The international art market has challenged some major barriers within the past five years, hindering smaller artists as well as new creative campaigns to sell their artwork worldwide. Companies, for example, have focused on selling more and faster online, earning dream rates from up to 50% markup with each sale, without strengthen the surrounding networks and new visionary concepts. In return, most of the transaction and major developments in the art market done online are mapped and used in return as information for further investments, without strengthening new skills in addition to traditional arts. How this development can be framed is shown in this article, spanned over a period of one year with news, trends and statistics. I visited Stefan Stichler, previous known as dasEINS, to get to know, how art is influencing the cultural scenes in Frankfurt.
The international art market has challenged some major barriers within the past five years, hindering smaller artists as well as new creative campaigns to sell their artwork worldwide. Companies, for example, have focused on selling more and faster online, earning dream rates from up to a 50% mark up on each sale, without strengthening the surrounding networks and new visions. In return, most of the transactions and major developments of the art market done online are mapped, digitized and used in return as information for further investments, without developing new skills in addition to traditional arts. Measuring the value of art sold online, enabling huge database and selling worldwide, for example with ARTstor and Project Muse, have gotten more important as well as online auction companies, for example sales on Zatista, in contrast to multimodal ways of modern art branches. ARTstor is offering larger databases for searching and differentiate paintings, graphics and other educational materials. Instead, creating art has been added to social communities focusing on information and online commerce and then developed dialectically. Traditional auctioneer like Sotheby’s and Christie’s are not just selling, but offering their expertise build on sales dated back 300 years ago.
Today, I find very different competences and new ways of buying art, along with modern ways of valuing artwork, as for example social medias with likes, comments, and communities or with each exploration, achieved knowledge and urban highlights. The first steps towards new developments can build on the existing trends, but also unique approaches to handling your ability, worth of further integration in your own production circles.
I have selected news from Google between June 2014 and June 2015, highlighting most of the important public events, thematic art, and artworks, turning one year into an art-centered box with plenty of different ideas, news and stories to get inspired, electrified and objectified.
I have interviewed Stefan Stichler 2014 in Frankfurt. I have seen his installation during Menschwerk 2014, one of the exhibitions in the Rhein-Main area, and asked him later to get an interview. We have talked about influencing events on his artwork, the complexities of staying on top and ideas how art is marketed nowadays.
The values of artists are varying depending on their reputation, public attention, production technic, but also on grouping effects, as some of the cited studies show. Art as every other profession must be sensitive for a market mechanism, otherwise, art prices aren’t showing the necessary margins to be interesting enough for investments and discounting the multifaceted approach making simple art pieces to brands and entertaining artistic manifestation.
In June 2014, Artnet News released a conference note about the transactions on the art market of the first half of 2014. The products gained the highest sales within the first half of the year was made by Picasso, Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, Monet and Qi Baishi with transaction volumes of altogether 1.228 Million Dollar. Qi Baishi is one of the top-selling Chinese artists, approximately surpassed Picasso in 2011 as one of the artists selling art pieces for the highest prices in Chine. Among the living artists with the highest sales volume are Gerhard Richter, Jeff Koons, Richard Price and Christopher Wool with altogether 352.6 Million Dollar. The highest sold artwork within a market growing 19% to 8.6 billion Dollar over a period of six months is Barnett Newman’s Black Fire 1. Barnett Newman is an American artist, focusing on breakthrough ideas, radical steps and unifying effects within his art pieces, as can be read in various articles about the artist.
The figures are showing that the highest prices are mostly paid for European artists, in contrast to the market for artists, yet creating and developing. The latter market is dominated from painters, sculptors, artisans, designer, and manufacturers from the USA, indicating that the market has a hierarchical understanding. European art is great, however, with connotation on epochs, while the global market is highlighting visions, brands, and larger structural changes. The third largest market, the Chinese market, is behaving highly volatile with extreme up and downs. This global trend can be seen also in articles, read in publications the following year.
