The sale of works of art has so far been primarily an offline business. But start-ups and artists see the network more and more as an opportunity to create a mainstay and reach the whole world online.
Art fairs all over the world are a tradition that brings together artists and collectors. Before the internet, artists rely on trade and art fairs to sell their works of art. But in this modern world, the internet has opened doors for artists to sell their art and communicate with many collectors worldwide.
The market is small but creative
Customers from the internet, through social media and video sharing sites like YouTube, turned over 2.5 billion euros in 2013, writes the report of the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF), which examines the global art market once a year. Even if many artists have invested a little on applications to boost their profile (such as the purchase of cheap youtube views and facebook ads), the outcome had been great in terms of customers and sales.
What sounds like a large amount of money has so far been equivalent to only about five percent of the worldwide sale of art and antiques. The so-called first sales are often fresh works that come to new lovers. So far, art prints and photographs have mainly been added. But something is changing here, the analysts write. And many young, web-savvy artists have a part in this.
“For me, the network is a stroke of luck,” says Stefanie Schairer. Since she’s been there, almost ten years now, its importance is growing more and more. The Berlin artist is active in several artist networks, uses social media and, of course, sells her works via online portals. “But,” she continues, “you shouldn’t expect it to go quickly. I put up a page and then I start selling? No, the net is like a seed that needs to sprout, you need patience.”
“A website is like a catalog on the Internet,” adds wood sculptor Nora Leschinski. She works far from the bubbling art scene in a capital in the Thuringian province. The network also plays a crucial role here. “I spend several hours online every day,” she says. “The network allows me to live a secluded, natural life.” And yet almost everyone around the world has access to their work display of small sculptures, graphics and pictures.
Art sold online is rarely expensive, but the market is changing
In general, the art world today understands better that the Internet is a platform that simplifies the sale of art many times over, says Marius Sowka. His Copenhagen start-up Artworkheroes focuses on an inexpensive and charitable niche. It offers high-quality prints, not only on paper but also on bags and clothing. “Each purchase not only brings income to the artist but also supports small, certified charities,” says Sowka. “That’s why we call our artists ArtworkHeroes, they are heroes who not only beautify the world but also make them a little bit better with their donations.”
Art needs the net, but cannot do without offline
Regardless of whether the works of art on the net are expensive or not. The market will grow, that’s what the analysts of the TEFAF report assume. At least a quarter of a year should go up, in 2020 a turnover of ten billion euros is possible. This number includes online sales of auction houses as well as classic art sellers and providers who specialize exclusively in online trading. With a new, younger generation of collectors and those interested in art, prices beyond a few hundred euros and other styles, such as sculptures or large paintings, came into focus.