SABC News - Internet growth transforming Africas art industry:Monday 4 August 2014

Internet growth transforming Africa's art industry

Monday 4 August 2014 11:20

Matiba Mutheiwana

Internet growth drives online  art sales in Africa.

Internet growth drives online art sales in Africa.(SABC)

Online galleries are booming in SA as more African artist make efforts to reach the international audience.

Guns & Rain founder Julie Taylor, who left global giant Google SA to start an  online gallery, says growth in internet penetration in Africa is transforming all industries and driving online art sales and exposure of African artists.

"There is increased interest, especially in the last 18 months, in African contemporary art. I think for a long time African artists, especially contemporary artists, have been under represented on the global stage and I really feel that there’s a role for the internet to change that," says Taylor.

"We see the art industry globally moving online in a big way. The internet is changing every kind of industry," says Taylor.

Online payment platforms like PayPal has also played a major role in growing online sales and boosting online based entrepreneurs in Africa.

"It all happens online, and that’s the power of the internet….You go online, use your credit card, it connects with PayPal, it’s safe, its secure and you can have your art delivered in a short period of time depending on where you live," says Taylor.

I’m working with a number of players in the local industry, advisors and arts collectives to find out who the young emerging artists are

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Selling on Social media platforms vs  online galleries

Though a significant number of artists in Africa promote and sell their own work on personal websites and social platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter; online galleries, according to Taylor, she offers a bigger audience with consistent promotion of the products.  

"A lot of them don’t have time to spend doing all that online marketing. And I think that’s were my expertise comes in and where the power of Guns & Rain come in," she says.

Upcoming artist Themba Khumalo says social media platforms are great for promoting artists work but seldom generate online sales.
"In terms of social networks, you normally have your friends [following you] and your friends can’t afford the artwork," says Khumalo.

He says online galleries often collaborate with art collectors and their own clients; which gives artists exposure to a bigger client base.

Unlike most online galleries, Guns & Rain is a curated site. So not everyone will make the cut to have their work on the site.

"I’m working with a number of players in the local industry, advisors and arts collectives to find out who the young emerging artists are who are doing particularly well in their careers," says Tailor.
This then leads to a selection process.

The Money
As with mainstream galleries, artists submit their price to the gallery and the gallery makes a commission from the sale.

"The important thing is that artists get a fair price and don’t get exploited in any way. So they name their price and Guns & Rain places a commission on top of that price for the piece to go online." says Taylor.

Tailor says online galleries often place a relatively lower commission on artwork compared to off-line galleries which require a physical space to display and sell artwork.

Behind the name:
"Guns & Rain is actually a name of a book by an anthropologist who was studying the independence war in Zimbabwe, so he was there just after the war ended and he was looking at the relationship between spirit mediums and guerrilla soldiers.
And it’s a lot of themes in his book around identity, belonging, land, struggle and I think those themes are important to our contemporary artists. Which is why I got permission from the author of the anthropology book to call my platform Guns and Rain." – Julie Taylor, Guns and Rain founder.

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