We as IBEX Collectors often get asked: How do you decide which artists to invite to join your collection and community? The short answer is: It’s part art, part craft. We have a set of about 50 criteria that we consider, broken down across six categories, ranging from demographic, predictive, anticipated returns, technical proficiency, to painting ‘quality’ (a mix of conceptual value and depth, composition skills, feeling, etc.) and an additional factor derived from the opinion of each of the three IBEX Collectors.
There is no hard minimum on any of these criteria that painters must pass. An amazing but reclusive artist, for instance, may miss out on accolades she might well deserve, and we quite understand that and allow for it in our overall considerations. Each criteria is weighted based upon years of experience with the system and watching the performance of artists over time. We try to keep a ten year time-horizon in mind.
Taken together, the criteria serve as a checklist or a scan to decide whether or not to look further into an artist, to visit them, and possibly to invite them to join the IBEX Collection and Community, to work with us and their fellow artists that create on the same high level and in the same field as them.
The IBEX Rating that is calculated for each artist that we look at also serves as the primary consideration on whether or not we will collect that artist. Over the past six years, we have become more discerning in what we collect, as it has become clearer to us what we value and enjoy.
Since 2014, we have screened about 4,000 super-realist painters and we have visited more than 400 that we deemed interesting. To date, twenty have become IBEX Masters and enjoy the full financial and resource support of the Collection, and more than one-hundred others have had paintings collected. We regularly scan social media and/or discuss with our artists the progress of their careers to ensure that their personal IBEX Rating is as accurate and up-to-date as we can make it.
Our evaluation criteria roughly revolve around the questions “Does their work fall under super-realism? Is it of truly outstanding quality? Do we see growth potential and a growth mindset? Does their work have (future) market value? Do they match with us, can we see ourselves working together smoothly?
Here’s a slightly closer look at these criteria:
Domain – We look for artists that create contemporary, figurative, super-realist oil paintings and, very rarely, drawings or other media. “Contemporary” to us entails that the work should go further than the old masters in terms of technique, subject matter, or philosophy, and push the boundaries of this genre forward. We want art that has something to say in this period of time and have little interest in art that focuses on past debates or advances that have long been settled, such as the ideas put forward by the academic artists – an interesting debate for its time, but the debate is now finished and unless a new line giving it relevance to our times is taken, it holds little interest for us.
Every other field of human endeavor aims to exceed the best of the past and we do not believe that art should be an exception.
A distinction can arguably be made between super-realism and hyperrealism, and we’re not too fussy about it when it comes to selection (we’ll return to that in a future blog post). There’s also photorealism, heightened realism, and realism with a surreal touch, which we have also admitted into our collection. The key to us here is: rootedness in super-realism plus artistic depth.
Generally portraits or paintings of nude women (or men) without meaning beyond beauty are not of interest, as concept is very important to us. In no-way do we seek to say that any type or form of art has no value. We are building our collection focussed on the type of art that we enjoy and wish to share. We completely respect the fact that other people value different things.
Quality – The works should be of outstanding technical execution, in terms of materials, composition, processes, and techniques used. If an artist has ambitions to refine or expand their skill set, we obviously welcome that, but the pursuit of quality may also “simply” mean taking more time to apply existing skills to one’s work (the time/quality/money trade-off that we take care of for IBEX Masters and occasionally for other artists that we collect). The works should also possess artistic depth, an inherent philosophy in the treatment of the subject matter or one’s approach to the creative process.
Potential – We’re looking for a growth mindset, painters that have shown they enjoy doing research, studying and experimenting, whether through producing their own secret-formula primers, rendering 3D sculptures to be painted from, or collaborating across disciplines and industries. With the master painters that we consider, though, most growth is to be expected in the realm of their creative process, imagination, and philosophical depth and reasoning.
Marketability – We believe super-realism is a vibrant, contemporary art form that has a market destined to grow. The creation of high-quality super-realist work is extremely time-consuming and the required skill set is rare these days—two factors that drive up its cost and price. We therefore look for artists that are able or willing to effectively communicate with the art world about this unique art form through social media, interviews, documentaries, or welcome us taking the lead in that endeavor.
Compatibility – Do we match? Is there chemistry between us, the collectors, and the artists? We hope for a sense of ease, trust, and camaraderie between us that makes our collaboration smooth and agreeable, also with our support team of technical and communication specialists. However, selection by us is not a popularity contest. We respect every character and strive to build high-trust relationships. Doing fun stuff together often helps.
These are our criteria on the input side of our collection: the type of artists and the type of collaboration with us, collectors. On the output side of our collection, we are releasing glimpses of our artists’ works in progress on social media, and judging from the art world’s feedback so far, we seem to be on to something special…