Industry voices: Daniela Bianco Duppen

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  1. Hi Daniela, it’s a pleasure to have a conversation with you. Could you describe to us your activities in the artistic community, as an art dealer, and art advisor?

Thank you for inviting me to be part of your platform with this interview. I am a London-based art advisor. I work directly with clients on sourcing and selling artworks. I am also curating an exhibition of photography that will open in June. I am very excited about this online show as it’s from a major photographer from my home country: Italy.     

Daniela working on her podcast series "Secrets of the Art Business", courtesy of the author.
  1. As an art dealer, would you say that the key in such a role is to build a brand image of yourself, and with that comes clients, or is there more emphasis on individual client prospecting?

I try to be prepared and ready with my research and in-depth information for each client’s project. I do not think dealers are brands. They are more ‘taste makers’ sometimes depending on if they represent artists and have a gallery to show them. Some dealers don’t have that exposure. When you advise a client, it has to come from a position of trust and commitment. It should be a long-term relationship that you are trying to establish. It takes too much time, energy, and effort to continuously try and find new clients. The most sustainable strategy is to have fewer but deeper relationships. 

  1. Would you say that social media helps artists get noticed, find projects, or is social media too overwhelming and original individuals get lost in the crowd?

Social media, if used correctly, are an excellent visual platform to get noticed, sometimes ‘discovered’ or to create awareness about your profile. I believe these are incredible tools, and they need to be used carefully and with a purpose, a strategy even better. I do not believe in leaving it to chance, so if you are carefully building your image on social media it takes time, effort, and perseverance. There are no shortcuts. 

4.The NFT market has allowed artists to make transactions into their own hands. For a profession such as gallerists, art dealers, or auction houses, will NFTs exclude them from the art market? 

I don’t think the NFT market will take over galleries or art dealers or auction houses anytime soon -  it will be a parallel market for a while until it develops more and more… Also collectors feel more comfortable with acquiring digital art. Major auction houses already took a dip into the NFT world and are also accepting cryptocurrencies recently. Galleries organized NFT and also the online-only digital art exhibition, for example, German art dealer Johann Koenig is a definite trailblazer here with his innovative marketing strategies for galleries and to keep the audience of young collectors engaged. Most of the collectors I talked to about NFT and the potential are still sceptical to invest and instead rely on the traditional ways of buying art, especially during this time. You also need to be comfortable dealing with cryptocurrencies and know that their value is very volatile so your artwork can quickly decrease in value because of the fluctuation in the currencies. These are all things to take into consideration. I find the NFT interesting in terms of resale of artworks…maybe in that sense the dealer will be skipped and the NFT will be the trading platform for reselling the artwork with greater transparency. I have been watching a few drops of artworks as I wanted to invest myself into NFT, and some of them do not resell that quickly in the auction-buy now online sales, so you need to be careful in what you are buying if you are thinking of reselling it quickly. 

  1.  The shift towards virtual art has awakened discussion about the next upheaval in the marketplace. The re-evaluation in many spheres such as ownership, physicality, and the idea itself occurred. It turns out that, to a large extent, we have begun to talk about selling the idea, not the work itself. Would you say that the market is changing its focus and values at this point, or is art, in a sense staying in the same place? Is it possible to think about these two things separately, the artwork and delivery of it?

I think that for most artworks, what you sell is always the idea, the vision, the potential, and then the physical piece. The context surrounding an artwork, the history, and provenance all contribute to what sometimes it is described as ‘aura’. Each artwork has its own little story and what matters is how you connect with it. To answer your latter question, I do not think that idea and work can be separated, they are intrinsically linked together. 

  1. Is the artist nowadays becoming a brand in himself/herself? There is a discussion about building up one's image, social media profile. On the other hand, we hear about staying true to oneself and showing the truth in the media. Can such statements also be put into the context of art? Is it possible to say, what is more, successful for you as a brand, creating the perfect image or going beyond artificial space?

I believe that artists can become powerful communicators through their art and persona. Social media is only a medium to promote their ideas to a wider audience. The most successful artists are the ones that show themselves fully in the media and do not hide behind a character. They use socials to strengthen their message and make sure people fully understand it without any filter. I love when artists develop great IG accounts or Twitter or Facebook as I love following their life, stories, and inspiration. If you use social media to try and show a perfect image of yourself or your art, that will come across as ‘too perfect’ and, hence not authentic. I also believe that you should keep things interesting on social and your audience engaged with curated content that is not repetitive. Otherwise, why should people keep following you if you always deliver the same? If you are not naturally inclined to share then social media can become a chore or, even worse, a form of pressure to succeed (having lots of followers equals more influence, right?). Many websites and marketing tools for artists suggest making a plan, a schedule and let it run on its own so that you do not need to spend too much time on it and instead focus on what matters: creating and making art. 

Written by
Jagienka Parteka