This month, TheArtro presents a special feature series titled “How to Win Global Art Market,” that is essential for Korean Contemporary Art’s competitive stake in the Global Art Market. The series, starting with an article by the curator Daehyung Lee, interviews leading journalists, art consultants and art market and marketing specialists from around the world. Discussions on global art marketing trends and strategies over the past ten years are coupled with expert inputs on institutional support to strengthen the international competitiveness of Korean Contemporary Art. Experts interviewed include Carsten Recksik, the publisher of art magazine ArtReview and ArtReview Asia, Jane Morris, Editor-at-Large of The Art Newspaper, Partner of Futurecity, Sherry Dobbin and Louise Hamlin, founder of Art Market Minds, which is a leading platform for art business conferences. In addition, James Green, Director of theDavid Zwirner, Jagdip Jagpal, Director of India Art Fair, David Field, Freelance cultural communications consultant, and Jesse Ringham, Head of Content at the Serpentine Galleries also accepted our requests for interviews. These privileged insights from the insiders of the global art market surely deserve our undivided attention as Korean art sets sights on broader horizons.
Q : In the last 10 years, what major changes have there been in global marketing strategies? What kind of roles are being shared and collaborated in global and local media?
Jesse Ringham : Over the last 10 years I have been at the heart of how our arts industry has adapted and built a relationship with technology. Whilst we are still investing millions in the bricks and mortar of galleries, fairs and museums - digital (be it virtually) is quietly bringing billions of people around the world to these very galleries, fairs and museums every second, every day. Similarly, to commerce or banking, the media world has dramatically pivoted from print, desktop to mobile and now social media. Audiences now expect a ‘conversation’ with brands together with being informed and educated. The role of social media and indeed Google has greatly affected revenue generation from news media and advertising industries, whereas all museums, galleries and art fairs regardless of size are now all on the same level-playing field. Creativity is now key in content production, partnership and marketing directly to audiences. Social media has become the world’s biggest publisher, with us all being editors.
Q : We are experiencing a rapid change in platform from offline public relations to digital and mobile marketing. How are digital strategies changing, and how do you see its future?
JR : Digital strategies are changing as audiences are changing the way they communicate, experience and source information. Audiences are now becoming influenced by their friends and family and what they post and comment on through social media. The term ‘influencer’ has risen, where traditionally a journalist was an influencer, now anyone can have a voice and grow a loyal and extremely large following. The risk is whether that voice is trusted, is the news real or fake?
In terms of the future, museums, galleries and fairs are reaching directly to audiences through social media, producing their own editorial content and controlling their narrative to better effect. I have led my career by always discovering the most effective ways to reach and engage audiences through a strong editorial narrative, clear brand values and a thought-provoking approach to always develop and distribute high quality and deeply accessible content to all.
Q : What are your thoughts on the impact of technological development (ex. Big data, A.I.,etc.) to art market?
JR : The technology industry is moving at great speed. With change comes fear and lack of control. Positively, we have never been in a better position of ‘connectivity’ through social media, through our mobiles, through commerce and broadcasting. As we step deeper into the world of data, companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon are making great strides. Amazon alone pulls personal data sets across retail, entertainment, food purchases, finance, online cloud services and recently health data.
The impact of big data and artificial intelligence on jobs in the financial sector could be a cause for concern, where algorithms replace humans. However, the role of the arts, culture and creativity has never been so important as it is now. Freedom of thought, individualism and entrepreneurism are creative seeds in producing great art. The role of the artist and an artistic alterative view on the world should be a critical area that is harnessed by all banking boardrooms, corporate offices and commercial industries. Thinking differently through unique artistic thought is just as powerful as artificial data intelligence.
Q : There has been a long history of academic research to strengthen global competitiveness of Korean contemporary art. There is an absolute shortage of publications, journals and channels in English. What policy and institutional support do you think are required for the Korean government to overcome this?
JR : A continued Korean focus on securing global partnerships with international cultural institutions. Identifying institutions that harness all facets of creativity such as design, architecture, fashion, art, performance and technology. Creativity is powered by partnership as is innovation. Growing cultural exchange and collaboration with other countries is critical in championing Korean art. However, all ages and all degrees of artistic education need to be interwoven with any new cultural partnership. Having the vision that art should be open for everyone with audience inclusion always being key.
Q : Art fairs are overflowing, from affordable art fairs with limited price ranges to photo-centric fairs. Nevertheless, various attempts are being made to create a new kind of art market. What kind of art fairs do you think Korea needs?
JR : If a new art fair is launched, it must deliver a completely unique offering. My approach would be to look at a bigger cultural industry such as high-street retail. The retail industry at its simplest was about buying and selling. However, due to the digital revolution and e-commerce, customers now have seriously declined in terms of visiting shops. Retailers must adapt, evolve and present a new offer – just like art fairs. The ‘experience’ is key. Customers want a personal experience; they want to learn and feel at one with the brand they are buying from and a much-improved connection with sales teams. Physical shops or high-street banks could hopefully become places of experience, education, workshops - with the selling of goods purely happening online. Unique brand experience should always come first. Any new art fair needs to provide more than being a high-end ‘supermarket’ of art, they should first be incredible and open places for learning, debate and digital discovery. A new Korean art fair should not be simply a ‘fair’ which is only open for 4 or 5 days a year, but a ‘brand’ that continues to support its galleries 365 days-a-year, through its website, social media and a year around future events programme.
