Making Monet: Is the Internet Helping or Hurting Visual Artists?

The eye shown above is known as “Refugee” by Kit King, an oil painting on linen wrapped gallery panel.

Published on The DTS

Kit King starts her mornings with a hearty dose of social media and a side of relentless emails.

King is a fine art, oil painter that specializes in contemporary realism. Most days, before her brush touches the canvas, her husband usually joins her in the studio. He is also a painter.

“Cold and Clear” by Kit King. Silver oil paints featuring metal pigment on linen canvas.

“We paint for hours until our stomachs remind us that time and hunger exist, and force us to break,” says King.

Thanks to her online presence, having amassed 368,000 followers on Instagram, King has acquired quite a reputation. She is preparing for her second solo exhibition at the Athen B. Gallery in Oakland, California from August through September.

King says the Internet has enabled her to overcome the professional challenge set by her agoraphobia, which is a disabling fear of public spaces and new faces. Due to this, King could only do the interview via email. King says she initially had no way of popularizing and selling her work, which is why she turned to online communities for support.

“Once galleries and collectors started to take notice, I realized it was imperative to create a professional portfolio online, and even carefully curate my social media in a professional manner,” King explained.

Heffel, one of Canada’s largest fine art auctioneers, put the growing significance of online art sales into perspective. In 1999, Heffel launched their first online auction which made the corporation $15,000. This year, Heffel made $2 million in online revenue. David Heffel, the president of the auction house, says he sees online sales continuing in growth.

“In this last year, our online transactions comprise over 20 per cent of our gross annual sales. Within the next five to 10 years, online purchases will likely represent 50 per cent of all sales,” Heffel says.

But all new technologies pose challenges.

Read the full in-depth piece on The DTS!

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