Millennials spend more on art than you might think. Here’s what Chattanooga Millennials buy and how they buy it.

Millennials spent more on art in 2020 than any other age group of high net worth investors, according to a survey by UBS and Arts Economics. Thirty percent of millennials – the oldest of whom are 40 this year – have spent more than $ 1 million on artwork, compared to 17% of baby boomers, he reports.

As the art market evolves to serve a millennial audience, new trends are taking shape locally and around the world.

A large portion of millennial collectors are women and they seek a job that they connect with as a woman, says local art advisor Elizabeth Ruffner, who helps people find the best value and coins to build their collections through his company, Ruffner Art Advisory. As a result, the works of women have become more popular around the world, as well as the works of Asian and Middle Eastern artists, she says.

Raquel Mullins, owner of Wavelength Space, a new artist-run gallery in Chattanooga, agrees that art for millennials is more “a lifestyle statement.” Thanks to platforms like Patreon, millennials will even support artists in creating work that they feel connected with in the same way they might support an entrepreneur on Kickstarter, without expecting a return on their investment.

Here are some of the other habits in this new demographic that are impacting the art scene.

They are not as interested in the old masters.

Rachel Reese has worked in contemporary art for the past 12 years, first in commercial galleries in New York, Philadelphia and Atlanta and now as director of the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga.

“Maybe the older generations were collecting art more for investment reasons and thinking about building a portfolio, or they were buying it for personal enjoyment,” she says. “But I think young collectors, young art patrons are less interested in thinking about it as an investment and more simply as something that they can connect to in terms of experience or something that they want to live with in their own life. house, ”Reese said.

In fact, says Ruffner, the millennials who inherit such coins tend to auction them off.

They don’t always spend a lot on a single room.

“I think a lot of people balk when they see the cost of fine art because they don’t always understand the work and time that goes into it,” says Mullins.

So to make art accessible, artists make it more affordable, “like between $ 50 and $ 300,” she says.

Still, Reese, who is a millennial herself, says young art lovers want something original.

“The attitude towards consumerism is a little different among the younger generations, and maybe a little more thoughtful,” she says. “I collect works of art myself and am much more interested in collecting an original work of art than buying something mass produced.”

They discover and buy art on Instagram and other online platforms, and galleries are doing more online commerce to capture these audiences.

According to “UBS and Art Basel Global Art Market Report 2021,” about a third of collectors purchased art through Instagram in 2020. Mullins says most of the artists featured at Wavelength also sell artwork on Instagram.

“Over the last decade there has certainly been a big explosion of different online platforms that have popped up that offer this type of transaction model for buying authentic works of art,” agrees Reese. “I think maybe ten years ago or more there was more reluctance to buy work online because it’s such a physical experience – to be able to see it, to make a decision in person and buy something in person.

The pandemic has accelerated this trend.

“I think galleries are significantly more dependent on online audiences than they were in the past to be viable today, especially last year when you can’t travel that much,” she says. “For galleries to stay afloat, they need to find audiences – virtual audiences and virtual collectors.”

However, the popularity of digital platforms will not mean the end of art fairs and physical gallery spaces, which still drive the market, says Ruffner.

“There’s a reason the art industry was pretty much the last industry to move online, and humanization is still important to millennial shoppers,” she says.

They are interested in different mediums and materials.

Ruffner says fabric is a big part of new artwork, but the variety of popular mediums doesn’t end there.

“In the same way that the field of contemporary art and the many different ways that artists work now have exploded, the type of collection has also grown rapidly,” says Reese. “You can collect video art, and you can do it responsibly and authentically with galleries or with an artist. You can buy an NFT.”

NFT stands for non-fungible token, a generally digital asset whose authenticity is verified using blockchain technology. It is essentially a digital record of transactions that is difficult to edit because it is sent over many networks.

“Thinking about how our world is so digitally connected and guided by digital content, how do you create an original work of art that only exists in the digital realm? How do you say that this image is the original image that all the rest is memorized or That’s sort of what I understand from what the NFT does, that it’s the single, original source image that you can buy, ”says Reese.

“What I think is different about this than buying a painting, for example, is that you understand as a collector that you cannot control its distribution or reproduction online, but that you own it. the original, ”she adds. “With a paint, once you own the paint in your home, you know it is not being distributed anywhere else. The image may be, but the work of art exists in the physical realm.

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