Art Basel has opened its halls in June 2014 and given the opportunity to millions of people and collectors engaging with art scenes in new ways. In 2014 over 1700 artists have shown their artworks at the exhibition. Three annual shows on different continents together are marketed as Art Basel. As most of the articles about this event are stating, especially new production methods as well as a greater variety of materials are promoted in the best fashionable tone. This exhibition started in 1970 in Basel and is fascinating most of the artists. Today, this exhibition is held in Basel, Miami, and Honk Kong and giving up to date the most impressive insights into an immense and globally acting art scene.
The newest and most fascinating spots in 2014 have been the rooms from Aesop, neon colored running shoes and 3 D printed artwork. Most prominent artists 2014 is Damien Hirst at the White Cube Gallery, Jeff Koon’s Hulk at the Gagosian Gallery, Billboard artwork from Sigmar Polke and Ai Weiwei’s bicycle construction.
In June 2014, the Hampton art fair has opened for a few days, seen from some artists as the primer for the season and not as Art Basel as own art concept, but as a market for people highly engaged and involved with their ambitions. Presented as contemporary and modern, Art Hampton is offering art labeled regional and with emphasize on cultural specifications and not as Art Basel, for example, using more developed categories and branded segments. The programme is offering artworks from over 80 galleries, representing 12 different countries within a sculpture garden designed from Nova Mihai Popa.
The Guardian has published a bigger article in July 2014 about the growing interest in African art markets, like the one in Dakar, Marché Colobane. The history of the Marché Colobane is reaching a few decades back. By the midst 80’s, the market was still one for second-hand goods and has now grown to one of the hot spots of the art scene in Senegal. It is one place to be if you are interested in the reception of global art trends from an African point of view. Most of the contemporary art works are abstract and sold within the city in only a dozen of galleries, yet the Marché Colobane is seen as a vibrant place for developing an understanding and ability for the African art scene and your own work under different lenses. You are able to see a lot of aspiring artists, writers and travellers, drinking coffee, using their equipment and developing their reception of rising trends.
Buying online is not just happening in auctions and from 2002 also on eBay. Sotheby’s has announced in July 2014 that the joint venture will continue to a second round, focusing especially on the mobile market. Estimating a transaction potential in 2014 of roughly 65 billion dollars, Sotheby’s has registered 3.500 auctions with a closing deal over 5.000 dollars each day and more than the half of the artwork from Sotheby’s is ranging between 5.000 and 100.000 dollars. This joint venture has gained 20 billion dollars in 2013 up from zero in 2008. Often cited arguments for the success of this joint venture are an easy access and higher securities. eBay is offering several services to ensure correct sales and people with an interest in the artwork are able to buy and sell artwork within seconds and better research questionable specifications.
The New York Times wrote in July 2014 an article about the effects of naming in art. While technicality is mostly a matter of facts and specifications, art markets are wholly moved from names, corresponding value, and authenticity. Branding, as Andreas Pampoulides argues, is for the area of Old Masters, an epoch-ending around 1850, a matter of history, authorship and even mysteries. I'm able to grasp these branding characteristics and prices best with paintings from Vermeer, Bruegel, and Stubbs. As for corresponding markets, also Old Masters have turned into brands, like coloring old emperor’s clothes in modern and brighter color.
August 2014 started as for July 2014 ended, with an article about selling art with branding features. Vanity Fair No. 7 could peak in an article how Jeff Koons is creating his branded artworks. Exploring art as he did, made new methods of composing. Almost 130 people are working in his art facilities to put every detail in its own place, using numerals, literacy and perfect style. His work has been taken to highlight one of the more urgent problems resulting from positioning problems nowadays – branding. Kim Lehman is quoting Jonathan Schröder when he recommends recognizable products with personal traits as necessary to get consumer responses and strengthening consumer interest.
On August 12, Artnews has published an article, why Sotheby’s isn’t advertising about the transaction volumes and how brands are involved in this decision. One major argument against advertising is unrealistic expectations and false senses for prices between parties, next to an urgency for discretion, though the strive for leadership and as a brand even supremacy are existent given the importance of artworks for public meaning. Another critical view is emphasizing the potential negative nature of most of the artwork sold, for example in July 2013 as several carpets from Egypt and Turkey from the 17th century have been sold, art pieces to be seen with careful consideration because of uprising modern views and negative attitudes.
