How do artist’s sell their work now? The traditional business model of galleries has been well and truly disrupted; first by the internet, and then the phenomenon of social media. Instagram in particular has allowed artists to connect with collectors directly. Having had a very mixed experience selling art via traditional galleries, I have always been open to bypassing them.
Over the years I have seen a number of online alternatives come and go. I had reasonable success selling art via New Blood Art, but chose to concentrate instead on real world galleries. An unhappy experience with one particular gallery, and then the global pandemic completely disrupting my art practice, has prompted me to look again at available online platforms.
Above are my profile pages for Saatchi Art (above) and Singulart (at top). I selected these two platforms as they fulfilled my two main criteria: scale and reach. There are plenty of smaller players out there, but in an increasingly contested market, I wanted to place my art with a platform that I am confident can promote it to a sufficiently large audience.
The process of creating profiles on each platform is very different. Singulart is a curated platform. Although I can choose which artwork to upload, they wrote my bio from details I sent them, which is then handily translated into eight languages. From browsing the available artworks, the general standard seems to be quite high. Although both sites are neatly designed, I much prefer the aesthetics on Singulart, and I do like how you can arrange your work in separate galleries.
Saatchi Art, on the other hand, is a complete free-for-all. Although good established artists do use the site, as it is a monster with a huge reach, they have to share the site with anyone who chooses to upload their work. There’s absolutely no editorial control. This crowded space makes it impossible to get noticed unless their editorial teams feature you, and that is the main reason artists give up on it. I will give it a go for a few months, but I suspect that even with a healthy social media presence, it will still be difficult to leverage that to get enough traffic to my profile to get noticed.
Before I finish, I should dispel the myth that online art platforms charge a lower percentage to the artist. Saatchi Art has a more complicated pricing structure: 30% commission plus a variable shipping charge (depending on size of artwork). Singulart takes a 50% commission from the sale price, but pays for shipping from its cut. In the end, Saatchi ends up slightly cheaper for the artist to sell, but then the artist will have to work that much harder to generate sales.
I shall add an update after a few months, to give my verdict on how well these sites have worked for me. Here are links to each of my artist profiles: