Art eCommerce Marketing Online art

Online art sales: democratizing art

You may have visited some art galleries on a Sundays but maybe have not seen the shift from offline to online art sales. We’re in 2019, the era of the everything-digital. And it is also applied to the art world. If you need more information to understand what’s going on in this opaque Art sphere and want to discover new trends and online art sales platforms, this article is for you.


A shift from offline to online

Sold for 91,1 million dollars on May, 14th, Jeff Koon’s famous “Rabbit” has shocked quite a few people that still don’t understand what’s going on in this crazy world. Let me introduce you to the art world in 2019.


jeff koons rabbit

Jeff Koon’s Rabbit 

Understanding the art world

The art market, like any market, allows individuals or businesses to make profits by trading goods: this is called capitalism. In the case of art, it does not operate on basic necessities but on products that are superfluous at first glance.

There are many actors in the art market, the artist, that produces paintings, installations, photography and other types of works.

The museums that acquire artworks for temporary or permanent exhibitions. Their goal is not to make a profit by selling artworks but by selling entrance tickets. They are most of the time, financed by government’s subventions.

Then, there’s the art gallery, which is representing one or more artists and has the goal to sell their artworks in different art fairs and inside the art gallery.

Regarding the art fairs, they are places where buyers come and select the artworks from the artists that art galleries are representing in their booth.

But if the buyer doesn’t have a strong knowledge, they often need the services of art advisors, who have a deep understanding of the art trends, and giving buyers professional advice on the prices and much more information.

To finish, there’s the auctions houses, those who are selling 91,1 million dollar’s rabbits to, most of the time, rich buyers raising their hand to offer a higher amount.

I totally advise you to watch this controversial Netflix documentary Blurred Lines: Inside the Art World. You will understand deeply how it works, and honestly, it’s fun to watch.  


blurred lines inside the art world

Blurred Lines: Inside the Art World


The rise of the online art market

Hiscox reports that “the online art market was growing around 20-25% between 2013 and 2015 (comparable with growth rates observed in the online luxury goods industry)”. In 2018,  “the estimated aggregate online sales figure of $4.64 billion shows an increase of 9.8% from 2017”. 

Hiscox also reports that “based on this growth trajectory, we could expect the online art market to be worth $9.32 billion by 2024”. Great news, isn’t it?


hiscox online art

Source: Hiscox – Online Art Trade Report 2019


Of course, many art platforms appeared these last years. In February 2018, Sotheby’s (one of the biggest auction houses) acquired, an online market place for vintage furniture and decorative objects. In June 2018, Gagosian (which represents Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons predecessor) launched its temporary, online salesroom.


gagosian salesroom

Online Salesroom – 


Even Justin Bieber’s manager invested in Ikonick, an art platform that targets millennial collectors. And then suddenly, everyone wants to acquire digital art platforms. Even Walmart announced its plan to acquire

But, the game is not reserved only to giants in this industry. Some new players arrived to change the rules. Discover the best independent online art platforms.

Why are online art platforms needed?

Most of the time, selling artworks is an offline process, involving professional networks, one-to-one meetings, visiting art fairs… but it is time-consuming. The other issue is that art galleries usually have small places to showcase their artists’ artworks and huge stocks of artworks.

On the consumer side, the Art World can be very intimidating for some. You maybe want to buy an art piece but you don’t have a strong knowledge, you are afraid to look like someone who doesn’t understand Arts. There’s also, the price. Yes, most of the time art galleries do not show their price. And yes, you don’t want to have to escape this awkward moment when the galleries announce the 50,000 dollars while you’d thought it would be maybe 1,000 dollars.

This is when online art platforms are saving your life. Because you don’t want to leave your walls, white and you don’t want to abandon the idea of creating your own art collection.


selling art online

Source: Artwork Archive


The art democratization

As I was explaining to you, it may be hard to buy your first artwork or even just to talk about it in an art gallery. Buying online facilitates everything. Of course, the first thing I would talk about is the price of the artworks.


average price online art sales

Source: Hiscox – Online Art Trade Report 2019


A majority of online art sales are made for artworks under 10,000 dollars. It shows two things: the first one is the interest for people to buy artworks for a reasonable price. Art galleries often propose artworks for a high price and it’s not affordable for many people. The second thing is that people are afraid to spend too much online. We see this trend in luxury as well. Buying a t-shirt online is simple but buying a 50,000 dollars watch or bag online is another thing.

Online art platforms also propose their prices, and it’s easier for consumers to have an idea of what’s possible to buy.

At the same time, online art platforms like Artsy are proposing to discover more artists, as well as to learn and educate yourself about the different art trends. You can take your time to consider the artists you like the most, and compare the prices.

The young generation is digital native. It means that innovation and buying online is part of their daily life. It’s easier for them to buy their first artwork online while walking in an art gallery is maybe another affair. Selling online allows art galleries to target a new type of consumer and young buyers.

On the other side, art galleries can most of the time add all their artworks stocks on the platforms. Allowing them to showcase not just a little part of their collection but the entire one.


artsy app


Even if selling online is not the main source of revenue for big art galleries, it allows them to stay updated in a constantly innovative world. Small art galleries can increase their revenue by showcasing a larger amount of artworks and buyers, or new consumers can definitely cross the barrier of buying art, by taking time to watch and compare prices, while not being afraid of this mystique world.



Source: Artsy App