A smaller market spot, but with importance for different market participants is the art market in Palmerston North’s Square Edge, New Zealand. 20 local artists had their ideas of selling their artwork as in a supermarket and then developed a concept, offering sales based on rotation, as seen in most of the supermarkets. As the art market had to be marketed, most of these participants are opted for real opportunities and like-minded people as a prominent incentive, giving in exchange drawings, poetries, soundbites and paintings available for sale.
A greater study published in the Economics in September 2014 is answering one of the biggest questions in art: how are prices made and what are the main factors valuing artworks. The study was published from William Goetzmann and has highlighted very different aspects, as for example the interests of buyers. The early art market was dominated just by European, giving the leadership to American business men until 1980. From 1980 on especially Japanese buyers pushed the frontier and positioned their interest on the global art market. A new and global art market has taken the lead and given rise to a nouveau riche, owning art in a fashionable way:
The ArtFi, the Fine Art and Finance conference was held 2014 in Berlin and attracted the attention of art buyers and makers as well. As result of the conference talks and discussions, 10 very important facts had been factorised afterwards. The art market had been obvious in 2014 having the highest performance since 2007 with an estimated transaction volume of 47.42 billion dollar. The best place to be as an artist is New York, because of the friendly localities for artists. Against all odds is the Chinese art market mostly private held. Finding the right spot is the best way of gaining attention and maximizing your investment. Being transparent is just one way to stay informed and be known for a better fit.
One of many records achieved between 2013 and 2014 has been the transaction volume for all artwork. Artworks are sold for more than 2 billion dollars making this volume to highest volume ever. This record year high was initialized with a record-breaking auction on November 12th, as Jeff Koon’s Balloon Dog has been sold for over 55 million dollars. This is just another milestone in the history of record-breaking auctions all reached from US artists, as latest Jean- Michel Basquiat, Christopher Wool, and Jeff Koons.
On October the 1st the Japan Times published an article about the impact of political financial decisions on dormant market trends, especially the purchasing of artwork because of a weakened currencies. The Japanese art market as a segment had shown during a one-year period in 2013 a volume 54 million dollar. One of the most influential artistic group in Japan is at the moment Gutai, laying their vision on realising elements and ideas hidden within a materialistic and expressionistic artisan language. The group has started with stricter methods than other artistic movements in Japan at that time. It was fo example forbidden to imitate works of other artists, to enhance the position of the own group. The group is merging material aspect with personality and is gaining with enhanced understanding rising global reception. Next to this artistic group are artists popular like Kazuo Shiraga and Yayoi Kusama.
One global market highly disrupted with geopolitical conflicts is the market in the Middle East. An article about the contemporary trends and upcoming events is pointing towards a stagnation in the region, mostly because of geopolitical activities no other region is experiencing. Louvre and Guggenheim are opening branches in Dubai within the next month, and foreign market participants are offering creative ideas not just for residence in Abu Dhabi. Such as the Street Art Gallery is focusing its ambitions on local artist selling works between 5000 and 10000 Dollar. One of the most promising artists at auctions is Abdul Hadi El Gazzar, reached in March at Christie’s more than 1 million dollars.
Artnet presented a short article about an auction, offering Vincent van Gogh's still life “Vase with Daisies and Poppies”. The painting is commented from Simon Shaw as:
“beautiful, vibrant composition captures in sharp relief the intensity of the artist at the height of his mania, only weeks before his tragic end."
Vincent van Gogh auction rose from $13.8 million in 1985 to $124.3 million in 1987 and then fall to $4.5 million in 1988, as the Artnet Analytics database is showing. One of the major reasons for the highly priced van Gogh paintings is its scarcity and the increasing demand for Vincent van Gogh. Vincent van Gogh is not only known for his artwork but as a personality for a life directing towards too many boundaries. His notebooks almost as fascinating as his paintings have been publicly shown in 2009 at the Royal Academy in London, anticipated almost with the same calm patience as his paintings, as John McDonalds writes on his blog.
“Ah! My dear friend,” he writes, “to make of painting what the music of Berlioz and Wagner has been before us… a consolatory art for distressed hearts! There are as yet only a few who feel it as you and I do!!!"
