Online Art sales growing
Online sales of art are painting a pretty picture.
Despite a drop in global art-auction revenue in 2015, the latest period for which data are available, art sales made on the Internet rose about 24% that year, to $3.27 billion, according to the 2016 Hiscox Online Art Trade Report, researched by ArtTactic and funded by insurer Hiscox. Online buyers are purchasing more, but there’s still resistance—and opportunity—among the 51% of art buyers who shun the Internet market. Indeed, the report boosted its annual growth forecast to 24% from 19% previously, putting the online market at $9.58 billion in 2020.
Traditional auctioneers’ Websites get good marks, with Christie’s LIVE first and Sotheby’s BIDnow fourth, but strictly online outfits are also coming on strong: Artsy and Artnet were No. 2 and No. 3.
UGallery, an online art gallery based in San Francisco, has averaged 45% annual revenue growth since its launch 10 years ago. The average order value of the art sold grew from under $300 at its inception to $1,250 in 2016. UGallery accepts less than 5% of artist applications to appear on its site, and it makes purchases easy, with free shipping and returns, and a seven-day trial. Observes co-founder Alex Farkas: “Art is a basic component to being human. Original art has an energy to it.”
One of its artists, Iris Scott, was three years out of art school in 2009 and trying to launch a career while working as a nanny in Seattle. She moved to Taiwan, where she could live on $500 a month and paint all day. Initially, she sold her oil finger paintings on Facebook, but when she returned to the U.S., she was accepted at UGallery. She has sold some 500 paintings—95% of them online. Last year, she had $130,000 in sales at UGallery alone; one painting fetched $30,000. “Not all artists are starving,” she says. “The market is ripe for new artists. Virtually all new clients are seeded somewhere online.”
-- Barbara Haislip