Education: Social Media as a Tool for Art Collecting

"Nobody Likes Me" - iHeart
“Nobody Likes Me” – iHeart Street Art

I know what you’re thinking:  “I hate social media.”  Just hold on, let me explain.

As annoying as social media sometimes get (you’re talking to a guy that deactivated his Facebook account two years ago and uses Instagram exclusively), it is a valuable tool for collectors to personally connect with artists, stay abreast of upcoming shows, discover art and artists, and add works that you would never otherwise have access to.  Huge increase in accessibility to art that social media has brought might be one of its greatest benefits.

Here’s a rundown of how I utilize social media for art collecting:

Follow artists and galleries to gain first access.  Following artist and galleries that I have a strong interest in allows me to stay up-to-date on new shows and artwork that may become available before the email blast goes out.  This is essential especially if the gallery has a first-come, first-served policy for purchasing new works.  Getting your name on that preview list is an advantage that you cannot afford to not have.

Discover new artists.  Talented artists tend to have talented artist friends, and if you follow enough of them (Read: six degrees of separation) you’ll grow a huge network of artists that excites and motivates your collection.

Find casual collectors who’s looking to sell a Holy Grail for the right price.  Search functions in social media have gotten so powerful that with enough know-how you can find almost anything there.  Four years ago (wow, how time flies), I searched “Shepard Fairey” on Flickr and found a former assistant of his from back in the 90s.  After a couple of messages, I convinced him to sell a print by Fairey from 1993 that not even the artist himself had in his collection.  It was a good day.

Gauge the collectability of an artist.  These days artist have to be self-promoting gurus to be recognized by galleries and collectors.  I use an artist’s social media presence as a critical decider of whether to invest in an artist.  How many followers does she have?  How active is she on various social media platforms?  How much engagement does she have with the greater community?  It’s up to you to decide if her hype or lack of hype is deserved.

Strengthen my visual language as a collector.  Accessibility to art granted by social media is unprecedented, and this allows us collectors to quickly learn visually what works and what doesn’t.  This will help curb the amount of mistakes you make as a collector, and I’ll be the first to admit that I have made a few blunders along the way.

This rare Shepard Fairey print was bought through a Filckr search back in 2011. "Andre Hendrix" - Shepard Fairey
This rare Shepard Fairey print was bought through a Filckr search back in 2011. “Andre Hendrix”

You will be hard pressed to find a more efficient tool for art collecting than social media platforms like Instagram.  It’s not only a collecting tool, but an educational one as well for beginning collectors.  I really hope you will embrace this landscape of art collecting enabled by new technologies.  It might seem unfamiliar but I guarantee you’ll enjoy the ride.