The Indian market raised in November the attention of the leading art world as Christie’s announced an auction for Indian art and two Indian art fairs opened their halls. The Indian art market is considered as worth buying from if all three art happenings would signaling success and an uplift in global appreciation, as an art critic has claimed. A strong domestic market can be a reason for raising global recognition and the success of Indian artists are great leaps to a new and uprising art market in India.
On 22th in November, the Christie’s auction in Hong Kong had a transaction volume of together of 109 million Honk Kong dollar. Mostly pan-Asian modern and contemporary art has been sold. The painting with the highest price was done from Sanyu. The painting "Potted Peonies" sold this evening for 7.26 million dollars. Abstract paintings from Kazuo Shiraga, a member of Gutai, have been sold for 3 million dollars. These Asian auctions are considered as signs for established markets, as Eric Chang says, responsible for the 20th century and Contemporary art at Christie’s.
In November, paintings from the American art collection was sold for the highest price ever paid. Georgia O’Keefe’s “Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1" was sold for 45 million dollars. Illustrations and paintings from the Stieglitz circles have gained the highest interest from the American art collection. Alfred Stieglitz was an American photographer and owner of the gallery "291" at 291 Fifth Avenue, New York, known for photos with pictorial compositions. Paintings, less impressionistic and more casual, like “Max simply walked up that pier, pulling that fish through the water by main force.” was sold for 269.000 dollars that evening.
Art Basel Miami was held on the first week in December and was according to experts and galleries one of the best. Mnuchin Gallery was highly euphoric, selling, for example, John Chamberlain’s "Miss Remember Ford". Highly interesting are the growing numbers of synergies between fashion, music, and design. One reason for growing demands for artwork is taking elements from different disciplines.
Sotheby’s sold in December an Old Master for a price clearly found added influence from one cinematic opening. J.M.W. Turner’s “Rome from Mount Aventine” was sold at the first December week for 30 million dollars. After Ruben’s “Massacre of the Innocent”, a painting also from an Old Master, the second highest priced painting in auction history. 49.5 million dollars have been paid from the Canadian collector. But Richard Nagy explains the higher price with conflicts between generations and not with positive correlation effects between the cinema opening and this auction. Selling art pieces is in need for interests, especially from new entrants. The missing intersection of art and fashion are mostly named as the reason for decreasing interest in painting from the 18th century. New collectors are mostly crossover buyer. While Chinese and Russian collectors are selling artwork from several centuries and having this attributes, is the European art market becoming increasingly selective and centered on characteristics.
An article about virtual databases is published in December highlighting the aspect of new technologies for paintings. Artsy, co-founded from PayPal, is offering a virtual library for galleries, interested in offering their product portfolio online. For a smaller amount of monthly subscription, galleries are able to sell their artwork online.
In January 2015 the annual art market has one of its biggest shows on the biggest art market worldwide: the London Art Fair. European art has many traditional roots. One branch of the European art market is centered on production and creative methods. Paris during the late 19th century, however, has developed another branch: a critic centered art market. In contrast to increasing production numbers and more efficient production method, a network dependent valuing mechanism has been developed based on criticism and recommendations as its core competency. Modern Art has its origins in New York and has developed mainly as counterpart to abstract art in Paris. The last 40 years have seen the rise of markets in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Dubai. The London Art Fair is next to Frieze London and Art Basel one of the biggest art exhibition worldwide.
AMA reported in January 2015 that this year will be a year with decreasing sales, and not just incremental but radical. Deloitte’s art report for 2015 has predicted and decline in sales and especially in commission. Commission margin felt from 16.5% in 2011 to 14.9% in 2014. The biggest second topic is the segmentation of the market. Top collectors are just interested in 80 to 100 artists, almost only contemporary or modern. But Paris wasn’t just the beginning of the 19th century of a critic centered economic system for artists but also the birthplace of abstract art. The artistic movement started, as Blake Gopnik noted, with the recoding and reconfiguration of popular art pieces, rewriting paintings with the focus on figures, abstracted forms and without narratives. Very important is also, that the digitization of the different art markets is bringing major structural changes not only for traditional collectors but social media and community influences as well.
