In Western Europe, especially in the UK, and the United States, online galleries and marketplaces are opening one after the other, which, as mediators, step up as a new type of curators between buyers and consumers with the selling of artworks, art books and designer objects. As classic (pre-20th century) artworks and modern classics (artworks from the 20th century) have already found their places by now and they only change hands every once in a while (every 5-10-20 years), the market is compelled to value contemporary art that has a fresher approach, and put it in a broader context. From what’s new, usually the exotic, unknown yet capable of reacting to the processes of the modern world are of value.
That’s how trends that evoke interest towards the art of certain regions take shape, and that’s exactly the case with Central Eastern Europe. However, the well-tried approach from the West, namely buying art online is just as safe as buying household appliances online, has been reshaping the buying routine of Eastern Europe (buying art from galleries or studios) pretty slowly. It’s been changing though, and has a significant potential that hasn’t been covered by any Western online gallery yet.
ArtConscious – the talents of Central Eastern Europe on one marketplace
ArtConscious is aiming to react to this phenomenon. The website, and later the mobile application is an online art and design marketplace that wants to enter the global art market through London. The problem that the project is aiming at solving is the slow opening of the Central Eastern European art market towards digital business models and the English-speaking international commerce.
There is an explicit need for opening on both sides, however, it’s difficult to bring about change on an individual level. Through a niche player, however, that has a comprehensive picture of the region and can act as a mediator towards open-minded consumers can drastically open not only the dialogue but commerce between Eastern and Western Europe.
The name “ArtConscious” is built up from the English words “art” and “conscious.” The two expressions together denote the buyer, a target group of consumers of lifestyle or art products that are open to new things, the sometimes less known talents and opportunities that later can turn into the best investment. This target group understands and appreciates the value and role of art and design in society, and is aware of the reliability of the international online market. Thus, our choice of name is an identification of our target group, too. In the frames of the project, we have the opportunity to let the world know that the designers and artists of the region are present with all-relevant creations of international standards, and have added value for consumers from all around the world.
Current and potential trends in the art market
The online art market is developing pretty much the same way as the music industry did ten years ago. Thanks to the changes, music is now available for everyone online, and fortunately, we don’t have to convince anyone that these days even the less conscious, average consumer can safely purchase design or fashion products online.
Observing the data and trends of art e-commerce is relevant in terms of our future partners and consumers, too. (Art-related objects as art books, publications, luxury goods [clothes, jewellery], design objects can also be specified as art as these can often be marketed on the same platforms as artworks.) The market situation can be analysed based on the yearly research of the biggest art insurance and market research company (Hiscox Ltd.), which, by disclosing statistical differences, predicts future expectations for the area.
Based on the research of Hiscox, the value of the online art market was 63.8 billion dollars in 2015 with a value of 3.27 billion dollars for artworks purchased online, which is 24% higher than the value of transactions a year earlier. The value of the online art market is expected to reach 9.58 billion dollars by 2020.
Many of the online-only auction houses have doubled their sales in 2015. Traditional auction houses are increasingly successful online, too: Sotheby’s had a turnover of more than 100 million dollars from e-commerce only in 2016, while Christie’s reported an 11% increase in online transactions in 2015, valued at 36.4 million dollars.
It’s obvious that besides the new market players, the established ones don’t stay clear of e-commerce either, they actually perform better year by year with the help of it. This is a great example for consumers, too, establishing a common approach according to which buying artworks or design objects online, even in the millions, presents no risk in certain cases. In the light of researches, it can be said that more than 90% of online consumers of art are expected to spend the same or even more after a positive experience. Almost half of the Millennials that buy art use online platforms only, without visiting a gallery or store and seeing the artwork.
The 21st century is the era of mobile devices
It’s important to monitor who and how using what devices buys artworks. While in 2008 the average American spent 19 minutes a day on their mobile phone, this number jumped to 171 by 2015. The art market can’t avoid the trend of mobile devices either, and many art portals have adapted to the e-commerce world of applications.
45% of the online turnover of the auction house “Invaluable” were generated from mobile phones, while Artsy tripled the number of online purchases during the past years[ZB2] . The three most valuable artworks sold through Artsy were also purchased from mobile phones in 2015, which transactions include a 1.4-million-dollar purchase in the iPad application of Artsy between a London gallery and an art collector.
In terms of interest in art and design, the role of social media has completely changed, too. Almost half of the consumers decide about buying an artwork based on the influence of Facebook and Instagram content. 65% of consumers of artworks under 35 use Instagram for shopping-related purposes. It’s interesting to note that the motivation behind purchases are mainly emotional (92%), but in 2016 only, 57% of consumers invested with the purpose of acquiring a profit by reselling.
The fact that more than half of online consumers chose artworks from third-party websites is proof of the popularity of e-commerce marketplaces. The explanation to this, however, can be the various ways these sites advertise, contain more and easy-to-understand information about the partners, and, unlike average galleries with 5-10 partners, offer artworks from several artists and designers. 19% of first-time consumers of art purchased their first painting or print online, which, again, emphasises trust towards this type of shopping, and the importance of considering young consumers.
The team and partners of ArtConscious are inviting you a world full of excitement and challenges both users and sellers – a digital world that fundamentally changes the picture of the region and the representation of artists and important creative locations of Post-Soviet countries.