These 3 Startups Make Buying Art Less Intimidating
Let me start by saying that I don’t know how to choose art, at least in the traditional sense of going to a studio or a gallery and buying a work. Most of the artwork on my walls is from travel or garage sales, except for this watercolor I painted that was bold enough to be framed. Scanning my apartment, I realize that I love the laid-back look of everything, which is the exact opposite of what “mainstream” (read: expensive) art has always felt to me: intimidating and unapproachable.
I know I am not alone. A friend of the family recently built her own house, and the last time I visited she was saving many walls until the right part arrived (although I think in her case it wasn’t). was not a question of intimidation but rather of not knowing where to look). Either way, the process of buying art for a home can be complicated and filled with questions: What kind of art do I like? How do you choose from a sea of talent? where is it even goes?
The art world has long been defined by elitism, but in recent years a wave of startups has shaken things up with new business models and innovative ways to sell art online. Gone are the days of stuffy auctions and long waiting lists. No need to chat with the gallery owners either. Today more than ever, art is becoming more accessible and affordable.
Here, we’ve chosen three companies that source and sell their wares in surprising ways. May they help you find the one piece that resonates.
The platform was born in May 2020 with a seemingly simple goal: to create an online destination to buy art and demystify art buying in the process. “The idea for Platform comes from the fact that art should meet the rest of the world where it is,” says Bettina Huang, founder and CEO of Platform. “People don’t need to network to be on a waiting list. Typical practices don’t make sense for younger audiences.
Each month, a limited number of approximately 100 works are published on the site. All are drawn from an ever-growing collection of galleries from across the United States and selected with input from world-renowned gallery David Zwirner. Jobs are available for a limited time before a new listing arrives early next month. The idea is to provide a highly curated and constantly evolving collection on the site. Huang compares it to Net-a-Porter, the luxury fashion retailer: “Everything is really good and carefully selected,” she says. “If we had a huge, less edited site, it wouldn’t create the same trusted experience.”
The average price is $5,000, but jobs vary between $1,000 and $35,000. “We’re looking for artists who have a lot of credibility and are at an inflection point in their careers,” Huang said, noting that this could mean training at a prestigious art school or having a solid background in art. ‘exposure.
You do not know where to start ? Huang recommends consulting Eliza Douglas, whom she calls “a cultural figure who crosses all boundaries of gender identity,” graffiti artist Katsu, and Isaac Tin Wei Lin, an artist whose work references science and algorithms. .
On average, more than 95% of works of art held in museums and galleries are hidden in warehouses. Galleries are limited in size and there is only a limited amount of work they can show within the duration of an exhibition. Born in 2019, Parlor’s goal is to support art galleries by making more art available online, and to make it accessible to a wider clientele by offering rentals. “Today, if I want to buy a car, I will rent one first,” says Julian Siegelmann, founder and CEO of Parlor. “There are so many ways to try something before you can buy it, and that’s where the idea for this product came from.”
Parlor currently has around 400 works with the price spread across four different tiers. For art priced under $2,500, you’ll pay $50 per month. For works priced between $2,500 and $10,000, you will pay $100 per month, and so on. The cheapest art is around $1,000 (so you’d pay it off in 20 months, if you decided to keep it). The most expensive is around $65,000; it would take 18 years to pay it off, at $300 a month. Parlor shares monthly revenue with the galleries and handles framing, delivery, installation and insurance costs. Galleries choose to pay their artists on a monthly basis or at the end of the rental period, although Siegelmann says it’s usually the latter.
Renting a work of art has many advantages. To begin with, you’re not attached to it, so if you end up changing your mind, you can give it back. But for Siegelmann, it is above all a way to help people finance their purchase and invest in quality art at an affordable price. He says 60% of Parlor customers end up buying the rooms they rent.
“The audience is not people looking to rent and trade,” he says. “For furniture and clothing, it’s a very utilitarian thing, but for art, it’s such an emotional purchase that rent is an easier way to have a return policy.”
You do not know where to start ? Siegelmann recommends works by Ricardo Gonzalez, Marjolijn de Wit and Ragnar Kjartansson.
When AucArt launched in December 2017, it was the first online auction house in the world to feature the works of recent graduates. Since then, the company has shifted to a hybrid model where people can buy direct or bid like an auction. (If you choose to buy direct, you won’t have to pay a buyer’s premium, an additional fee usually charged based on the final price.)
“When I started, I wanted to democratize the art world and give everyone the opportunity to create incredible cutting-edge collections and own some of the biggest names,” says Natasha Arselan, Founder and CEO of AucArt.
AucArt has expanded to include emerging artists who have had solo shows or participated in exhibitions, but approximately 25% to 30% of artists remain recent graduates. The company sells directly from artists’ studios, helping them cut out the middleman and sell the art sooner, and at a slightly lower price. If you see an artist you like but want something made especially for you, AucArt can also help you order the artist.
The gallery features around 180 artists and around 1,000 works, ranging in price from $200 to just under $20,000. Like Parlor and Platform, AucArt lists all prices on its website. “The art world was super opaque before it went online,” says Arselan.
You do not know where to start ? Arselan recommends David Dias, Camille Cottier and Marlene Dumas. “[Cottier and Dumas] are very emotional. . . they’re about connection and there’s something very naïve about them that I love,” she says.
The more you look, the more examples you’ll find of new ways to buy art. London-based startup Gertrude lets you rent works by emerging and established artists. For 50 pounds (about $65) a month, you can live off a painting by Paula Rego, which recently had its own exhibition at the Tate Britain gallery in London. Later Editions charges artists to produce limited edition prints for as little as $369. And because it’s 2022, when everything can be bought online, you can shop all these pieces without ever leaving your couch. You can even visualize what they would look like in your home, thanks to Platform’s built-in technology or the Artsy app.
Now no more excuses – go find something special for that blank wall!