Art shopping that clicks
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 SaatchiArt.com. “I think our customer is someone who wasn’t going to physical galleries,” added Alex Farkas, gallery director for UGallery.com, “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 SaatchiArt.com.
“HEY!?” by Jonas Fisch, $4,470, at SaatchiArt.com.
UNTITLED COLLAGE by Mitsuko Brooks, $1,280, at SaatchiArt.com.
“UNTITLED I” by Gia Coppola, $250, at Tappan collective.com.
“IN HER GOLDEN CHAIR” by Scott Dykema, $4,325, at UGallery.com.
“LUCKY #6,” limited edition print by Jin-Woo Pensena, $2,070, at SaatchiArt.com.
“WEDGE #4” by Brant Ritter, $850, at Tappancollective .com.