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Art online, a manifesto. Part 1: Superlatives gone awry. How not to present art online.

Part 1: Superlatives gone awry. How not to present art online.

artonline1(Above: actual language used by a major online art selling platform)

The vogue for online art marketing is reminiscent of TV infomercials of the 1990s. The campaigns of most online art platforms go something like “10 artists to invest in now!” or “Popular pieces, 24hours left to bid!”. These are today’s equivalent of the “But wait, there’s more!” and “Call within the next 10 minutes, and we’ll double your order!” pitch lines. It’s obvious to me that these tag lines don’t work.

The usual run of superlatives (First, Biggest collection, Best artists, Top specialists) comes to nothing in the context of selling art online. A tag line that reads, “Leading website with top contemporary artists” is more likely to be viewed with skepticism than trust. Online audiences today are equipped with diverse deception radars. When authenticity cannot be manufactured, how can we build a tone that rings true to the art of our age? How can we pay tribute to its sense of mastery, discipline, rigor and mindfulness, then meld them with the souls of today’s internet users? Online audiences today crave for nuances of real life, including imperfections and vulnerabilities, not just artificial greatness.

For people to care, we need empathy. The people that we truly connect to are not the ones giving us advice, cures and solutions, but rather people who share the same heartbreaks about the world, the same anxieties of not knowing. Art makes us reckon with the horrors and beauty of lands far away and people we’ve never met. Like books, art makes us less lonely. Our goal is to present to you artists of our time, artists that share the same humble reflections, illustrative¬† humor and noble struggles as you do.

Part 2: The “art world”? There is only one world, here.

Read Part 3: Life is short, and art is long, here.



Alice Zhang

Alice Zhang

Creative Director at Stew