Online Art Sales Reach $3.75 Billion in 2016

If you sell art online, you might be encouraged by some online art sales statistics reported in the 2017 Hiscox Online Art Trade Report. Hiscox is an international provider of specialized insurance to small businesses and property owners.

According to the Hiscox report, online art sales reached an estimated $3.75 billion in 2016, up 15 percent from 2015. This gives the online art market an 8.4 percent share of the overall art market (up from 7.4 percent in 2015).

The online art market is predicted to reach $9.14 billion by 2022.

“For those who say the online art market has had its day, it hasn’t even had it’s morning yet. It’s still waking up,” says Robert Read, head of art and private clients at Hiscox.

 

Cover art: Insecticide 13 by Mat Collishaw (photogravure etching, 2009), purchased through an online platform by Hiscox in 2017.

 

Key Findings

Most online sales are for works priced below $5,000. In the 2017 survey, 79 percent of online art buyers said they spend less than $5,000 per piece. This is up from 67 percent in 2015.

People who have purchased art online once continue to buy art online. About 65 percent of previous online art buyers purchased more than one artwork in 2016.

Fully 91 percent of online art buyers surveyed said the quality of art available is one of the most important elements in their decision to buy art online. They reject the notion that the online art market is a dumping ground for works that can’t be sold offline.

Some art lovers continue to be hesitant about buying art online. Some fear the physical art will look different from the online image. Or, buyers worry that the condition of the artwork might be different from what was anticipated.  About 73 percent of the hesitant buyers surveyed said they would like to speak to a human expert before making a decision to buy art online. Others would be interested in reviews and feedback from previous clients. Shipping options and return policies also matter.

Instagram has overtaken Facebook as the preferred social media platform for promoting and discovering art. Fifty-seven percent of art galleries said Instagram is the most effective in terms of raising awareness. About 35 percent of galleries said Instagram is driving direct sales, compared to only 7 percent of respondents who mentioned Facebook.

About $720 million in online art sales in 2016 came through online auctions by Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Heritage Auctions. This represents about 19 percent of online art sales.

For most traditional galleries, e-commerce isn’t  a major sales channel. About 59% said online purchases account for less than 5 percent of their sales. The 18 percent of galleries that derive most of the sales from direct online sales deal in collectibles such as watches, design, furniture, and photography.

About 49 percent of galleries who sell art online do so through a third-party e-commerce platform.

Some online art platforms (29 percent) have either established a brick-and-mortar gallery space or are thinking about doing so.

What’s Next?

The report predicts online auctions will become a key battlefield this year. Virtually every online art platform has started to offer an online auction services.

To help further grow the market, online art platforms will seek ways to build trust with current and potential buyers. Expect them to offer buyers more background information the artist and the object. They may also boost the educational experience by producing more informative and interesting content.

Methodology and More Information

The 2017 Hiscox Online Art Trade report is based on a survey of 758 art buyers from ArtTactic’s client mailing list and a survey of 132 galleries and dealers representing a wide range of art and collectibles. The report also includes insights from one-to-one interviews and online surveys of key staff at online art platforms.

In the free, downloadable report you can also find profiles and ranking of the Top 25 Online Art Platforms.

To further educate both art buyers and artists, Hiscox publishes informative posts on Online Art Market Insights.

 

Inkjet Printer Maker Asks ‘What Would Artists Do With Our New Printers?’

Digital printing technology has advanced so rapidly it’s hard to imagine everything the newest printers can be used for.

This is particularly true of “direct-to-substrate” flatbed printers that use UV-curable inks to print images on many types and thicknesses of rigid and flexible materials. Dye-sublimation printers are also amazingly versatile. With dye-sublimation printing, images can be permanently infused into polyester fabrics and polymer-coated metals, woods, ceramics, and plastics.

So how might artists and designers take advantage of these types of printers?

To help answer this question, Roland DGA invited artist and Roland-printer-user Bonny Pierce Lhotka to host a 3-day Imaginarium project at their headquarters in Irvine, California. Lhotka, author of the book ‘Hacking the Digital Print,’ helps creative professionals understand how photographic images can be manipulated and output or transferred to dozens of different surfaces. She has experimented with creative photo composition and printmaking techniques to create original mixed-media artworks on many surfaces beyond art papers and canvas.