The art market, valued from Fortune with about 66 billion dollars in January 2015, is opening with fast steps towards new digital branches. Artsy has published its next digital strategy and its company figures for 2014. 230.000 images are scanned, 25.9 million dollars raised and 90 employees at hand. The company has also published in January its numbers, how much all the artwork, inquired on the website, is valued. Artwork estimated about 5.5 billion dollars for the artwork, searched for. At the moment, the company is having two branches: subscriptions and auctions. The closest and much bigger competitor, Saatchi Art, established in 1985 in London, is focusing on established markets with more detailed specifications and higher privacy.
The highest price for abstract paintings was paid in February 2015 for Gerhard Richter. His painting "Abstraktes Bild" from 1986 was sold at Sotheby’s for approximately 30.4 million dollars. Another record sale achieved in February was Paul Gaugin’s painting “When will you marry me?”. The painting, coloring two women mostly with yellow and red, has been sold for 300 million dollars.
For most of the artists as well as traders, the importance of being on top is keeping in contact with different artists, being in touch with market trends and being able to stay within the right segment has very high priorities. If you need official information, one opportunity is to use services from different official institutions. For more financial and marketed information, services from auctioneer like Sotheby’s and Christie’s are very important. Next, to these institutions, new and modern ways of trading art have been established like artprice.com, artnet.com, and Artsy. Using services of these companies are offering more brokerage effects to be ahead of the competition within different communities. Using not just the mechanism of financial institutions, but also different and contrasting methods from different industries are offering a wider range of opportunities, but also of cutting expenditures.
Singapore was labeled in the 1990’s as explosive from the New York Times. With the beginning, 1990’s Singapore started various campaigns and artists have taken different initiatives to build up a flourishing art scene. Most of these initiatives have been campaigns for place branding. Between 1980 and 1990 an explosion in exhibitions and art fairs took place with an increase of 150% in art events. Phaidon is naming Singapore as one of the 12 avant-garde cities together with Beirut, Bogotá, Cluj – Napoca, New Delhi, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Lagos, San Juan, São Paulo, Seoul, and Vancouver. However, the ghost of censorship from 1993 is still haunting the country.
Washington DC is promoting each year an Art Rave DC for local painters, jewelers, fashion designers and other artisans. Social media and campaigns are used to publish line up and crafted products. The line up is ranging from skateboards to art collectors. This art fair is an example how different exhibition can be. Sculptors are showing their art work, as well as local galleries.
The Handelsblatt has published in March a year résumé from 2014. The most profitable artists in 2014 are Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, and Gerhard Richter. Citing data from TEFAF, the USA is the biggest single art market with about 20 billion dollars. TEFAF is a European fine art foundation, reporting from global art and antique trends. The 2014 report has focused on the question, how art fairs can attract collectors to a single location. USA, Great Britain, and China are together the biggest participants with approximately 83 % of the total market. Half of the market are modern and contemporary paintings.
Loic Gouzer has described collecting patterns today. Most collectors are starting with contemporary art and start then with collecting better information, better-segmented art pieces, and more details.
In April 2015, the Sunday Standard published an article about the Indian art market. The first bigger investments in art fairs and biennials were done and most Art Fairs opened within the last 5 years. The Indian market is widening its restrictions and various opportunities for people to engage and live from what they want to become are now available. By now, not just high-quality works are available, but also a growing number of young artists, each with competence to gain its own collecting circles, necessary to get fame and reputation. The Sunday Standard is stating, that the Indian market has reached the level of necessary attention to show global artists with wider reputation.
The Telegraph published its emerging market column in April with emphasize on global market trends as well. The online sales increased by 41 % from 2013 to 2014. With ongoing and stable rates, this trend will reach in 2019 roughly 6.3 billion dollars. A questionnaire from Art Tactic has shown, that in April 63% of respondents are buying with affirmative attitudes, 24 % are influenced by social media comments and 41% are paying on average 1000 pounds.
