Artist profile - Joseph J Walker
PUBLISHED: 00:00 21 November 2019
Social media is helping artist Joseph J Walker find a huge new market
Social media has transformed almost every aspect of life and it has revolutionised the art market. Instagram enables artists to showcase their work to a much larger audience than ever before and gives art buyers a global gallery to select from.
The online art market is predicted to be worth $9.32 billion by 2024 and Instagram has been called the 'world's most talked-about new art dealer', and it's not hard to see why it's causing such a stir. Avid art collector Leonardo Dicaprio bought a painting after spotting it on there and Jean-Michel Basquiat's portrait of Sugar Ray Robinson sold for $24k due to a single Instagram post.
'Instagram is proving to be a phenomenal game-changer,' says artist Joseph J Walker. 'It provides a totally new way to share and access art, and removes so many of the hurdles that have traditionally hindered both the buying and the selling of artworks.'
Since opening up to the opportunities afforded by Instagram, Joseph, who splits his time between the Ribble Valley and Cheshire, has achieved a substantial increase in sales and commission requests and, perhaps most notably, has significantly increased his reach.
'This is a really exciting time to be an artist,' he says. 'My clients have gone from being almost entirely based in North West England, to worldwide. America in particular feels like a key market for me; over half of my ten thousand Instagram followers are from the USA and a number of my paintings have now been sold and shipped to clients across the pond.'
Joseph is represented by esteemed contemporary art specialists Hansford & Sons, who are headquartered in London's Bloomsbury and who approached Joseph after seeing his art on Instagram.
Hansford & Sons Art Curator Georgia Aspinall, originally from Burnley, said: 'We have a pioneering ethos to both nurturing talent and to embracing the role, and power, of social media and the web in the art market. Instagram is integral to this.
'Hansford & Sons have an exceptionally high standard of artists and artworks and Instagram has made it much easier to both source and sell the very best. Joseph is one of our top new emerging artists and the majority of traffic to his sales page on our website comes as a direct result of us posting his artwork on our @emergingartistplatform Instagram page.'
But Joseph says that as much as Instagram has added a new dimension to the art marketplace, it hasn't replaced the traditional way of doing things.
'Art is a financial investment and a lot of people still prefer to see the physical painting and to meet the artist before purchasing,' he adds.
'One of the services I offer is to personally visit clients with a selection of artworks so they can meet me and see what the pieces look like in situ. If a client is buying art to hang in a specific location, it's important to make sure it marries well with the aesthetic of the space.'
Joseph's art is currently on the walls of Manchester's Malmaison Hotel and Aughton's two-Michelin starred Moor Hall, which was recently voted the UK's best restaurant. He describes his art as 'positive, uplifting, vibrant, and full of energy' and it's varied too.
He says: 'I love creating dynamic abstracts on big canvases and wooden boards - I'm challenging myself to go bigger and bigger. I'm a massive fan of resin and use it on a lot of my pieces as it produces the most incredible glass-like finish.
'But I also enjoy painting pastiches of famous artworks. One of my most popular works is a take on Van Gogh's 'Café Terrace at Night'. It's called 'Binge Drinkers' and is filled with funny little scenes of modern day life.
He was recently asked to create a version of an L.S. Lowry painting to help with the promotion of the Mrs Lowry & Son film. He re-imagined Lowry's 'The Rush Hour', creating a modern day social snapshot, with the scene set at night, the mills transformed into a nightclub and apartments, and the gloomy workers replaced with jubilant revellers.
'I've never laughed so much when painting a piece,' he says. 'It's been fantastic to bring so much joy and energy into the painting, while meticulously honouring Lowry's style. I'm not sure what he'd make of the modern day street scene, but hopefully it would make him smile.'