Q : How much are you familiar with Korean art history? Which Korean artists do you know, and from what route and point in time were you able to find out about them?
JR : Lee Bul and Nam June Paik are the artists I am most acquainted with. I discovered Lee Bul from the Hayward Gallery and Nam June Paik from Tate Liverpool. I feel the artworld is becoming blurred to better effect with other creative industries such as fashion, design, ecology and music - most notably in Korea and the recent BTS and Serpentine Gallery collaboration.
Q : Could you elaborate on how the artworld is becoming blurred with other creative industries? Could you provide examples of these unique collaborations and how they may be characteristic of their environments?
JR : Art, music and fashion have always had a very close relationship, such asAndy Warhol and Lou Reed/Velvet Underground, Alexander McQueen and Francis Bacon – musicians specifically have always created the largest, open door into the art world for many and not the few. The best possible approach for Korean art and artists to reach younger audiences is in partnership with larger creative industries such as music labels. I would very much focus on the more innovative media partners such as the film-only global platform NOWNESS. Aim at younger audiences now to maintain followers for tomorrow.
Q : What role do you think your current work plays in terms of the overall art ecosystem? And with what areas do you find collaboration important?
JR : Every gallery, museum or art fair needs to tell two stories through content. First, who they are as a brand, their vision, their DNA and narrative. What is their unique place and authority on art and artists? Second, is how they make their artists and artworks as accessible as possible to new lovers of art, how can galleries keep their doors wide open, inspire, educate and eliminate the stigma of exclusivity and ‘art speak.’ How can museums innovate and break down these barriers to bring us all together? The answer is always to collaborate and partner with brands that are different and offer a wider audience. Creativity and innovation will always come from partnerships be it with a tech brand, a broadcaster or another cultural institution offering a different voice.
Q : Various programs for securing new collectors are evolving in different ways. What aspects of Korean contemporary art should be strengthened in order to appeal to global collectors? What has changed in the criteria for collectors that they find most important?
JR : Technology is key. To strengthen and attract new collectors a quality and well-thought through digital content offering that tells the story of the artists that you are promoting. Films, interviews and features with leading advocates and well-known voices from business, finance, technology and creative industries will resonate and align to collectors across the board. ‘Opening the door’ to collecting, collecting online and removing the fear of the unknown. Eliminating as much as possible the complications in how to collect is a priority. Digital can easily do this through websites, social media, partnerships and advocacy.
Q : The COVID-19 pandemic is resulting in changes in our everyday lives, heightening our dependency on the digital world. In what ways do you think digital contents increase accessibility and reduce complications in securing sponsors and visitors? Could you provide examples of the evolving digital programmes at the Serpentine galleries?
JR : Due to the current situation surrounding COVID-19 and the global pandemic, our interaction with art has adapted overnight. Art now comes into our homes 24/7. As the museum doors shut and the commercial galleries temporarily close their shutters, digital has now become the first option to communicate and engage the public. Every cultural and commercial brand has had to fast-forward. We have all now become curators with digital content providing a better and more interpretative approach in making art more accessible for broader audiences. Social media too has provided a direct, trusted and personal relationship with artists as they take to Instagram to provide tours of their studios, classes and live performances. Where previously an after-thought, the audience are now at the heart and front row of artistic creation. The Serpentine is in the process of delivering online-only exhibitions beamed from East Asia, immersive digital experiences and online experimentation that will connect artist’s studios and practices from all over the world through live broadcasting and audience participation. Sponsorship is being revaluated. Patrons, donors and partners are drawn to wanting Serpentine content for their own personal channels, feeds and corporate websites. A new income stream is finally developing.
How to Win Global Art Market by Daehyung Lee
How to Win Global Art Market - An Interview with Carsten Recksik
How to Win Global Art Market - An Interview with Jane Morris
How to Win Global Art Market - An Interview with Sherry Dobbin
How to Win Global Art Market - An Interview with Louise Hamlin
How to Win Global Art Market - An Interview with James Green
How to Win Global Art Market - An Interview with Jagdip Jagpal
How to Win Global Art Market – An Interview with David Field
Jesse Ringham has 18 years of experience evolving brands and marketing to audiences across both commercial and cultural industries. Jesse's background is in digital transformation within the cultural and commercial industries. He specialises in brand strategy, audience development, partnerships and marketing innovation. Presently, Jesse is Head of Content for Serpentine Galleries, where he manages the voice, creative direction, narrative and production of all content. Jesse is leading Serpentine’s new editorial media approach to marketing. Jesse's previous role was Director of Marketing and Digital for one of the most influential, international cultural agencies, Sutton Communications. Jesse was at the centre of the agency’s fully integrated offer across digital, production and editorial marketing. Jesse was also responsible for launching Tate's new approach to engaging audiences, where he launched Tate's social media and content marketing through film and brand partnerships. Jesse currently works with brands ranging from world-class museums, major and emerging galleries, non-profit institutions, global art fairs, biennials and corporate sponsors.