How to sell digital art on the Internet or in a world wide marketplace.
An essay, article, writing about digital, modern and contemporary art
By Rick Doble


The following essay was written in response to an e-mail asking about markets for the new digital art.

Response to Daniel Grant (Contributing Editor, American Artist magazine)

Daniel Grant's questions:

"I am a contributing editor of American Artist magazine, and I have a question or two I would like to ask you with regard to the market for artwork generated on the computer. I am struck by the seeming disconnect between the enthusiasm of young artists for producing art through computer programs and the direction of the art market itself, in which collectors continue to to seek out traditional media. I don't doubt that I am missing something. I would like to know: who are the buyers for this new material? where they buy it? what they pay for it? and what the predictions are for it. The largest market for art using computers that I otherwise see are giclees, which are otherwise a form of photographic reproductions."

My Response

First, there is not much of a market for computer art at the moment, but both the Whitney in NY and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art have had major computer art shows in the last year.

Like any art form it has to be created first and the market comes later. I am quite sure that when gallery owners first saw Calder's now famous circus, they wondered what kind of market could exist for such an odd collection. Of course now the value must be astronomical.

I believe that with the development and lower price of flat screens, it will be possible to sell one or more of my images to be displayed on a flat screen that would hang on the wall just like a painting. With the touch of a button an owner could change pictures or program the display to change on a regular basis.

In the review by Richard Lacayo of the Whitney and San Francisco shows in Time magazine in the April 2, 2001 issue, he wrote, 'And it doesn't hurt that both of them [exhibits], as so much digital art, are displayed on wall-mounted flat-screen TV's, bits of cultural merchandise as sumptuous in their high-tech way as the Baroque wooden garlands that frame a Rubens.'

Repeating and looping animations could be even be shown. I create a number of these and they have received good reviews. See some of my animations and a review at the bottom of the page at:

As the reviewer of my work at eDigitalPhoto wrote, 'He sees these animations not as mini-movies, but as unique four-dimensional art forms. They loop and repeat, each time with the timing a little different, so he equates them to being more like music pieces or a pulsing, living being.'

This idea is also echoed by the English reviewer, David Martin-Jones from British journal, FILM-PHILOSOPHY:

who wrote about my animations, 'These [photographs in sequence] are then placed in a loop, or repeated, but with asynchronous intervals between each shot. The randomness inscribed aims, Doble argues, towards the same goals as those of the futurists, or the cubists: the visualizing of the whole of an object in both space and time. It is the perfect example of the way in which technological innovations change the way art is created..."

Also digital photography may have solved one of the principle problems in photography and art for that matter, the problem of the fading image. As I pointed out in my essay, 'THOUGHTS ABOUT USING A DIGITAL CAMERA'

Full article at:

'A principle concern of contemporary academic photography has been the length of time that a photographic image will last. Black and white photos have a much longer life than color images so many schools and museums rejected color photography. However, digital photography has, essentially, an infinite life because information about the image is saved on a computer disk not the image itself. While color monitors may fade, the computer file can always be copied onto a disk or put on a CDROM and then displayed on a new color monitor.'

To answer your questions specifically:

#1. Who are the buyers for this new material?

Well, Bill Gates is supposed to be installing huge flat panels in the house that he is building, so he might buy some. Other high-end art buyers should also be interested. As an artist I could provide a buyer with a signed and numbered CD and/or encode numbering or even the buyers name into each picture file which would make the pictures unique and more marketable.

#2. Where will they buy it?

In a gallery or off the Internet. I think a gallery would be best because then a buyer could see exactly how it looks and operates. However, because the Internet allows buyers to deal directly with artists, other buyers might get artists to design unique installations such as their own particular selection of images from an artist's portfolio.

#3. What will they pay for it?

The cost of an LCD screen, especially a large one will, set the bottom line. I would suspect it would be some multiple of the cost of the LCD screen at least until the artist gets very famous.

#4. What are the predictions for it?

Because of the nature of both photography and digital media, I believe that many artists, including myself, will sell not just one image but a series of images. For example, I have divided my site into over 25 themed exhibits. I could put one entire exhibit on an LCD display or a lot more. Sony already is retailing small LCD screens that can show a series of images called the Cyberframe(tm) Display. This technology is bound to get more sophisticated like everything else. LCD screens will fade and fail over time, but the stored digital data for an image never fades as long as the data is stored correctly. Replacing a screen with a new one will bring back the original beauty.There might be arrangements so that a buyer would have a backup to an image stored safely somewhere else. This would insure that the image would always be available to the buyer and could not be destroyed."

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© Copyright 2002 by Richard deGaris Doble
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