Collectors’ Mindsets Move from the Physical to Digital;change from art world to art experience


As Neon Mob illustrates, it’s the digital age, and that means art galleries and collectors are seeing a reshaping of the art world

Anna Johansson

Most art galleries you visit today will feature mostly (if not all) physical paintings, sculptures, and other artwork. Any artwork portrayed on a screen would be considered a little too different for the traditional museum. However, more and more prominent art galleries are sharing digitally-created art, and thanks to websites such as Neon Mob that make the creating and selling of digital art easier than ever, we are seeing a general shift from physical art to digital in galleries and museums around the country. 

Digital Art’s Impact Today

Today, more than 2 billion people are on the Internet, and many of that number spend four hours or more per day online. With that in mind, it’s important to recognize the powerful effect that the digital world has on our culture, particularly where art is concerned. It dulls some senses, but heightens others, particularly sight and sound.

One of the biggest pushes today for recognizing digital art as a celebrated art form comes from Jonathan Openshaw’s new book Postdigital Artisans. The book explores the effects of digital art and how it can fit in with traditional works.

“The virtual is no less real than the ‘real’ and the physical cannot be disentangled from the digital,” Openshaw explains in the pages. “More importantly, the mindset and aesthetics that came with digital technology are reshaping the material world around this.”

Essentially, Openshaw is not so much calling for a complete turn toward digital art as a better relationship between the two. He believes that a digital/physical relationship between the two art mediums will help to reshape the art world around us and produce a general shift in the traditional art collector’s mindset.

The Shift Toward Digital

Thanks to this eye-opening piece of literature as well as some other strong opinions on the matter, more and more collectors are beginning to move their mindsets to the digital world. More artists are also embracing the change.

For example, Steve Bloom has been working to produce the type of relationship between digital and physical that Openshaw spoke of. He pairs his unique talents in ancient printmaking with some contemporary digital processes to deliver his internationally renowned imagery.

In fact, his art is so renowned that he is one of the few artists that showcases his work that uses digital processes.

“A true pioneer of the digital art movement, Steve is one of the few to have his digital creations hanging in galleries,” reports a biography written by Park West Gallery.

Other popular artists who have been so fortunate to share their artwork in galleries include Maiko Takeda, Daniel Arsham, and Joan van der Wiel.

Neon Mob Plays a Factor 


However, in the future, it won’t only be celebrated artists like those mentioned above who have their digital art hung in prominent art collectors’ libraries. One new website called Neon Mob is making sure that art collectors of every caliber have the opportunity to not only create, but become compensated for the their art.

Neon Mob is a digital collectible’s platform that helps connect artists and art enthusiasts. Artists have the opportunity to publish series of digital illustrations that can be bought, sold, traded, shared, and displayed in every corner of the web.

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The interface of the website is really quite simple, and if you get confused at any point, there are simple instructions to follow. Basically, artists make the artwork on their computer, and then upload it into the system to begin selling and promoting it.

Each piece uploaded to the website is assigned a rarity and print distribution rating. These symbols are a copyright of sorts to help the artist keep track of their work.

Once the illustrations are made, it’s time to write a story, or at the very least, write a description and title of the work. In this field, a simple explanation of the piece probably isn’t enough. You’ll want to engross your audience with a story.

After the artist has put the final touches on your artwork and the story that accompanies it, they can publish and promote it. There are avid fans of Neon Mob already who will take a look at new pieces, but artists are encouraged to share their work through social media.

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The harder they work to promote their art, the faster artists get paid. Currently, the artist can keep up to 70 percent of their sales, depending on the package and their deal with Neon Mob.

This particular website is exactly what budding digital artists need to get their foot in the door and make a living off of this new art form. Though many collectors are still struggling with the idea of shifting their mindsets to the digital age, more and more are beginning to embrace the new concept and are looking to see stronger digital/physical relationships in the future.

Neon Mob 


Panel art

It’s not enough to turn the education system upside down: SOLE is about to enter a world many of us consider off-limits.

Contemporary art is often portrayed as an elitist world full of large canvases with coloured dots and hefty price tags, but Helen Burns believes it doesn’t have to be that way.

The SOLE Central research fellow has spent her career helping children and adults explore their creativity through contemporary art and now she’s applying all she’s learnt so far to a new exciting project.

Gallery in the Cloud will give school children and other gallery audiences the chance to become curators of their own contemporary art galleries. Supported by the SOLE method of learning collaboratively in groups, they will create digital artworks inspired by their own experiences that will reflect their own individual identities.

The resulting art collection will be self-curated, using cloud-based technology to create an ever-evolving gallery.

“It challenges the usual conventions of a gallery space and turns the concept of an ‘art world’ on its head, focussing instead on the ‘experience’ of art, which is accessible to everyone,’ says Helen.

This dented war robot (above) is from one of Helen’s previous art-based learning projects. The child who made it said it represented their experience of learning as ‘battered, but not giving up’

Helen is focussing initially on children at transitional periods in their education, such as SATs. “These are tough times for them,” she says. “A combination of the skills and resilience gained through creating contemporary art using SOLE could have a really positive effect on their ability to cope when they’ve got a lot to deal with.

“SOLE pedagogy and contemporary art actually have a lot in common as they can both be good vehicles for developing your own ‘voice’ and there are no wrong answers.”

The artists will be able to constantly revisit their artwork over several years, giving them the opportunity to expand and reflect on what they have already achieved.

As part of this initial development stage, Helen has been in discussion with the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead and Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, in Scotland’s Orkney Islands. She would also like to collect ideas, opinions and questions about the project from the School in the Cloud community to help take it forward.

We’ll be re-visiting this story on social media next year, but if you would like contact Helen in the meantime, she can be reached by email.

About Helen
After graduating from Glasgow School of Art, Helen spent 10 years working as an Artist Educator in school and community settings in Scotland and the North East.

Since completing a MA in Library and Information Management, she has worked in cultural and creative education for organisations such as the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Tyne and Wear Museums.

Formerly a Research Associate at Durham University, Helen is now a SOLE Central Research Fellow at Newcastle University, where she is bringing together SOLE pedagogy and arts-based learning practice. She also teaches art, craft and design on the University’s Primary PGCE course for trainee teachers.