For the longest time, art found a home only in the galleries and museums of the world. That, and the private collections of connoisseurs. But with e-commerce gaining wider acceptance all over, the world of art has undergone a sea change along with it.
No longer is art meant only for a select few. In fact, it has never been more accessible. Instagram is the new gallery. Art from every corner is only a click away. And artists are more approachable than ever. Here’s a look at some of the ways in which artists and art lovers are leveraging the power of e-commerce.
Art, now more accessible than ever
Online Galleries and Auction Houses
From the biggest names in the business to brand new ones, having an online presence is now a must for galleries and auction houses. With data showing that more and more people are discovering new art online –millennials being the trendsetters – it just makes business sense to be where the next generation of art lovers and buyers are. In fact, a lot of new-age galleries and auction houses have ditched the traditional brick-and-mortar model and have chosen to go the online-only way.
The beauty of e-commerce is that it can offer even an individual artist the means to sell her work to art lovers all over the world. Artists can now set up their own online stores within a matter of days (or even hours!). The reason why some of them prefer going down this route rather thanpartnering an online platform is because of the degree of freedom that comes with it. Not only can artists control the look, feel and features of the store but also work as per their schedules rather than third-party considerations. However, the flipside is that in case of such stores, artists themselves have to look into the proper functioning of the website as well as devise promotional and marketing activities – things which might not be every artist’s cup of tea.
As far as social media goes, Instagram has taken over the mantle from Facebook and Twitter of being the go-to platform for discovering new art. This has allowed artists an effective way of using it as a sales channel. A lot of them have taken to revealing the first look of their latest work on Instagram. This not only creates the much needed initial buzz but also catches the eye of potential buyers who can message the artist directly on the platform and finalise a deal right away.
But challenges remain…
The question of physical inspection
One of the biggest factors that drive consumers away from e-commerce is the lack of physical inspection before purchasing a product. For some, this step is simply non-negotiable. And the same applies to art too. Considering the fact that quality art calls for significant investment, a lot of people might feel uncomfortable about spending on an artwork they haven’t seen for real yet. Questions like ‘What if it looks different from how it is on the website?’ or ‘What if it doesn’t feel right when I finally have it in front of me?’ are here to stay. What artists and art-based e-commerce enterprises can do to alleviate such worries is ensure that customers get what they see. Having ahassle-free return policy also goes a long way in allaying the fears of concerned buyers.
Presentation is, well, everything
In the absence of physical inspection, what really matters when it’s about convincing the consumer is how you present the artwork. No matter how good the work of art, a poor quality preview photo might put it out of consideration for good. Similarly, insufficient information about the artist, a cluttered inventory as well as incorrect taggingand categorisation of the artwork just makes matters worse.
So much for accessibility. What about affordability?
While e-commerce in general has taken care of discovery or accessibility when it comes to art, the question of affordability still remains. Quality art calls for a significant initial investment. On top of that, a lot of buyers have concerns about growing out of a piece of art as time passes and tastes evolve and then be stuck with it. For such consumers, the subscription model holds a lot of promise. With the focus on experiencing multiple works of art over a period of time by paying a small recurring subscription amount, art lovers can be freed from the burden of ownership and just focus on experiencing works of art that they love – no bulk investment involved.
While the legacy art establishments are gradually warming up to e-commerce and reaching out to more art lovers and enthusiasts, innovations like the subscription model are opening art up to a whole new audience set. Sounds like a win-win for art. And that’s great news.
The article has been penned down by Rahul Singh Yadav, Co-founder of Floating Canvas Company.