The State of Digital Art Collecting: 7 Key Takeaways

By Wayne Chang

Will the future of art collecting be digital?

The fundamentals of art collecting haven’t changed much over the centuries and have mostly involved buying physical works of art from physical galleries for display in physical locations. But like in every other industry, technology is radically changing the way we create art and collect it. Today, art can be created digitally, collected through digital means, and displayed digitally in a physical location or in virtual spaces.

But how do art collectors feel about this change and easily embrace this new world of digital art, especially in the midst of such a fluctuating market? Our recent report on “State of Art Collecting 2022” gathered insights from a thousand art collectors to better understand their readiness or resistance to changing digital trends, the rise of NFTs, the use of online sources for artist discovery, and more.

Seven snapshots of the state of the art collection

The world of art collecting doesn’t look the same as it did ten or even five years ago. What is changing and what do collectors think?

1. Collectors discover new artists through online and physical galleries.

The art collectors we interviewed made one thing clear: the world of art sales and art collecting is going digital. An equal number of art collectors discover new artists through marketplaces or online galleries (37.4%) as those who go through physical art galleries (36.7%). A recent report also confirmed these findings, showing that in 2021 collectors bought directly through a website or online viewing room slightly more (44%) than through a physical gallery (42%).

2. 61% of collectors are comfortable buying art online.

Buying art online has a very different flavor than an impulse purchase through Amazon. Art collectors seek out works that they can emotionally connect with, or that inspires or challenges them. Can they get the same emotional reaction buying art online? It turns out it is, with 61% of art collectors saying they are somewhat or very comfortable buying art online.

During the pandemic, some physical galleries closed and others moved their work online, forcing collectors to follow suit, which they did easily. In fact, 42% have purchased more artwork since the COVID-19 pandemic began. As a result, many brick-and-mortar art galleries previously without an online presence launched viewing rooms for collectors to browse and buy art from home, while existing online marketplaces and galleries flourished.

3. 56% think digital art has as much monetary value as physical art.

Digital art creation has been around since the middle of the 20th century and is becoming more and more popular year after year. But it’s still very new, especially compared to traditional mediums like painting and sculpture, which begs the question, “Do collectors view digital art as having equal value?” Art buyers are pretty much split on their response. Just over half (56%) of respondents think digital art should have as much monetary value as art you can physically see and touch. Not only are digital channels for discovering and buying artists gaining legitimacy and acceptance, but so is digital art.

However, we have yet to see how the recent market downturn, which has had a significant impact on the price of digital art and NFTs, will influence the response. Does a thing have the same value when its price can change so quickly?

4. 63% have purchased NFT art in the past year.

What is the position of collectors on art NFTs? 63% of art collectors have purchased an NFT in the past year, which is similar to the number of those who are comfortable buying art online and consider digital art a the same value as physical art. Additionally, 64% of collectors say they are likely to purchase an art NFT in the next year.

Those who have bought an NFT in the past year are likely holding something at a very different price than what they originally bought, due to the crypto crash. However, collectors say they look forward to what NFTs can do for the art world and believe they will also help legitimize digital art. While some are in it for a little money, many collectors are in it to build the digital art world for the long haul.

5. The hesitation to buy an NFT stems from the need for more education and guidance.

Although already widely adopted, many art collectors are still hesitant to purchase an NFT. They consider the process too complicated, don’t know where to buy them, don’t know how to enjoy or display them, and don’t know which creators are worth collecting.

What might help? Collectors said they wanted an easier buying process or someone to show them how. They also want more information about what NFTs are and their value when considering buying one – and likely reassurance that it’s a worthwhile investment, despite recent market volatility. crypto. Without the proper context and knowledge of what they are, NFTs will remain just a buzzword for many collectors.

6. At the start of 2022, 22% of collectors plan to spend more than $5,000 on NFTs next year.

As adoption increases, art collectors are looking to add NFTs to their portfolios in the future, joining the nearly 4 million active portfolios buying NFTs today. 64% of collectors say they are likely to buy an art NFT in the next 12 months and spend over $5,000 on NFTs in the next year as well. Of all the different mediums, art collectors say they plan to spend the most on NFTs next year, followed by paintings and digital art.

7. The majority sees digital art dominating in five years.

What will be the future of the art collection? Will it be a balance between digital and physical art, or will digital art dominate? As demonstrated above, there is a clear shift towards digital, and 60% of art collectors surveyed believe that in five years the digital art market will become more important than the traditional art market or physical.

The future of collecting

Will the future of art collecting go digital? It certainly seems to be heading in that direction. However, a richer art world will be one in which the long tradition of physical art coexists with a burgeoning world of digital creation that offers artists and collectors new opportunities and benefits.

About the Author:

Wayne Chang is the Managing Director of Saatchi Art, the world’s first online art gallery. As Managing Director, he is responsible for directing the Saatchi Art business, overseeing both product development and overall brand strategy.

Chang has spent most of his career as a product manager with over 15 years of experience, working on complex challenges in e-commerce markets that require a wide range of applications including AR/VR tools , visual search and blockchain authentication.

As a visual artist and former web developer, Chang’s expertise lies in creating products at the intersection of art and technology. Chang holds an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management and a Bachelor of Science from New York University. He currently resides in Los Angeles, California.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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