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How does an online art gallery work

How does an online art gallery work

Traditional and conservative art market has no chance of escaping — slowly but surely it is moving online. Step by step and cautiously art sales are happening on the web and I can assure you — it  will definitely grow.

Now if you are an art collector or just thinking about buying art online, or if you are an artist looking for online channels to promote and sell your work, you might be wondering how do online galleries operate.

First of all, we need to define different types of websites selling art and I would classify them as follows:

  1. art sales platforms for artists (curated and not curated);
  2. art sales platforms for galleries;
  3. traditional galleries using e-commerce solutions;
  4. galleries that operate online only;
  5. galleries that sell online and organise pop-up exhibitions.

The major differences between online and brick and mortar galleries are:

  • you can not see an artwork physically before buying it;
  • online art galleries charge lower commission than traditional galleries;
  • online galleries don’t host exhibition openings and parties :);
  • you don’t have much of a personal connection with gallerists or artist when you buy online.

Now let’s discuss each type more detail.

1. Art sales platforms for artists.

These are large platforms where artists can upload and sell their work directly to collectors.

The largest online platform for artists in terms of uploaded artworks and monthly visitors is saatchiart.com.

When an artist sells an artwork on saathiart.com, the company takes care of the transaction and the delivery. The artist has to pack the work, handle it to a courier and when the buyer receives an artwork, the artist receives a payment with a deducted commission.

Other platforms for artists might have different models, for example, creatives might have to pack and ship artworks themselves.

If you are an artist, you can download a list of places where you can sell your art by clicking this link.

2. Art sales platforms for galleries.

Collectors will find art that is more or less curated, because all artworks placed in these virtual art spaces are already selected by galleries. The largest platform for galleries is artsy.net, they charge galleries a monthly fee and offer number of tools to promote galleries, artworks and artist’s it represents.

But there are platforms for galleries that operate in different way and charge commission, just as platforms for artists. For example, I prefer to sell art on artsper.com. I believe companies are more motivated to generate a traffic of good target audience when they are earning money from commission, so I am happy to share the profits. Also, there is more chances that  the artworks will be discovered in smaller platforms like Artsper, because there is less competition and they target audience better.

3. Traditional galleries that use e-commerce solutions.

Basically it is a traditional gallery that has a space in the city and also has a website with integrated e-commerce solution, or putting it in simple words — they are placing photos and description of artworks on their website and there is a “buy” button next to it, so collectors can make an orders online.

These galleries do host exhibitions and do lot’s of other promotional work as well art promotion online. I must say that I am amazed that there are not so many galleries that operate like this and do not use e-commerce on their websites to generate sales. I assume it is because the art world is still not comfortable on displaying prices. So most often instead of a “buy” button you will see the “ask for a price”.

4. Galleries that operate online only.

These galleries do not have a physical space and curate the art that is sold on their websites. What differs them from art platforms for galleries — they do not accept other galleries, but have their own team that selects artists and promote their work online. Probably the best known gallery that operates like this ugallery.com.

These galleries usually take a smaller commission, some may also take a fixed monthly or annual fee.

5. Galleries that sell online and organise pop-up exhibitions.

This is my favourite type, because that is exactly how my boutique artgoda.com is operating!

I believe that art events are great for publicity and generating contacts, but I decided not to have a physical space and use the resources to promote the my artists and their art online, because it allows to reach a much wider audience.

So I have my own online gallery which offers carefully curated art, I do use several art sales platforms and am organising several pop-up exhibitions in Zurich during the year.

Thinking about starting selling art online? Here is a list of website where you can sell your art available for download.

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