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Art galleries and internationalisation: why and how you go global

· Art Market

Internationalisation is a strategy whereby companies expand and develop internationally, often in order to take advantage of new opportunities offered by other countries and foreign markets.

Why are galleries becoming international?

To increase their legitimacy

One main advantage of a gallery going international is to gain legitimacy. Indeed, by migrating or expanding to contemporary art capitals in the US, UK and France, they acquire greater renown. This reduces uncertainty surrounding the quality of the artworks or the artists’ talent. It builds trust between the gallery and both its wider public and potential collectors. Transparency and trust are key values for collector loyalty.

To improve their reputation

A gallery establishing itself abroad increases its reputation; locally, regionally and worldwide. The better the gallery’s reputation, the better it attracts new collectors. What’s more, it’s logical that the more a gallery diversifies its sites (and touchpoints), the greater its reach and potential growth in sales. It’s simple maths! Finally, internationalisation is proof of a gallery’s financial status. It’s a great marker of success that once again reinforces a gallery’s reputation.

To bring new artistic trends to the fore

An international expansion is a whole new ballgame: it’s a new market, where galleries can unearth emerging talent. It's often much easier to find local talent once actually in situ.
And it works both ways! Galleries become more easily known to international talent, and indeed facilitate contact, through reducing geographical barriers. That’s one of the reasons why curators travel so much. Internationalisation is equally an opportunity to ‘follow’ major collectors: certain countries are more likely to invest in contemporary art than others.

To cut costs

Although internationalisation may at first seem risky and costly, it guarantees galleries a significant reduction in costs in the long term. The development of several points of sale around the world helps to stabilise a gallery's often unstable revenues. It’s easier to make several large sales per month.
A smaller, but not negligible dimension is the reduction of shipping costs and the risk of damage to works during delivery.
Finally, some countries wishing to develop their art market are overcoming barriers to entry and encouraging foreign investment. This could take the form of government assistance when setting up a new gallery within its territory or organising a large-scale cultural event.

How do galleries expand internationally?

By participating in international events

There are various ways for a gallery to expand internationally, each with different levels of expense and risk. The most common method is to take part in international art events, such as fairs, exhibitions (salons) or Biennials. To be precise, a contemporary art fair is first and foremost a commercial event. It should not be confused with a biennial or a salon, where artworks are exhibited and compete for prizes, but are not for sale.
For many galleries, taking part in fairs has become essential in the promotion of their artists. It’s a way to connect with new and regular collectors, establish the gallery’s identity and give a human side to it, build customer loyalty, prove its place in the art market and finally, reach an international audience.
However, the positive impacts of a fair aren’t always immediate: it’s a long process of building relationships.

Nevertheless, this type of event can be subject to risks and cancellations, so it is best not to develop your entire visibility strategy on it. Isolation due to Covid-19 is an example of this. Online sales platforms such as Artsper ensure you a lasting visibility in all periods.

By opening a new international site

A second way to internationalise your gallery is to set up an office abroad. Before doing so, you should carry out a market study, as well as an inventory of the gallery's resources (financial, personal and material). The decision to physically expand a business overseas is not one to take lightly, and it is often advisable to call upon a third party. Your final destination should take into account, among other things, the art market’s economy and trends, as well as the cultural differences of each country and the purchasing behaviour of its citizens.

By selling on an online marketplace like Artsper!

And last but not least! A gallery’s internationalisation can also be achieved by selling its works online. Less expensive than the two previous solutions and, above all, less risky, it is the first step towards internationalisation. Thanks to the internet, mobile phones and diverse payment systems, access to art can be simplified, barriers to purchase overcome and sales multiplied. Our online catalogue supports galleries' physical exhibitions. On Artsper, galleries benefit from a support service as well as the creation of editorial content to promote their artists on the platform. Finally, thanks to Artsper, galleries and collectors from all over the world can interact on a global scale - in just one click.

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