FineArtViews Interview: Alan Bamberger -- Art Appraiser, Consultant, and Author by Brian Sherwin
This article is by Brian Sherwin , Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint and Art Fag City. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
Brian Sherwin: Alan, you have been an art consultant since 1985 and have written about art business since 1983. You are also known throughout San Francisco for being an astute art critic. Thus, you have no doubt observed how art marketing has changed over the years-- specifically since the advent of the Internet and the bombardment of social media that our lives tend to be linked to today. In general, what are your thoughts concerning the meshing of traditional art marketing with the Internet?
Alan Bamberger: The internet is an incredibly valuable tool; use it. Artists can reach more people than ever with their work-- no matter where they live-- as long as they have an internet connection. You don't necessarily have to be in a big city anymore, or know the right people, or play the game according to other people's rules. If you have talent and you put it out there into the electronic ether, sooner or later they'll find you.
BS: Would you say that the Internet has made your job as an art consultant easier? Or does technology-- in general-- spur challenges that were not present before? If so, can you explain?
AB: The Internet has made it far easier for me to put my point of view out there. My writing is generally not the type of writing that arts publications chase after-- because it's not the kind of writing that contributes to advertising revenues. But I don't write to contribute to someone else's advertising revenues. I write to help people understand the art world better. And that's another reason why publications aren't that thrilled with the stuff I write-- plenty of arts professionals don't want educated clienteles; it's easier for them to take advantage of people who don't know anything.
My goal is to inform people with my writing-- to make them better artists or collectors or people who just plain appreciate art. So readers get exposed to my point of view, hopefully they learn stuff that they didn't know, and if they like what they read, they hire me-- and plenty of them do. It's just that simple.
BS: In your opinion, what are the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing social networking and a personal website for art marketing and exposure efforts-- specifically in regards to the efforts of emerging artists who are seeking recognition for their artwork? Is it important for an artist to be active on social networking websites like Facebook and to have a personal website?
AB: Advantages: You show your art, you place it in context, you give a little background information about yourself, and you let people decide for themselves whether they want to know more. You keep on producing and adding to your website or Facebook page or Flickr page or whatever-- CONSTANTLY-- so that people can see you're dedicated, productive, and committed to being an artist. And don't ever give up!
Disadvantages: Some artists get caught up in this "Look at my art and tell me what you think" kind of presentation-- soliciting responses, constantly asking people to do stuff for them, give them free advice, talk about them and their art (and nothing else), and rarely giving anything in return. If you approach the Internet like that, all you become is a pest.
BS: As an art writer what is your opinion of the success of art blogs compared to traditional art publications? Do you feel that art blogs are having an impact on art criticism as far as the public is concerned? Do you think that specific art bloggers will find their place in the history of art writing?
AB: Blogs work. But you have to dedicate yourself to it, post regularly, develop your own unique perspective or story line, and keep at it. That's how you get readership; that's how you get a profile. Back in the old days, the main way people got their art news was through a very limited selection of publications-- or from the local newspaper's art critic. Now it's a free-for-all. Anyone can play the game, and as with all games, the best players inevitably win.
BS: What advice do you have for emerging artists in general? Do you have any suggestions for gaining exposure or selling art?
AB: An art dealer once told me, "No art sells itself." And he's right, but that doesn't mean you hawk it like timeshares or used cars. Perhaps the most important key to "selling" art is giving people reasons to care. With all the other stuff out there for people to care about, why should they care about your art? Why do you care about your art? That's a great place to start.
If you can convey and convince, in a simple sentence or two, why people should care about your art the way that you care about it-- you make sales. The same can be said for gaining exposure online or in a more traditional manner. You have to give people reasons to care. I offer hundreds of pages of advice on my site.
BS: Point blank-- who are the most influential artists exhibiting at this time in your opinion?
AB: I don't see art that way. An artist may produce a brilliant body of work one year and a complete yawner the next. I prefer the overview-- watching everything happen at once, witnessing the evolutionary progression of it all, experiencing the totality of artists making art and of people responding to it. I could care less who's doing what this week... or next week... or the week after.
BS: As for the services that you offer-- do you work with emerging artists or do you prefer to work with artists who have traveled a few blocks on their own, so to speak?
AB: I work with anyone who's committed to making art and to surviving as an artist.
BS: Finally, what advice do you have for art collectors who are interested in discovering new talent online-- but are nervous to take that first leap of making an online purchase? Furthermore, do you think e-Commerce is a valid edition to art marketing in general-- or should artists focus on traditional routes for sales?
AB: Buying art with a keyboard and mouse is the new frontier of collecting. I cover this in Chapter 11 of my book The Art of Buying Art. The chapter covers basic facts about how online art buying works, how it differs from buying art in traditional ways, and how to progress from looking at art for sale to locating art you like and considering specific pieces for possible purchase.
This much I will say about buying art online-- you have to know what you're doing, know what you're looking for, know what you're looking at, be able to ask the right questions and evaluate the answers, be able to research what you're thinking about buying (not just take the seller's word for it), corroborate any claims that sellers make, and on and on. If you're an amateur who thinks you're going to beat the Internet bushes for bargains, think again. There's no shortage of unscrupulous sellers lying in wait for suckers like you.
To learn more about Alan Bamberger, visit his website at www.artbusiness.com.
Take care, Stay true,
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