The art industry is at a crossroads. Never before have more people been engaged with art. Yet over the past decade the market has largely stagnated and the number of artworks trading annually has decreased. Galleries and auction houses are looking for new ways to survive and thrive, with online sales receiving increased attention, given the significant opportunity to connect with and cultivate new collectors.
While each collector is guided by a unique set of decision-making factors when acquiring works, several key themes and demographic variances stand out.
This report unpacks the similarities and differences between online collectors’ spending patterns, motivations, and challenges, and compares them to those of traditional art buyers. It confirms some perceptions about online buyers and shatters others.
Aesthetics and a desire to live with art
Online art buyers overwhelmingly purchase art in order to live with it. Seventy-one percent of collectors buy art to decorate their home. Even for investment-minded collectors, the motivation here appears to be deeply personal in its origins, buying art to provide a source of inspiration in their daily lives.
A passion for artists and their stories
Collectors indicate that a work’s aesthetic appeal is frequently the gateway to a deeper exploration of the artist and their career. Only 17% of art collectors report buying art without significant consideration for the works’ content or the artist’s background or career trajectory.
This diverges significantly from the Gen-X consumers currently among the online art market’s biggest spenders, who are more frequently motivated by status and a brand or artist’s mass relevance.
Collectors’ passion for art appears to be a driving factor. Multiple interviewees mentioned continually pushing the limits of what they can afford as their wealth increases—climbing up lists of artists they had been following, but whose works had previously been financially out of reach.
Collectors think of affordability not only in terms of their current budget, but also how well priced an artwork is relative to what they think is fair, based on the current market.
Wealth and budget
A collector’s net worth is also strongly correlated with their propensity to view art through an investment lens. Online collectors with a net worth above $10 million are the most likely to cite this as a motivating factor, at 52% of all respondents, while collectors with a net worth between $5 million and $10 million come in second, at 49%. By comparison, on average, 27% of collectors with a net worth less than $100,000 report investment as a major driving factor behind their collecting.
Increasing art budget and wealth are found to be correlated with a decrease in affinity towards emerging art, providing further evidence to the argument that investment-focused collectors aren’t motivated by speculation, but by works that can hold value with low volatility.
For more information visit: www.artsy.net
EuropeanLife Magazine 2021