Are young artists finding it easier to promote their work through online platforms such as Instagram, rather than working with the established gallery system?
That certainly seems to be the case for David ‘Aiu’ Servan-Schreiber, who has used Instagram to grow his following, meet collectors and close more sales.
Born in France in 1989 and now based in London, David has exhibited at Pomellato jewellery stores around the world, at Sotheby’s Summer exhibition and the Royal Academy of Art charity sale, and at an MTArt group exhibition in London, and has had shows in the Rebecca Hossack Gallery in Singapore and Hong Kong, at the Rosewood Hotel London, and solo show “An Environmental Reflection” at Zari Gallery in London.
David is listed as one of Sophie Weinstein’s ‘Artists You Need to Follow on Instagram’ on the Oh-So-Arty blog, and his talk at the Museum of London – “How can artworks inspire you to become more sustainable?” – emphasised the environmental theme of his work. On his website at www.davidaiu.com, he says: “It is by looking at our environment with the same lenses as believers look at their religions that we can tame the fever which our Earth suffers from at the moment, and that many refer to as global warming.”
His works, which combine astronomical themes and suggestions of religious iconography using a range of materials from oil paint to acrylics, cement, wood, resin and gold leaf, include the Planets, Microcosm and Time series; while La Ruche is a 16 metre sculpture themed on the extinction of bees, created by David together with Ugo Schildge, Sarah Valente and Pauline Guerrier, commissioned by Foundation Good Planet in Paris and exhibited permanently and open to the public.
Represented by MTArt Agency, an award-winning agency which represents many of the art world’s most exciting young visual artists, David has found that while galleries and exhibitions have been valuable in promoting his work, he now achieves a good deal of ‘traction’ – and ultimately sales of his work – through Instagram. Building his network through social media is growing his audience, increasing interest in his works, and was instrumental in him selling 14 pieces in one month.
While Instagram is becoming a valuable promotional tool for young artists, it’s also becoming the way many collectors find new works, particularly if they find the art market inaccessible.
James Bridgens, a 33-year-old tech entrepreneur in London, found David’s work on Instagram after spending time at exhibitions and art fairs, but finding it difficult to discover work he liked, or felt had investment potential. Contacting David through Instagram, he arranged a meeting made his first investment in one of David’s pieces. It’s a clear example of how cutting out the gallery ‘middleman’ in this way is allowing collectors to do their own research before investing.
David Servan-Schreiber says: “The way people are experiencing art in the modern world is changing. It is getting more difficult for galleries to make money, and that means more galleries are closing and there are less opportunities for artists.
“Every artist enjoys doing shows with museums and galleries and it is sad that there are less of these traditional opportunities, but it also means that the world of art is having to adapt. I am signed to MTArt Agency, a talent agency for upcoming visual artists. My agent, Marine Tanguy, does a lot of work partnering her artists with brands, government bodies and collectors, it’s very much a tactic of taking art to people rather than waiting for them to come and find it in galleries, and I think the future success of art lies in creative tactics to interest people in art. Marine is always encouraging us to be active on our social networks too, and that tactic has certainly paid off for me.
“There is a new generation of artists and collectors coming into the market at the moment and there will be more opportunities for artists to promote themselves and their work online in the future. The new generation are literate in technology, and the internet is the biggest marketplace anybody could hope for to sell their work to. The key is knowing how to find a way into that market. “The internet is very community-focussed. People exist in groups of like-minded people on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and even sites like Reddit. As an artist this gives me an advantage. My work deals with the importance of preserving and protecting the environment, and I can quickly find networks of people who care about the same causes and share my values. Social media has created a digital word-of-mouth effect for the art industry, and that means that if the right person invests into my art and puts a picture of it on their feed, the likelihood is that this will be seen by other people who will be interested.
“I have met a number of collectors this way: they have found my work online and messaged me asking to meet up and find out more about me. This is another advantage of social media, the opportunity to build personal relationships with prospective collectors. For somebody that hasn’t invested in art before and finds the industry daunting, I think it makes a big difference to spend some time getting to know the person behind the art. It also creates a rapport that means they will likely want to buy more of your art in the future.”
And James Bridgens comments: “I really got into art for the first time through Instagram in late August 2018. That initial interest began with lots of aimless searching and struggling to find anything that I particularly liked, until I discovered Gerhard Richter.
“Finding his works gave me a bit more focus and understanding of the type of artwork I was attracted to. After that discovery I came across David’s work and fell in love with it, especially given the story behind his pieces and his inspiration: the planet and our harmful effect on it.
“I think social media allows you to connect with the artists in a way that wasn’t so easy before: you can see what drives and inspires them fairly easily. You can also see what is popular and what is not by how many likes and followers people have. That might seem a somewhat binary formula but it all helps when deciding if a piece of art is a sound investment, as well as just a purchase for enjoyment. Before social media that was more difficult to do because the art world is such a subjective one: there are still some multi-million dollar pieces out there that look terrible in my opinion!
“The advantage of using a platform like Instagram is that it is now easier to bypass those works and find people like David who I feel a connection to.”