The German art market has one highlight with Art Cologne, not just one of the global top ten, but highly interesting for the vibrant regional art scenes in Germany. Contrasting other global art fairs, Cologne is able to promote its art fair with its long existence. The trade fair opened for the first time in 1967. At that time, the foundation for progressive galleries opened the Kölner Kunstmarkt in Köln Gürzenich the first time and reached an initial ignition, significant for modern art fairs worldwide. The Kölner Kunstmarkt is now marketed as first modern art fairs as Art Cologne. This year, the exhibition halls are designed to enable chronological spacing for their exhibitors. The first Asian art dealers have entered Art Cologne this year as well.
Much trouble aroused in Detroit in May 2015 because one Vincent van Gogh painting from 1886 was publicly offered for sale, but then retracted a few days later from public bidding, though the critical financial state of the Detroit Institute of Art didn’t change that much and that fact was the reason for the critical reaction. The most prominent argument against this offer was that Museums usually don’t sell just to make money, but are allowed to sell if they want to get new paintings and expand their show. Just selling because of financial reasons isn’t part of any good ethical conduct given as premise from the American Alliance of Museums.
Singapore art scene has experienced major structural changes in May 2015. One of the prestigious and new art clusters in Singapore needed to close five of its art galleries. This structural change is making problems with greater and spanning art concepts obvious. The construction sites and development concepts are based on infrastructural ideas, but without stable community or single artistic initiatives, as one art galleries stated. This makes the Gillman Barack concept open for new plans and ideas, as the Singapore government noted a few weeks later.
The biggest Australian broadcaster reported from the Australian art scene with a report from the Gallery 4A in May 2015. Founded in 1997 by a group of local artist with the aim of drawing the attention towards Asian art is now seen as Australia’s most innovative cultural spaces, with focus on neighboring regional art scenes as from Europe or America. The gallery is famous for its thematic approach, as seen in the latest installments: Tell me the truth and Mass group incident. Major topics are Australia’s global place and identities today, as Helen Grace commented. The gallery is focusing also with the new director Mikala Tai on more detailed and cultural aware dialogues in contrast to the early programme with the focus on Asian contribution to western societies.
The year’s overview is ending with June with throws to Paris, Ontario and the starting Art Basel in June 2015.
Paris art market has published its numbers for 2014 in June 2015. Approximately 37.000 artworks have been sold at auctions for a value of estimated 31.047.445 dollar. The largest French auction companies are highly favorable for online trend and communities as seen also with their sales. Tajan and Millon & Associés are the biggest winners of these trend pointing at the moment towards bricks and clicks models and a combination of online and offline initiatives and away from social media. Romain Monteaux-Sarmiento explained the two-step strategy on France's largest auctioneer in June. The website for the company was launched in 1996 as address and information channel. With increasing online activities, optimizations and reinforcements, the company has opened own digital business models and is now one of Europe's leading online auction houses.
One of the biggest art markets in Ontario has opened in June 2015. The King Street Art Market is offering artisans new sales channels and craftsmanship from the region. This market is one of the greater opportunities for small-scale artists for their art pieces.
Art Basel 2015 reported within hours the largest sales volume for the last 10 years. The most prominent sales have been a Christopher Wool and a Keith Haring, two of the most prominent modern artists. Blum & Poe sold a Lee Ufan painting for 900.000 dollars, one of the major painters from the Korean Dansaekhwa School. Dansaekhwa is a group of contemporary Korean artists, starting in the late 70`s in Korea an art movement away from populist world views towards simplicity and positive artistic identities, focusing on making and unity between artist and nature, a dialectic between existentialistic views and materialistic purpose. The focus, Art Basel has taken this year, was laid on modern and larger scales as 2014.
The values of the art are varying depending on their reputation, public attention, production technic, but also on grouping effects. Art as every other profession must be sensitive for market mechanism, otherwise art prices aren’t showing the necessary gains to be significant enough for investments. Variables, for example, which can explain the largest differences between prices, are the size of the artwork, the expenses for producing the artwork, market factors and the own perception of value. The calculations for prices of artworks are often differing from calculations, you must be aware, if you are selling art pieces for a larger segments. While labouring costs having an essential part for larger industries, the prices of artwork are mostly set without respect of labouring costs and expenses. Within the art market, status as well as market considerations are mostly used as arguments, while production costs are of minor importance. Besides pricing consideration, one more important fact for gaining status, reputation and acceptance is being part of a larger artisan community, not only for your own technical know-how but also for the chances of gaining higher profits. As shown by Michael Farrell, artistic communities have five different very important grouping stages conceptualised as formation, shared values, manufacturing, collective actions and individuation. These five stages are all aiming towards the raising significance of the in-group in contrast to other outgroups orders. The relative importance of artwork can be enhanced with different effects. Next to methods using more expensive materials to get higher returns, you will find much subtler methods. Using the artwork of other more important artists for example can raise the margin, presumed you have found the right relations to other artworks. Various other technic must be considered, if you are taking your role in galleries, art fairs, auctions or internet, depending on identities and personalities, but also materialistic references and positioning effects.
