Barco Schools CEDIA Community on Niche Marketing: Embrace Art Lovers

With 4K ‘digital art canvases,’ Barco brings faithful reproductions to the art world, and shows A/V integrators how to engage with wealthy individuals in niche markets.


Of all the people who might enjoy a premium video experience, art lovers might be one of the biggest untapped markets. Barco, a leading provider of video projectors and displays for commercial cinemas, high-end home theaters and digital signage, wants to corner that market with 4K “digital art canvases.”

At the recent CEDIA Business Xchange, Barco Residential general manager Tim Sinnaeve explained the opportunities in the art world. The global art market, he says, amounts to nearly $63 billion annually. More than half that market (57%) is for artwork valued at over $1 million.

“More money is being spent on art than on luxury cars,” Sinnaeve says, urging home-technology specialists who target high-net-worth individuals to get involved in the arts.

“The kind of relationships I have now would have taken me years of time and millions of dollars.”

— Tim Sinnaeve, Barco Residential

After all, who enjoys a richer visual experience (and is willing to pay for it) than an art collector?

And yet, there’s a disconnect between the art world and the A/V world. Imagine the individual who wants to cycle through a digital Van Gogh collection, or project a perfectly rendered Klein Blue on the walls. Where do they go for that?

They would go to a dealer of high-performance video solutions who knows how to calibrate a display.

Integrators today target film buffs who demand to watch movies “as the director intended,” Sinnaeve notes. These customers invest in high-performance home theaters. Art lovers, too, want to view works “as the artist intended.” They should be just as captive a market as movie lovers.

“The CEDIA channel is uniquely placed to take this on,” Sinnaeve told an audience of more than 100 A/V specialists at the Xchange.

Next Big Art Thing: ‘New Media’

The opportunity in the art world has never been greater for A/V integrators, especially with a movement toward “new media art” comprising computer graphics, animations, virtual reality, interactivity and all other forms of “new media.”

Barco highlighted at ISE 2017 a selection of products perfectly suited for this genre, including the new Wodan 4K video projector, as well as flexible direct-LED sheets that can serve as a “digital media canvas.”

Recently, Barco built a direct-LED “canvas” for an installation at the world-famous Art Basel event in Miami:

Barco Residential with Bitforms Gallery at Art Basel Miami featuring renowned artist Rafael Lozano- Hemmer's Bilateral Time Slicer 2016 on our custom Direct LED digital canvas, highlighting our innovative approach to enabling unique new media art experiences in private residences. In the foreground you can see Rafael's unique work Au Clair De La Lune 2016.

“People were amazed,” says Sinnaeve, contrasting the experience with other digital artwork shown at galleries and museums: “We’ll see really expensive new media art on a flat panel from Best Buy.”

Not only will new display technologies like Barco’s enable beautiful art renderings, they will enhance “artistic freedom” and inspire new types of art forms, Sinnaeve believes.

The displays are “especially powerful even in ambient light,” he says. In the case of video projectors, they can be installed at “extreme offsets, which opens up all kinds of opportunities from an architectural perspective. To me, it’s all about the architecture.”

A/V Opportunities in the Art World

There’s a bigger story here than simply targeting the art world and selling them great video experiences. It’s about finding a niche where your story will resonate.

By throwing himself into the art world, Sinnaeve has gained wisdom and connections (and renewed appreciation for art) in very short order.

“The kind of relationships I have now,” he says, “would have taken me years of time and millions of dollars.”

He has grand visions for Barco, imagining the most discerning of individuals declaring, “I have a Barco” as they would “I have an Aston Martin.”

Now Barco Residential is taking the opportunity to dealers, with plans to create packages geared towards art lovers. The company has teamed with start-up Niio, which offers a platform for managing, distributing and displaying new digital art forms.

Niio is working with artists, galleries and private collectors to make their works available to a broader market of both enthusiasts and elite collectors.

Meanwhile, Barco continues to create more awareness in the art community for both its products and its dealer partners.

It’s working, Sinnaeve says: “The art world is paying attention.”

And now they need a “reliable technology partner” to create digital canvases, speak intelligently with designers, and integrate digital art with other home-technology systems.

Together, Sinnaeve says, Barco and partners can “connect the dots that no one has really connected before.”

About the Author

Julie Jacobson
Julie Jacobson:

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson