Jonas Wood’s Shelf Still Life, 2018, is one of the artworks than Artsy users have to option to click … [+]
Jonas Wood, Shelf Still Life, 2018 (Image Courtesy of Archeus_Post-Modern)
This year is on track be another record-breaker for online spending and mobile shopping. Mike Steib, CEO of Artsy, says those online spenders are reaching for their phones not just to buy clothes or groceries, but to buy works of fine art, some costing six figures or more.
Steib became the CEO of Artsy, in June. Artsy is a digital app and website (Artsy.net) that enables galleries and auction houses to connect with potential buyers online. For some works on Artsy, users have the option to click to “buy now” or “make a bid” instantly from the mobile app or website. The company also is beta-testing an option to allow art collectors to offer pieces for sale on the site, on consignment, with gallery partnerships.
Artsy this fall released The Online Art Collector Report 2019, based on a survey of its users. The survey found that art buyers shop, and purchase online, for many of the same reasons they buy anything online – speed, convenience, and the ability to browse hundreds of items on their phone, while sitting at home, or in the back of a taxi or Uber.
“People are buying their cars online, people are buying their homes online, people are buying high six-figure art online,” Steib said. “And it turns out that there is not just comfort with the channel, but it’s the preferred channel.”
The report also found that online buyers don’t like it when the price of an artwork isn’t listed, and that more price transparency leads to more sales.
Artsy gives galleries and artists the right to keep the price hidden until contacted by a buyer. But it has found that those artists and galleries that make prices visible, and that give buyers the option to click and buy, will sell at up to six times the rate of those that don’t, Steib said.
The Artsy app recommends artworks based on previous searches and purchases, and allows users to … [+]
Courtesy of Artsy
The Online Art Collector Report, based on responses from 5,807 registered Artsy users, 3,993 of which buy art regularly, had these additional findings:
- While the majority of online buyers – 61% – spend $5,000 or less on art annually, and purchased one to two artworks, both online and offline, those budgets are expected to grow as millennial and Gen Z buyers reach their peak earning years.
- Nearly two-thirds of buyers identified as collectors said they had purchased art online.
- One-third of those surveyed said they had increased the percentage of their art budget that they spent online.
- One-fifth of online buyers said they spend 75% or more of their art budget online. 15.9% said they spend 50-74% online.
- One-quarter (26%) of online art collectors said they had purchased art through Instagram and other social networks.
- Sixty percent of collectors said they use Instagram and social networks to discover works of art.
- Nearly half – 49% – of new art buyers said they find buying online to be less intimidating than buying from a gallery.
The online art market reached $6 billion in 2018, or 9% of global art sales, up 11% from the previous year, according to the 2019 Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report. A UBS and Art Economics survey found that 4% of high-net-worth art collectors had spent $1 million or more on an online art purchase.
The goal of Artsy, Steib said, is to connect more people to more works of art. Bringing more people into the art world as collectors helps more artists make a living, and helps the galleries and auction houses that represent them, he said.
It also helps Artsy, which is seeking to grow its revenues by adding more direct sales on its site, in addition to the subscription fees galleries and auction houses pay to be part of the platform.
Artsy doesn’t reveal its revenues, but the company says it has seen 58% year-over-year growth in the volume of sales conducted through the platform. Artsy draws 2.2 million users a month, according to the company.
Artsy’s report notes that it is not the only online marketplace for fine art. The top galleries and auction houses have been creating their own online platforms, with buy now options. Competitors such as Artnet,com, Saatchiart.com and Paddle8.com also offer collectors the ability to bid or buy online.
Mike Steib, new CEO of Artsy, says his goal, and the company’s, is to connect many more people to … [+]
Courtesy of Artsy
Steib comes to Artsy with valuable experience in connecting sellers with a community of interested buyers. He led the XO Group, Inc., the parent company of the wedding services platform, The Knot, as president and CEO for five years, until its sale to private equity firms and merger with WeddingWire Inc. last year.
Steib is credited with helping The Knot grow from a media and information site to a two-sided marketplace, and tripling the value of that business.
While Artsy currently doesn’t have gift or wedding registries for fine art, Steib said he wouldn’t rule out having them in the future.
“One of the things that is missing from our product is more social connections among collectors,” Steib said. “Today we do a great job of connecting people to the art and to the galleries and auction houses. But to actually help people share with each other what they like and what they wish for? I think that would be really cool,” he said.
This painting, by Louise Bourgeois, Untitled, 2005, is one of the works of art featured in the Artsy … [+]
(Image Courtesy of Cheim & Read)
Mike Steib CEO of Artsy