Study points to signs of growth in art industry

Study points to signs of growth in art industry

Amy Leibrock


Today, I typed “art gallery” into an Internet search engine to see what a consumer might face when starting her quest for art. I immediately turned tip links to everything from free clip art sites to the grand National Gallery of Art and even a macromolecular museum for the display and study of macromolecules (huh?). But in between was a smattering of art galleries–both online and brick-and-mortar, for profit and nonprofit, American and international–that ranged from a single artist promoting her work to the most savvy of online retailers.

Aside from getting an education about “space art” on the Novaspace Galleries Web site, my experiment yielded a colorful cross section of the market and showed how many choices art buyers have these days. It was tough even for me to make sense of all the options, so it’s no wonder why some people turn to a “big-box” retailer, such as Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond, where they can choose from a few images in the same store where they’re also buying towels and shampoo.

Even though yhe trend toward art in chain stores presents a competitive challenge for retail art galleries, there is some good news. According to a new survey by Unity Marketing and funded in part by the Art Publishers Association, retail sales of art and wall decor increased 14 percent between 2000 and 2002 (see “Retail Art Sales Jump, Says Study” on page 8). Although the APA is keeping the rest of the results under lock and key until the data is released at DECOR Expo, the number is encouraging. If more people are buying art, no matter what the source, my guess is they will continue to buy art. This is definitely a sign that our industry is growing, which is the best news I’ve heard all year, but I’m sure we’re all anxious to hear more statistics from the study.

The APA also found that a high percentage of consumers buys art they connect with emotionally, and that’s what galleries do best–foster emotional connections with art. When’s the last time an employee at Target told you the life story of an artist or explained the ideas behind his work?



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