During the Roland Imaginarium event, six artists, photographers, and multimedia designers made art with Roland VersaUV flatbed and roll-to-roll inkjet printers and Texart dye-sublimation printers. Jay Roberts, product manager for UV devices at Roland DGA, led a team of printing experts who helped the Imaginarium artists experiment with different processes, materials, and machines.

Ladies of the Night Book Box by Dorothy Krause
“Ladies of the Night” box printed on Roland VersaUV LEF-300 flatbed printer. Photo from Dorothy Simpson Krause

Artist Dorothy Simpson Krause came up with two imaginative projects: a limited edition art book in a decorated aluminum box and WarZone, a traveling board game.

Art Book

“Ladies of the Night” is a concertina book, meaning that the pages are printed in one continuous strip and folded like an accordion; the pages can be viewed without the need for book-binding adhesives.

For this project, a 9.5 x 57-inch print was folded to 12 pages (9.5 x 11.5 inches each). It was housed in a 10 x 12-in. aluminum box that was printed with an image from the book.

Pages from Ladies of the Night art book by Dorothy Krause

The pages featured digitally manipulated photographs Krause had taken in 2003 of twin performance artists Abigail and Emily Taylor for a series called “Body + Soul.” Text on the final page of the “Ladies of the Night” book provides statistics about prostitution in the United States.

“My project had several distinct challenges,” says Krause. “The ink needed to be as rich on the reverse as on the front and not soak into the uncoated back side. The prints had to be scored and folded into pages without having inks crack on the edges of folds. And the images on the back and front of the 57-inch long print had to be perfectly aligned.”

Art book printed on Roland Versa UV LEC printer cutter

Jay Roberts recommended ways to resolve these issues. The books was printed with Roland’s Eco-UV S ink on a VersaUV LEC printer/cutter which was designed for a range of flexible materials used in package printing.

The Eco-UV S ink is dense and flexible and was designed to shrink or stretch when wrapping vehicles.

For the “Ladies of the Night” book, the ink produced deep rich blacks on both the coated and uncoated surfaces of Roland’s Premium Matte Paper. And the ink didn’t crack when the pages were folded. A scoring machine was used to make indentations for folding the pages.

“The paper and ink were so heavy, it would have been difficult to score the pages by hand,” says Krause.

A Roland VersaUV LEF-300 flatbed printer was used to print the aluminum box in which the book would be housed. To replicate the look and feel of an embossed book cover, a layer of clear gloss ink was applied to the letters of the book title.

To prepare the image the cover image for the box, the white on the costume was selected in Photoshop, saved as a spot channel and designated to print as a 100% white base layer on the aluminum. After the image layer was printed, the clear gloss layer was applied, using a file that included only the letters of the image with the red omitted.

Before the box was printed, the edges were taped to keep them clean from overspray from the printer. An outline template was printed on the surface of the flatbed to ensure consistent placement as the layers were printed.

As an add-on to the book project, Krause used Roland’s Texart RT-640 Dye Sublimation printer to transfer six images from the book onto 11 x 14 –inch aluminum panels that had been painted white and treated with a polymer coating.

Dot Krause images printed on aluminum panels at Roland DGA

The images were first printed in reverse with dye-sub inks onto dye-sub-transfer paper. The image transfer occurred when the prints were subjected to a controlled amount of heat and pressure in a flatbed heat press.  During the heat transfer process, the inks became gases that permeated the coated surface of the metal. The print are very durable and scratch resistant and feel smooth to the touch.

“The white details of the costume are crisp and vibrant, while the underlying metals provides a glowing reflectivity,” said Krause.

War Zone: A Game Without Winners

“War Zone” is a traveling board game with no winners. The suitcase-like polystyrene box, game board, spinner, and “us” and “them” checker-like magnets were all printed on a Roland devices.

After printing an outline for the box on the surface of the UV VersaUV LEF 300  flatbed printer, the box a white layer was printed under the entire title, followed by a layer of gray and red. Ink. Two layers of gloss ink was printed over the “War Zone” title to provide an embossed-like effect.

The box was lined with contour-cut board printed with an image of the first atomic bomb blast and text about the nature of armed conflict and human aggression. A spinner board was contour cut and printed with a map that shows countries with ongoing military conflicts.

A checkerboard-like game board was printed on 9 x 12-inch matte board with the “rules of engagement” printed across the bottom. The “soldiers” are red and black magnets that were printed with white ink to read “us” or “them.”

