Artists are benefiting from the current boom in online art sales. Smart e-marketing is making it possible for artists to bypass the traditional gallery system and make a living from day one.
In the first quarter of 2015, Australia’s highest ranking original art site, Bluethumb, has seen sales increase by 78 percent year-on-year suggesting buyers are now feeling confident to buy art directly from artists through online platforms.
Abstract artist Annette Spinks, one of Bluethumb’s top sellers, agrees with the figures: “Many are surprised that people buy art over the internet, without having seen it in the flesh. I’m finding more and more are enjoying browsing online galleries.”
Consumer habits are changing and TEFAF’s annual Art Market Report shows that we increasingly trust e-commerce to make bigger purchases. Globally, online art sales have increased 20 percent from €2.5 billion to €3.3 billion in the last year, growing their total share of the market by one percent. The majority of these sales are being made in the middle-market range of US$1,000 – US$50,000.
Thanks to this change, Annette Spinks has turned her passion into a decent living. “Because of my online sales, I have been able to set up my own studio and gallery and work as a full-time artist.” Annette sells her art through her own site and Bluethumb. “Bluethumb has given me national exposure and the opportunity to sell my art all over Australia.”
Australian sketch artist CJ Hendry is currently leading the ingenious e-marketing pack. She draws black and white photorealistic luxury goods showing her creative process on her Instagram account. For her latest show, 50 foods in 50 days, she set herself a strict deadline of one finished piece a day giving her followers a reason to visit her account regularly. She currently has over 211 thousand followers and all her work is sold before it is even finished with buyers including the likes of Kanye West. Not bad for a young emerging artist.
Bluethumb have adopted a similar strategy on Instagram with their #100DaysOfArtists campaign. Curator and Content Manager Janni Fewster explains, “Each day we share one contemporary Australian artist who uses Instagram. It doesn’t matter if they sell on Bluethumb or not. Our aim is to promote and showcase Aussie creativity. The industry in Australia is thriving and we’re very supportive of each other. When we give artists a shout out, they will hopefully give us one back and when they do they’re not only supporting Bluethumb and our artists, but all the other artists we’ve featured. It’s good for everybody.”
Over the last year Bluethumb have concentrated their efforts into effective content marketing. Their strategy uses all the important social media platforms, regularly sharing content from their blog along with artists’ work, events, art industry news and inspirations. They have grown their email list by offering a free e-book, Becoming An Art Collector, on sign up and by switching to use Sendicate, an emailing marketing app that is leading the industry in design and useful data.
“If your emails look great, people want to read them. Sendicate’s simplicity and beautiful templates allow us to send out curations that showcase our art in the best possible light on any screen”, says Janni. “The artworks we send out in our newsletters often sell within a few days.”
Perhaps the most surprising thing Bluethumb has found is that people are buying expensive artworks on their smartphones. Apple featured the Bluethumb – art unearthed app as ‘New and Noteworthy’ in 2014 and since then over 22 percent of Bluethumb’s sales have been through the app. In January, Mobile Commerce Daily reported the average in-app spend is currently around $5. This makes Bluethumb’s in-app sales remarkable considering the average artwork sale price is over $400.
TEFAF’s 2015 report summarises these findings: “The internet has revolutionised communications in the art sector. In particular the e-commerce of art objects has also gained significant momentum, creating increased convenience, efficiency and accessibility for both buyers and sellers, with much greater speed of transactions and wider global reach.”
Good news for artists and online galleries.