Stories Matter, Building Quality Content and Embracing Digital Spaces
Down arrow
All Stories

Stories Matter, Building Quality Content and Embracing Digital Spaces

Artlogic's Joe Elliot discusses how to engage collectors through storytelling, why data isn't scary, and building a fairer art market.

October 12th, 2022

In anticipation of our event Arcarta x Adapt, we sat down with our expert panel to discuss technological innovation in the art market.

Over the following few weeks we released these short Q&A's to give our network insight into each panelist's unique point of view. In this instalment we speak to Joe Elliott, COO and Co Managing director of Artlogic.

The Art of Storytelling

As one of the longest running tech companies for the art market, Artlogic have a unique and rare insight into the evolution of both galleries and collector needs. In his role as COO and Co-Managing director Joe Elliot has seen these changes more closely than most. We chatted about how collector expectations have changed, building long lasting relationships and how effective storytelling creates meaningful connections.

Full Q&A below.

Forging Trust

As a company that has witnessed the changing ways galleries connect with their audiences, how has technology [such as online viewing rooms] affected collector expectations?

The pandemic served as a turning point within the art industry: a shakeup like no other that disrupted traditional business models. Art fairs were cancelled and the currency of footfall was rendered valueless, forcing the art world into a socially-distanced tech space. Galleries, auction houses and fairs reacted creatively. 

Retaining customers and maintaining artist visibility became the priority, allowing unfamiliar digital technologies and channels to take centre stage.

When it comes to the ways in which this has impacted collector behaviours, there have been a few marked shifts in expectations, namely: a willingness to purchase online, demand for a variety of digital content and greater confidence in online exploration and research.

David Zwirner, for example. In June 2020, they hosted an online-only exhibition of Jeff Koons’ sculpture Balloon Venus Lespugue (Red). As part of the gated online exhibition, viewers had access to behind-the-scenes videos, exclusive sketches, and the artist’s own commentary to the show. The result? The work sold for $8 million through the gallery’s online showroom.

Collectors now expect a story as part of the package. From otherwise-unseen content to exclusive online access to the work itself, the demand for digital content has increased tenfold as collectors rely more heavily on virtual experiences of artworks. 

On the other hand, collectors are far more at ease with spending larger amounts online. However, for the latter to be true, a high degree of trust has to be established between the collector and seller.

This trust is forged by delivering an engaging digital experience, a well-considered suite of content alongside online viewings, and exclusive add ons.

What is true of delivering an online experience that entices collectors to buy is that it has to go above and beyond, and (somewhat obviously) the tech has to work. A low quality OVR isn’t going to generate a high value purchase, and a glitchy website isn’t going to inspire trust – if the digital delivery isn’t slick, then you can assume collector interest will dwindle. 

Data Doesn't Have To Be Scary...

At the heart of any art business is the desire and importance of building strong and long lasting relationships. There is a common fear that digitisation is incompatible with this kind of relationship building. In your experience, how can tech assist in a process that feels so personal?

One of the biggest things that tech opens up is opportunity for better, more meaningful and more impactful communication with clients. Yes, a real life meeting or gallery opening is tricky to simulate online (tech will never fully replace this), however using tech to get creative with communications fosters interest, engagement, and (ultimately) trust. 

Being smart with technology opens up endless opportunities to maximise efficient and interesting collector relationships. 

Granted, the magic doesn’t work overnight. Planning out a strong, digital comms strategy that spans several months is key. Think exclusive content, online events, video interviews, original digital assets – serving clients with unique content is so much easier digitally, because you’re no not bound by limitations of print, or the few short hours you have your audience’s attention during an event.

To really push any digital comms to the next level, Customer Relationship Management tools are essential. CRM provides the ability to plan, track and adjust what’s working (and what’s not), meaning that you can fully tailor the way in which you engage with your clients. 

Data is the gold dust of digitisation. And well maintained data isn’t scary, or intrusive, or unmanageable. Far from it. 

Data helps you understand your clients in a far more nuanced way. It allows you to build a profile of those who’ll most likely want to buy certain works, and therefore those who’ll love to receive exclusive interviews with a specific artist, or related content.

Imagine getting exclusive and captivating content from your favourite artist delivered straight to your inbox. Wouldn't that be great? Wouldn’t that make you look forward to the next email? Wouldn’t that help to build interest in the works themselves, increasing the chances of a purchase?

That’s the kind of opportunities digitisation affords – far from being impersonal, suddenly you can fine-tune the way you speak to clients that sings to their interests so well that they engage on a deeper, more connected level. 

The Next Wave of Collectors

It is clear that the digital world has become just as important as the physical world. What possibilities arise from this shift that make you excited for the future?

The most impactful possibilities centre around technologies like digital payments. Developments in this area will deliver far greater efficiency in the sales process (something that is currently incredibly manual) as well dramatically improved protection for all parties involved: making a fairer world for those selling, and a safer world for those buying. 

Digitisation streamlines the end-to-end processes. From exhibiting works and making a sale, to the fulfilment and processing of orders: a slick digital process will ultimately allow artists to make a living from what they create, helps galleries to grow and thrive, removes the outdated analogue hassle for collectors and, ultimately, gets more art onto more people’s walls.

It’s also impossible not to mention Gen-Z here. With a purchasing power worth $143 billion Gen-Z has entered the ring as the next wave of collectors. For a generation who values a great online experience just as highly as the physical one, the digital world plays an essential role in the buying journey. From generating intrigue, to nurturing the lead, to qualifying a sale and processing the payment, the ways in which Gen-Z expect to be treated as a customer pave the way for a digitally-centric future in which a digital purchase will feel just as special as a physical one.

In time, digital-world purchases will be pushed into a premium space that curates the end-to-end buying journey in such a refined manner that it elevates the process beyond just another purchase to become a memorable experience. All of these advancements have a positive impact upon the art world of tomorrow, as the digital world doesn’t detract from the physical world, it enhances it. If deployed correctly, digital solutions provide the key to securing artistic longevity and success. 

Listen to Joe Discuss Storytelling on our panel...

About Joe Elliott

Joe Elliott is the Co Managing Director & CCO of global art tech business, Artlogic.

For the past decade, Joe has been helping galleries, artists and collectors to embrace technology in a way that enhances the management, sales and overall interaction with art, both in person and online. Having begun his career working for commercial galleries in New York, Joe moved into the world of art tech, working for the start-up Collectirum prior to joining Artlogic in 2012. He holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MA in Visual Arts Administration from New York University.

About Arcarta x Adapt

Arcarta x Adapt was an in person event that took place on November 3rd at Cromwell Place which aimed to empower the art market with the tech of the future.

Assembling a group of experts at the cutting edge of their fields, this two part panel discussion and networking event provided inspiration and insights, alongside the technological tools to make them a concrete reality.

To access our event hub click here, where you will find additional resources, photos and videos from the panel discussion.

The Latest

About arcarta

Arcarta is a Due Diligence platform for the art market and is used by over 300 Art businesses internationally.

Get in touch

To learn more or get in touch please use the Contact page.