Last Wednesday, our director and co-founder Joe Kennedy joined LAPADA CEO Freya Simms and What’s Up curator Lawrence Van Hagen for a panel discussion regarding art collecting. The panel, chaired by The Art Newspaper’s Anna Brady, touched on topics ranging from gallery etiquette for first time buyers, to the perils of investing in young, on-trend artists.
As a millenial collector who also happens to be one of the youngest gallerists in the world, Joe Kennedy is forging a name as one of the leading voices among the next generation of art world professionals. Joe kicked off the evening by imploring young collectors to “buy what you love, that’s the most important thing. If you connect with a piece, ultimately you’re going to be living with it, you want it to be a reflection of your social identity, it has to be something you’re proud of and you can speak about to your mates.”
The discussion then moved on to art market structures and the difficulties young collectors face: “ultimately it’s a case of supply and demand, that’s what the art world is really: it’s great marketing and supply and demand. It’s the gallery’s role to build scarcity into the marketplace and make sure it’s difficult to get works in primary. In the case of all these hot young artists we are talking about, it’s virtually impossible to get a work on primary from the galleries that represent them.”
“If you’re starting out collecting, this entire lack of transparency in the market-place is what makes it really difficult for people to engage. The lack of transparency is still the biggest issue with people engaging in art.”
Outlining the Unit London practice and vision, Joe went on to explain that “we’re focusing on the primary market and, a lot of the time, we’re working with artists who don’t have established markets, we help them find their feet and get into collections for the first time. What we love doing is building communities around the artist and the gallery and the programme. Social media is a great way to do that.”
“When we started out we didn’t know anyone in the art world: we didn’t come from collecting families, we didn’t have journalists we could call and ask to write about our shows, so we used what we had available to us: social media. If you have a good story to tell then social media is a great platform to build a community, so we did that and then in terms of people, it’s a good gauge of what the cultural and social conversation is.”
When asked who’s work he would currently buy for $1,000 and $10,000, Joe – ever faithful to his group of artists – replied Emily Marie Miller and Ryan Hewett respectively. Finally, he spoke about the young artists on the Unit London roster and the responsibility the gallery owes to them: “our role is about protecting those artists and sustaining their career for the long term, the role of the gallery is really to provide the infrastructure around an artists’ career, they need to be protected, their prices need to be sustainable and their work needs to develop and be shown in the right places at the right time.”
If U are interested in hearing more from Joe and learning more about the work we do at Unit London click here to view the Talking Galleries panel discussion that took place last month in Barcelona, the talk shines a light on the habits of millennial collectors.