Art shop­ping that clicks

Los Angeles Times - - HOME & DESIGN - By Bon­nie McCarthy [email protected]­

Walk­ing into an art gallery can be in­tim­i­dat­ing for some — like we’re walk­ing into an op­por­tu­nity to show off how lit­tle we ac­tu­ally know about art. And yet, we still want to hang some­thing on our walls. A de­sire to avoid a po­ten­tially cringe-wor­thy mo­ment is help­ing to fuel the on­line mar­ket for orig­i­nal art, which saw global sales rise 15% in 2016 to $3.75 bil­lion. Thought­fully cu­rated, orig­i­nal art and lim­ited- or open-edi­tion prints show­cased in on­line gal­leries such as Saatchi Art, Tap­pan, U-Gallery and Pure Photo are suc­cess­fully bridg­ing a gap be­tween emerg­ing artists and as­pir­ing col­lec­tors by cre­at­ing ac­cess to tal­ent while sidestep­ping high-end, bricks-and-mor­tar gal­leries.

In fact, shop­ping on­line is pretty much the ex­act op­po­site ex­pe­ri­ence, said Rebecca Wil­son, chief cu­ra­tor for “I think our cus­tomer is some­one who wasn’t go­ing to phys­i­cal gal­leries,” added Alex Farkas, gallery direc­tor for, “whether be­cause of ge­og­ra­phy or a cer­tain level of in­tim­i­da­tion that can ex­ist in the phys­i­cal gallery realm.”

For Los An­ge­les home style ex­pert Emily Hen­der­son, au­thor of “Styled,” it was lim­ited time, money and a de­sire for young, con­tem­po­rary art­work that in­spired her foray into on­line art buy­ing sev­eral years ago.

“I had been buy­ing art at f lea mar­kets, but I wasn’t get­ting any­thing con­tem­po­rary,” said Hen­der­son. “I felt like my house was full of vin­tage land­scapes, seascapes and ab­stract paint­ings from the ’60s … pretty, but it wasn’t feel­ing mod­ern enough.”

She found pho­tog­ra­phy and draw­ings on­line, and a con­tem­po­rary art col­lec­tor was born.

But you don’t have to be a de­sign ex­pert to nav­i­gate the on­line art world.

Search f il­ters usu­ally in­clude size, medium, style, sub­ject, lo­ca­tion, artist and price; and most sites of­fer a chance to read about each artist and browse cu­rated, themed presentations aimed at as­sist­ing in the jour­ney of dis­cov­ery.

Some on­line gal­leries such as SaatchiArt and UGallery of­fer com­pli­men­tary art ad­vi­sory ser­vices by email and phone to pro­vide a per­sonal touch.

Orig­i­nal works of art are de­liv­ered with a signed cer­tifi­cate of au­then­ti­ca­tion, and most gal­leries can pro­vide a list of pre­ferred ven­dors for in­stal­la­tion or fram­ing upon re­quest. Does this mean the end of wine and cheese gallery open­ings? “No, not at all,” said Chelsea Nas­sid, co-founder of Tap­pan. “I think it’s a beau­ti­ful ex­pe­ri­ence, and im­por­tant for peo­ple to see work in per­son… I think that the on­line spa­ces are go­ing to work hand in hand with the ex­ist­ing gal­leries mov­ing for­ward.”

In fact, UGallery re­cently part­nered with Crate & Bar­rel to be­come the re­tailer’s f irst provider of orig­i­nal art, and sales have ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions, Farkas said. He thinks part of the suc­cess can be at­trib­uted to so­cial me­dia.

“Whether it’s Face­book or Snapchat… I think peo­ple want to be able to show­case some­thing that’s unique … and I think that’s re­ally driv­ing a lot of in­ter­est in orig­i­nal art. Art has al­ways been a way for us to ex­press our­selves per­son­ally and to de­scribe the world around us.”


“CON­TACT” by Dar­iusz Labuzek, $1,180, at


“HEY!?” by Jonas Fisch, $4,470, at


UNTITLED COL­LAGE by Mit­suko Brooks, $1,280, at


“UNTITLED I” by Gia Cop­pola, $250, at Tap­pan col­lec­


“IN HER GOLDEN CHAIR” by Scott Dykema, $4,325, at


“LUCKY #6,” lim­ited edi­tion print by Jin-Woo Pensena, $2,070, at


“WEDGE #4” by Brant Rit­ter, $850, at Tap­pan­col­lec­tive .com.

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