Menschwerk 2014 was celebrated also this year at an old factory compound in Elsenfeld and presented artwork from better known artisans, designers, sculptors and painters around the region. Impressed by the different ways of handling images and using materials, the audience had the chance to talk to some of the artisans, being present at the art fair. After evaluating the different sketches and photos, I made during the two days, I was interested in interviewing Stefan Stichler from Frankfurt, who was presenting his view of identity with a sculptor, integrating the visitor into one part of his artwork, once he went through his visionary machine. I was visiting him in his atelier in one of the industrial complexes in Frankfurt. I started the talk about his works, sorted and categorised throughout is atelier. Mentioning the Exhibition, he pointed towards the resonance from the visitors, commented his sculptor in the guest book or emailed him even weeks later, and the counted 1.800 people, who walked through his sculptor, had been mostly amazed and astounded alike. We started our conversation with black coffee, knowing that the interview would last at least a few hours, I had already mentioned during the preparations. I was especially interested in his way of managing his work as an artist and his marketing framework for growing attention. Another very important aspect was to find out, how artists can create their own unique signature without loosing acceptance. In contrast to entrepreneurs, most of the artists can't adopt with smaller market effects during the production phase, because they are in need for almost global scales to create unique product or product scheme. Trade-offs in favour for market trends or trend topics are making the own work too small for further motivations and regional arguments have mostly too many negative attributes, inhibiting further thoughts. The question for example, which market size is best balanced, can later substitute the regional clustering and is also independent from market trends. Another very important marketing question is, where you can show your artwork in the most efficient way, raising your own importance with other artists in a way, that you are using for example effects of relative importance, mentioned in the study. Though his work is also touching industrial design, he wouldn’t name a furniture store as first choice for his sculpture, he has shown in Elsenfeld.
The market for artists have a lot of different aspects, he needs to consider, as for example the choice of art agencies, the choice of materials, but also networking effects. Though these important considerations for marketing and networking are not significant during the planning, creation, and production, as he is managing his work. In his opinion, the differences between art and market must be significant, since art has also the ability to change market transaction through its disruptive value for example. Though today, art must be built as a teaser to offer joint opportunities for different other medias, enabling audiences also to develop their own stories and ideas.
His own story started somewhere within the mid 90’s as skating, graffiti and music were dominating the life of a new generation of young people, also here in Germany, focusing solely on lifestyle on a search for records until the rise of the internet. He developed his ideas behind his own desktop, first with smaller sketches and later developing larger and more holistic scenarios. Today he is working in an atelier in Frankfurt, with wide references and a huge portfolio not only with paintings but also different furniture and sculptures. Though he has financed his career without any regrets, he wouldn’t deny an official funding at all, given a set of better conditions. Chances to be more creative with faster market entries can be found also in cooperation with other artists or networks, should be in the mindset of artists like considering cooperation and even trade offs for better selling opportunities. The most important feature of a cooperation is in his opinion authenticity, at least unless the artist has reached a critical value and is then substituted with an artistic personality, as a concept better and faster able to answers the needs of a professional today.
Painting is a completely free-floating and creative abstraction, using different technics as well as references in form of other sketches or constructions, which are developed in advance or during the painting of the picture. During his career, his ability to paint and picture images has reached a precision, that today most of his working is done without much conscious effort. An example is, that his work is guided by expectancies, of how different proportions are affecting the observer or the audience at large. The sculpture, shown at the Menschwerk 2014, for example, envisioned as „plant for immortality“, was built during two years and took several sights to be finished. He was lucky, as he was invited for Menschwerk 2014 and recommends art fairs for collectors and artists. For the near future, he is planning, for example, a newsletter, to keep clients and collectors even better up to date, to show his appointments and be more present as before. The article is ending with impressions from the interview, held in June 2014:
Can you name some of the advantages artists have in contrast to entrepreneurs?
