How social media is disrupting the art world

  • Social media has made art a sustainable career choice, said Malaysian artist Red Hong Yi, who is famous for creating portraits of Chinese personalities using everyday objects.

Creating art, once regarded as an economically challenging profession, is now a sustainable career choice thanks to social media, according to Malaysian artist Red Hong Yi.

Budding and professional artists can now represent, market and brand themselves on Facebook, Instagram and Alphabet's YouTube instead of relying on agents and physical gallery spaces, Hong told CNBC on the sidelines of Credit Suisse's annual Asian Investment Conference.

In recent years, Hong has gained fame for creating portraits of well-known personalities such as Yao Ming and Jackie Chan using everyday objects — think teabags, food and chopsticks.

In the past, artists fought for exhibition space and profits as galleries typically kept 50 percent of sales from a purchase, she said. It was "a lot more difficult" to survive on art back then, she continued.

Now, artists can reach broader audiences and engage with potential customers directly on social media channels, she said, pointing to famous artists Takashi Murakami and Damien Hirst as examples.