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The Phenomenon and Collection Perspective of Gen Y and Z

Art consultant Matthew Shieh and THE CLUB, Tokyo Taiwan representative Sophie Wang shared their unique insights in the current art market. They analyzed the phenomena that have occurred in the art market from the past three years, and their personal opinions as professional art collectors. At the beginning of the lecture, the definition of Gen Y and Gen Z was introduced. Gen Y: Generation Y, also known as Millennials, generally refers to people born between 1981 and 1996; GEN Z: Generation Z, digital native (Digital Native) , born in the digital generation, has been on the Internet. The source of information now travels very fast, but the privacy is low, all online information and behaviors are recorded.  GEN Z are a group of people who pursue speed but lack loyalty in information. People who were born after 2012 are called Generation Alpha. 

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Behavior between the ages of 20 and 40 will be the main discussion for this lecture, starting from the talking about the phenomenon of KOL and art collectors, they usually have the priority to select the high level art works, which include American contemporary art. THE CLUB, Tokyo Taiwan representative Sophie Wang shared that she discovered in recent years that Gen Z collectors are particularly concerned about the number of artists’ Instagram followers. This data has become an important indicator for young collectors to evaluate.  Matthew Shieh also added that in the Chinese market, the art industry will compare the rate of the artist's follower numbers every year, which is the biggest characteristic after the rise of the internet generation.

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"Phenomenal Observation : NFT v.s Ultra Con (Ultra -  Contemporary) ”

Ultra Con is mainly talking about the artists born in 1974, more contemporary, closer to the current generation, and are the iconic artists of the new generation. Bored Ape Yacht Club, the most representative of the NFTs, has accumulated a total turnover of one billion US dollars and a total turnover of more than 300,000 ETHs. Recently, the NFT 'Phanta Bear' issued by Jay Chou, a great collector of Bored Ape in Taiwan, has accumulated 22,000 ETH trading volume, there is a lot of hot money in this industry, and it is a hot topic we are now discussing. Matthew Shieh said: " Traffic, Community, and Exposure" are very important in the NFT market, but the NFT cycle is too short, and the popularity is less than one month. In addition, according to the world's largest NFT transaction platform OpenSea, more than 70% of NFTs have less than 3 transactions, which means that each project only creates one market transaction. Such transaction extends that the value paid (consumer price) is not proportional to the service content in the community, which means that the admission tickets for the NFT community at this stage are too expensive; For example, a maximum of 8,000 physical creations can be created in a lifetime. For comparison, NFT can create works that far exceed the physical creation. What the company investors care more about on NFTs are traffic, popularity and money. 

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"Can everyone become an expert consultant in the art industry after mastering the online data? " 

When the online information is open and transparent, various art platforms can provide accessible, easy to read data on the websites. Matthew Shieh shares the data provided by Art Market Monitor, which can track which art works are traded in the primary market at a more than 10~30 time turnover rate. Matthew Shieh said that once a friend asked him, " If you can sort out all the online market data, you can now become an expert consultant in the art circle? What do you think about this?" Sophie Wang then replied that it depends on the aspect of what these platforms want to provide the consumers. She believes that online data can only be used as a reference and it does now cover the whole aspect. The most important element in the primary art market is the foundation, what affects an artist includes slowly stacking price on a piece of art works and the price is far more important than overnight popularity.

Furthermore, he also believes that we can closely pay attention to how each gallery views the artist from different aspects, through the exhibition design and the new given value to the artist, when the commercial value is added to the artistic value, the overall performance will be complete.  Matthew Shieh believes that auction data does not represent everything, the short term transaction price of an artist's works, which will affect investors confidence is more important. The future development of the artists is the key to long term investment. 

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"Overseas galleries are opening more pop-ups after post-epidemic era"

In the past five years, the performance of the primary and secondary art market in the Asia market has been outstanding, which has allowed overseas international galleries to enter the Asia art market, including Hong Kong gallery Perrotin and VSF gallery from South Korea. At the beginning of the year, during the Freeze Seoul Art Fair, three Asia galleries also entered Seoul, and three pop-ups entered Taiwan from last year. This year, Sophie Wang brought The Club, Tokyo into Taiwan's market for exposure, when the epidemic hit,  The Club, Tokyo was thinking about how to readjust and adapt, they found out that the epidemic in Taiwan was under control, and they chose to Pop-Up in Taiwan. The reason they choose Taiwan is they believe the collectors are full of vitality and highly accept the Japanese artists. The most important reason, the owner of The Club, Tokyo, likes Taiwan very much.

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"Rules of the new generation: Buy 1, Donate 1, picking up and queuing"

Many new rules have appeared in the art market. When you want to collect the works from the top artists, the gallery will set many requirements, for example, you may be asked to Buy 1, Donate 1 (If you buy one work, you will need to donate another work to the designated art gallery or art museum). Or you will be asked to buy five artworks prior to buying the one you specified.  Sophie Wang said that she has met the situation of " Buy 1, Donate 1" before, if she liked the artist very much and wanted to support her/him, she is willing to give it a try. Recently, a young collector kept donating young artist's work to a museum in Miami. She felt like it was like washing the collector's resume, but he is willing to follow the rules, so there is no conflict. What is the key in this game is whether you like this artist very much, otherwise it will be meaningless. 


Matthew Shieh then explained why this rule has occurred: when an artwork has a huge price difference between the primary market and the auction market, the news and social media will spread a lot of news on the price of this artwork has doubled which led to the introduction of the term "Hot Money" for the people to purchase the artwork in a very high price without knowing the actual artist. The term "Hype" then emerged, which previously we use this term to describe the people who played with cars and watches to show their status. Recently, due to the "Hype" phenomenon, especially describing a group of people who especially like to sweep a large amount at once, cause the illusion of out-of-stock phenomenon and they are willing to please the gallery inorder to purchase more artworks. Therefore, in order to protect the artists, the gallery began to sign a 3-5years contract to ban resale , hoping the collectors truly support all the artists and art galleries. My way of collecting art is to make discussions with the art galleries about which artworks I want to buy within a year, therefore we can follow this direction on collecting art in a professional manner.

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"As a professional art collector, it's important to find your own direction"

Matthew Shieh: Now the primary art market is very crowded, and the secondary market is very hard to enter. Lots of art works from 2019 - 2020 are put up for auctions. As a gallery staff, what do you (Sophia Wang) think about this? 


Sophia Wang: I think this is very dangerous to the longevity of the artist. The works that came out of the studio in 2019, and I already saw this work in the autumn auction. I think it goes back to the way the gallery arranges the artist's work, and if the gallery keeps making mistakes, I would question the professionalism of the gallery. It is very important to return to the primary market. Artists have exhibitions, exposure, recognition, and communication. People should see the artwork in person and not only through the internet. 


Matthew Shieh: I also believe that time or the so-called capitalist mechanism will stabilize prices and make these very "Hype" art works subside a bit.

As a collector, in such a crowded market, have you made any adjustment on the way to collecting art? 


Sophia Wang: I think the biggest adjustment is for the artist to keep making new developments for their career path. I keep looking back from a macro perspective. In fact, Mesozoic artists have been creating stably for 20 or 30 years, their collectors are also very stable, what is most important for young artists is to have a healthy mental mind set. 

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To conclude , to be an art collector is a very professional consumption behavior. It’s not only just pure purchases, you have to do research before purchasing, finding the right artworks and how you manage this work needs to be carefully considered in many different aspects. We can also adjust our mentality. You should also pay attention to what you have and what you don't have. Do your research! The journey of this artist is also a part of yourself, and it is possible to find other young artists in the future.


If you can’t buy artist A, there may be an artist B in the future who got inspired by artist A. It is also great to collect the works of artist B. Finally, I would like to talk with you about the foreign galleries doing pop-ups and new expansions. There are actually many VR virtual exhibition rooms. For example, the exhibition "V Chapter 1" in Lightwell. These exhibitions were stored on cloud databases in the future, these exhibitions will not only be photos, but 3D files that will be kept forever. You can access and feel the atmosphere of the exhibition at any time, I think this is a big trend in the future. 

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| ONE ART Taipei 2022 Art Forum |

ONE ART Taipei 2022 held three art forums at the beginning of the year, focusing on the global art market, new generation of art collection and the value of NFT. We specially invited 《Cans Contemporary Art News》Editor in Chief Nai-Ming Zheng together with independent curator Emerson Wang to discuss the topic on Has the epidemic made the art industry crazy? —— Let’s view the perspective of the art industry regarding epidemic and art ecology. Well known young collector Matthew Shieh and Sophie Wang to discuss the topics on The phenomenon and collection perspective of Gen Y and Z. At least, we invite  Neil Lee, the co-founder of Echo X and Kelvin Chung, the partner lawyer of KPMG to have a conversation on the Creation of NFT value, Virtual Reality Integration.

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