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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Profiling the art market

Angela Minkova has set me a challenge.  She is a quirky Bulgarian artist who deserves to be better known. The previous post carries one of her artefacts I have in my Carpathian mountain house – and today’s one of her Balchik prints (which also occupies a prominent place there).

I am not an art dealer – rather a writer, networker and art collector (of Bulgarian paintings) – but she has asked me for help in raising her profile.
She is not alone in feeling somewhat frustrated and anxious. It is, of course, the quintessential fate of artists – but particularly of those from small, poorer countries on Europe’s periphery which have only the vaguest of profiles…In Bulgaria’s case …..the Black Sea, skiing, wine and ……poisoned umbrella tips….

Traditionally artists have needed galleries to display their paintings – whether individually or in special exhibitions – but the internet now offers an additional, more direct, route to the buyer. There are a lot of private galleries in Sofia – but (currently) no guide to them for the visitor. The annotated list I have in my book Bulgarian Encounters – a cultural romp focuses on the small galleries selling mainly the classic painters of the early part of the last century – and identifies 17 in this category.
There are at least that number selling contemporary art – although only a few with owners who identify and actively promote quality work. My friend Vihra’s Astry Gallery is the most prominent of these – and she occasionally takes work for exhibition in European capitals.   

So the question these days for Bulgarian artists is – how should they best promote themselves?
The choices are various - through
- traditional galleries – individual paintings/ special exhibitions/ group exhibitions?
- word of mouth?
- websites – own sites or individual entries in “gateway”  or portal sites such as SaatchiArt?
- portals - marketing contemporary Bulgarian painting eg ModernBulgarianArtists
- Facebook?

The answer is simple – through all of these routes! As is argued in this well-written article which gives great tips for artists – from a site full of much better advice than I’m capable of giving
My initial thought had been to target some of Europe’s art critics – but the article shows the error in such an approach. I strongly advise you to read the article and also this one

Although I know very little about the art market, I have been lucky enough to be able to practice strategic skills and networking for ....45 years….I have a natural inclination to look at a situation and want to identify the key players who form the system or market – suppliers, consumers and intermediaries with the latter as the most complex. It is they who shape perceptions and channel (or not) the demand and supply…….

My first inclination therefore with this problem facing Bulgarian artists is to PROFILE – ie to identify (a) the relevant galleries (real or virtual) and (b) the potential buyers for the paintings of contemporary Bulgarian artists and then try to sketch the profiles of these groups.
That’s actually three distinct groups which need to be mapped and profiled –
·         Bulgarian physical galleries
·         Virtual galleries
·         The art buyer
     
The easiest to deal with is the first – I’ve already said there are very few effective “impressarios” of Bulgarian contemporary artists. Last sanctuaries of originality contained some short profiles I did a couple of years ago

This is the first in what may be a series as I brainstorm this challenge which Angela has set me.

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