The Art Gallery Business Model Needs to Change so Let’s Discuss
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The Art Gallery Business Model Needs to Change So Let’s Discuss

I want to open up the conversation into why the art world is so resistant to technology, even at the risk of becoming obsolete.

By Team ARTERNAL on Wednesday June 16, 2021
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masaaki komori
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Up until recently, I had never heard of Talking Galleries, an “international think tank dedicated to generating debate and knowledge in the field of art galleries and the art market.”

It was first brought to my attention recently by an ARTERNAL team member. Then again, during my Monday morning industry news recap, when I read Tim Schneider’s latest, “The Gray Market: Why Art Dealers Need to Focus on New Audiences or Risk Irrelevance (and Other Insights).” Tim wrote and published it via artnet after attending Talking Galleries in Barcelona this past weekend. And, I have to say, like a lightning bolt, the discussion generated at the 2-day conference energized me!

Here’s why. The arguments presented are very much in line with ARTERNAL. After years in the art world, I feel validated. To explain a bit more, in 2015, art gallery owners repeatedly told me that their top priority was driving sales, not foot traffic. This revelation caused me to make an immediate pivot from the consumer-facing app, ARTLOCAL, I had been focused on and turn it internally, with a focus on behind the scenes of the art gallery. Hence, the name ARTERNAL.

Today, almost five years later, many in the art industry still shy away from talking about the business of art and would instead focus on 50-year-old art selling techniques and methods. Real talk, it’s not easy convincing an inclusive industry, like the art world, that it’s time for a change. However, the time is now, and ARTERNAL is here for it.

Screen Shot 2020 01 28 at 1.33.27 PM
Screen Shot 2020 01 28 at 1.33.27 PM

This post kicks off the first in an on-going series where I will share my unique point of view on what I refer to as, The Business of Art. Specifically, I want to open up the conversation into why the art world is so resistant to technology, even at the risk of becoming obsolete. With that said, you may be wondering what makes my POV unique; please allow me to elaborate.

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I am not what some would consider an art industry insider. I do not have a Fine Arts degree from a private liberal arts school, nor did I ever have aspirations of being an artist myself. Instead, I’m an entrepreneur with a computer science background and a knack for identifying gaps in a market. It is this powerful combination that led me to found ARTERNAL, an all-in-one tool that provides an efficient workflow for the gallery sales director as well as the entire staff and art liaisons. 

As the founder of ARTERNAL, I’ve engrossed and ingratiated myself into the art world, going on almost a decade now. I couldn’t be more passionate about providing the necessary means it needs to grow with the global economy successfully. However, it’s a Catch 22. We’re bringing an innovative solution to an industry that needs it. Due to a variety of circumstances, like the volatility of artwork itself, unclear hierarchy, siloed gallery staff, and a fear of change in the purest form, to name a few, the industry is slow to evolve.

o, here’s what I propose. I’m going to apply my years of art industry field research with my solution based mode of thinking to a series of blog posts that will take you Behind the White Walls. Stay tuned for more and in the meantime follow along @sean_arternal and @_arternal_

photo credit: header by Masaaki Komori photos of Sean by Greyson Tarantino

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