One of the main differences between me and other professions is, that I only need to adapt my products in later stages. I don't consider segments of audiences or trending topics when I start to create a new painting. Graffiti has changed dramatically within the last years, making urban art highly selective. Also, the fact, that clients are ordering very specific paintings and motives is one of the newest developments in the market, especially for graffiti artists. There are no distinct directions anymore. Most of the themes and subjects are changing as well as the choice of materials. Urban art can get as expensive as traditional contemporary art.
How can markets and art be differentiated most easily?
Markets can be counted and have their rough rules. Art, however, is mostly created without rules, especially without negativity. Art is more capable for example if you are using it not to criticise but as a disruptor. Making daily routines slower or faster, for example, is better able to solve complexities, than too higher steps. Making a painting without considering timing effects, is destroying the painting. You can see this fact when you are visiting the museum. These are places where you can find silence and patience very fast, but get enough motivation for new ideas and bigger projects. Education is structuring basic needs. The best views, however, can be grasped in galleries, art fairs, and exhibitions. Being on spot is always the better choice.
Why did you choose Menschwerk 2014 for one of your exhibits?
I was selected as one of the exhibitors, already two years ago. I started the application to diversify my product portfolio. I was very lucky when I received the invitation for the exhibition, but at that time I was just developing. I finished several sculptors and started several times again to get that inner vision as real as it could be done. The exhibition was a success. Altogether 1.800 people went through my sculptor and left several hundred of comments.
When did you start with painting?
I started almost at the same time as skateboarding. I was fascinated from using graffiti as language and urban art in general. I have drawn thousands of different motives and started an apprenticeship. I needed to take the route towards clients and began my career as artists a short period later, without finishing the apprenticeship. I am highly satisfied with my work and the concepts, I am capable of creating and don't regret any decisions I made.
Have you received any official funding?
I haven't received any funding. Everything I earned has been reinvested. Lately almost everything in my new atelier. The atelier is located in Frankfurt Fechenheim, at one of the industrial complexes, the city is offering artists, musicians, and artisans.
How are you painting? Can you describe the phase, when you are doing the lines and dots?
I experience drawing as output. When I start drawing, I need to feel without inhibiting formalism. However, there are very different stops during the creative phase, when I need to reconsider, what I have done. These are the moments when I check and value what I know and am able to do. I need to be satisfied with my work, otherwise, I need to adjust or take a new route. Drawing and being creative can be best summarized as a free-floating ability in need for training and implicit knowing. When I am developing my ideas, I am using very different methods and technic. I am writing dairies as well as making photos. I am searching the internet as good as I am with getting ideas from prominent paintings and painters.
How are you managing your atelier?
Living with your own artwork is very delicate. Making good money decisions as an artist can only be done, when you have reached significance and are confident with your art. Besides that, you need a lot of market knowledge and contacts, to get very good ideas, but also able to market your art pieces. I am working together with different galleries and market professionals, informal as well as officially. I am developing furniture and artwork for Germany as well as for the Argentinian market, but am always in need for new opportunities.
Are you able to use different other mediums next to traditional technic?
I am able to absorb my ideas from paintings from Michelangelo Caravaggio for my paintings, but I would need to get time when I would be asked to use digital technologies. I have some ideas for digital technologies, but I am developing the best-centered ideas when I work as the traditional painter. I am using a very specific terminology not able to transfer to everything, what is up to date. A lot of translation would be necessary to reach a starting point. However, using videos and virtual technologies to enhance paintings, I am considering as an option.
Can you give recommendations, where to go, when you want to experience the better sides from Frankfurt?
The art scene in Frankfurt is acting globally and is within the city strongly tied. Radar is a good starting point to get to know some very interesting personalities from Frankfurt, for example. Globally known, however, is the Mainufer area with Germany best museums: Städel, Schirn, and the Film Museum are just a few to name.