With the art world more accessible than ever before, thanks to a rise in online platforms, virtual galleries and sharing platforms, maybe it’s time to explore your inner Picasso or Koons? As a result of these exploratory channels and viable career paths evolving, up-and-coming artists are finding support from new avenues, encouraging them to take the leap of faith as individual creators.
Much to the initial scepticism of traditionalists, digital developments have brought a new vibrancy to the art scene with emerging artists, who may have previously struggled to make a stamp on the industry, now complemented with these new support networks in place.
Partnership Editions, a UK-based curated art platform, set up by Georgia Spray in 2017, works with an array of international talent bringing them to a global audience. After six years of working within the art industry with Christies and various London galleries, Spray recognised an opportunity to connect would-be collectors with emerging artists. With most potential collectors deterred by the initial cost of works from well-known names, this prospect answered the question for many whilst bringing an exciting opportunity for emerging artists. Spray has built her community through the use of social media tools, degree shows and word-of-mouth and is continuing to add to her curated selection. The key to the platform’s success is the personal relationship she maintains with each artist, working hand in hand to ensure the collaboration is a win-win for both parties.
Georgia Spray, founder of Partnership Editions photographed in their recent pop-up at the newlyGEORGIA ROTHMAN
This approach instils more confidence in younger talent, allowing them to explore their creativity further while Spray and her team look after the business side of sales and marketing for them.
Speaking of her journey so far, Spray comments, “Initially there was a fair amount of resistance from the “Traditional Art World”, but the art world has gone digital in so many more ways than just selling art online. Most galleries have a website, an Instagram presence, and many an e-commerce arm.” However, she thinks digital is more of an enhancement to the industry rather than a replacement of the physical experience. She continues, “The two should run alongside each other. At Partnership Editions, we run physical events and exhibitions alongside our online platform; it’s a symbiotic relationship.”
Partnership Editions present a variety of works from international artists including these from GEORGIA ROTHMAN
Hoping to extend her presence into other countries as well as bringing more artists on board, Spray reiterates how online tools can have a huge impact on the decisions buyers make, as well as educating them further. “The user journey of buying an artwork online can allow you to see the artist creating the work, helping you to understand their process and allowing you time to read about the artist and the inspiration behind each piece.” She continues, “All of this can help inform the final purchase, especially for those who don’t feel comfortable stepping foot inside a gallery.”
While Partnership Editions may still be in its youth, many established institutions are also taking notice of a change in consumers habits. The Royal Academy of Art, which has a long history of discovering some of the worlds great talent, is widening its outreach in working with emerging and upcoming artists, giving them exposure within the public spaces it has, and also by offering an online retail platform for customers to purchase directly from. “We are delighted to be showing artist Will Cruickshank in Gallery X this winter as part of our exploration of artist textiles.” says Alison Acampora, the Senior Lead for Art Sales & Artist Collaborations at the RA. “We have worked with a number of emerging artists responding to subjects which reflect the interests of the RA and this will continue to take place supporting our mission in the future.”
Harriet Mathias, founder of the newly launched platform Modern Muse, shares similar views on the use of digital tools to break down the traditional barriers which have created an oft ‘exclusive’ art scene. “Online platforms are making, and will continue to make, the art industry more fluid, open and thoughtful.” She says, “It’s giving them a louder voice and, as a result, offers a more honest representation of our changing and growing demographics.” Modern Muse, which was founded through Mathias’ personal experience of buying art online, again offers emerging artists the opportunity to reach a wider and growing audience at a quicker rate. Using her art background, and Creative Director Irene Bellucci’s editorial experience, Mathias’ aim is to create a space and destination where emerging artists can have an opportunity to be positioned at the forefront with a wealth of dynamic content to support their profile, giving them a voice to strengthen and nurture artist and buyer relationships.
Calliope by Frida Wannerberger, available through Modern Muse. MODERN MUSE
Alongside the developments of online retail, the rise of art rentals has also been facilitated with new rental platforms launching over the last few years. London-based M.A.H. (Modern Art Hire), founded by interior stylist and creative director, Laura Fulmine, offers the chance to exclusively rent a selection of licensed artworks and sculptural designs. Perfect for temporary spaces, events, and photography shoots, this offering brings a new versatility to the industry, increasing the outreach for individual talent. Whilst running a series of exhibitions at their East London gallery, Fulmine uses her distinct design aesthetic to curate a beautiful selection of pieces for her rental portfolio. It brings a different type of accessibility to artwork and, for short-term lets, it allows tenants to engage with pieces where the investment of purchase is deemed unnecessary.
Laura Fulmine, founder of art rental platform M.A.H.(Modern Art Hire). BEN ANDERS
While this allows us easier routes to bringing art into our homes, there are more public galleries, pop ups and exhibitions than ever before. We can now immerse ourselves in art freely with a lot of galleries charging no or minimal entrance fees. Thanks to charities like the Art Fund, the accessibility of exhibitions is expanding. The National Art Pass, launched by the Art Fund, is an annual membership which allows free entry into over 200 museums and galleries as well as discounted tickets into a variety of other exhibitions at iconic locations such as the Tate galleries and the V&A. With all profits going back into the UK’s museums and galleries themselves, the Art Fund continues to offer vital support in keeping these institutions running, raising £34 million in the past 5 years alone.
Spray continues to point out the importance of this shift and urges everyone to gain confidence in their own judgements. “Art should be something for everyone to appreciate and too few realise that it’s also something that they can own and collect.” She continues, “Having worked in the art world for 5 years prior to starting Partnership Editions, it was clear how many people felt totally alienated by art and would be too intimidated to step into an auction house or gallery. Accessibility in the art world is not just about price – it’s about breaking down these barriers in all senses and opening up the conversation. No one needs to be an expert – they just need to trust their instincts.”
With these examples offering just a snapshot of the movement towards a more open and accessible industry, the benefits are plain to see. There is a wider variety of available works, the route to a global audience is simpler for emerging talent and art now spans a range of costs, making it more affordable for young collectors to invest. What we also see is a broader subject range being addressed and, in a world where we face colossal environmental and social issues, these crucial discussions need to be continued.