War Zone game pieces printed on Roland VersaUV LEF-300

Other Projects at Imaginarium

In addition to Bonny Lhotka and Dorothy Krause, other artists at the 2017 Roland Imaginarium included Jake Welin, Ileana Frometa Grillo, Karin Schminke, and Seen Teegarden. They used Roland printers to transfer photos and multi-layered image compositions onto pre-painted and plaster-treated canvases, transparent films, film reels, birchwood, pre-cut wood panels, and other unique media.

In a blog post that showcases the work of the six artists, Ben Fellowes of Roland DGA writes, “It was a pleasure to watch this talented group of artists at work and eye-opening to see what they did with our printing technology. At Roland, we have always understood the potential of our machines as fine art tools.”

Roland Equipment

To learn more about how to use these printers for your own art or designs, find a print-service provider in area equipped with one of these printers.

The Roland VersaUV LEC series of UV printer/cutters was designed to print, contour cut, varnish, and emboss flexible substrates used to create bags, folding cartons, labels, and specialty graphics. This printer is available in 30-inch and 54-inch widths.

The Roland VersaUV LEF-300 Benchtop Flatbed printer can print directly on rigid and flexible materials up to 3.94 inches thick and up to 13 inches wide and 30 inches long. This printer is typically used to make promotional products, giftware, awards, smartphones, tablets, jewelry, and specialized signs.

The Roland Texart™ RT-640 dye-sublimation transfer printer can print high-quality images for transfer onto polyester fabrics or polymer-coated hard goods, such as metal panels, snowboards, plaques, and ceramic tiles.

Opportunities for Artists, Photographers, and Designers

Artists and print-service providers can both benefit from working together to envision new and exciting ways to push the boundaries of what’s possible.

Some artists, photographers, and designers are already benefitting from new printing technologies by creating and licensing designs that print-service providers can output onto print-on-demand products such as apparel, accessories, decorative art, tabletops, laminates, and fabrics.

You can also use new printing technologies to design and create your own branded lines of products for sale online or at art fairs.

According to Dorothy Krause, “Artists are becoming more and more aware of the advantages of flatbed printers, dye-sublimation printing, and contour cutting devices.” Printers that can use gloss, white, and metallic inks (such as Roland’s) are particularly versatile for creating interesting designs.

Inkjet printers today are being used for much more than printing photo enlargements or reproducing  artwork created in traditional media. Today’s inkjet printers can be used to create new products or original mixed-media art. Printed images and backgrounds can be combined with additional layers of inks, paints, varnishes, and special effects.

Bonny Lhotka created her Image Imaginarium workshops to give artists opportunities to take a hands-on approach to exploring new imaging technologies. The first Image Imaginarium was a pre-conference event at the 2016 Adobe MAX Conference for creative professionals. That workshop was based on techniques described in her book “Hacking the Digital Print.”

Online Art Gallery Celebrates Decade of Progress in Making Art Accessible

UGallery.comUGallery Art in Room, a curated online art gallery, is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The milestone marks a decade of devising new ways for buyers to shop for original artwork. Since its founding, UGallery has transformed the traditional art gallery into an accessible online experience by connecting buyers with one-of-a-kind artworks at price points lower than typically seen at brick-and-mortar galleries.

With roots as a business school project at the University of Arizona, UGallery initially served as an online outlet for student artists to sell their work.  When the site launched, it featured 25 works by 5 artists. Now, UGallery.com represents 500 emerging and mid-career artists from around the world.

“In the past, art was a black box – brick-and-mortar galleries were intimidating and there was little price transparency,” said co-founder and CEO Stephen Tanenbaum. “We launched UGallery with a mission to flip the art industry on its head and make original art accessible to everyone.”

UGallery operates much like a local gallery but has a global reach. UGallery has more than 2 million followers and sells art in 45 nations.

Curators choose the artists and works that will be featured, post detailed descriptions for each artwork, maintain individual relationships with artists, and host events for artists and clients. UGallery.com has offices in San Francisco and New York and a presence at art fairs. But they do most of their marketing online.

The company credits their service-oriented approach to e-commerce for their 40% year-over-year growth over the past three years. Art buyers get free shipping and returns. The artist ships the purchased art directly to the buyers in custom-built shipping boxes.

“We strive to be the premier online gallery,” said co-founder and Gallery Director Alex Farkas. “We focus a lot of energy on finding the most talented artists and connecting them with enthusiastic art buyers. Our mission is to develop lifelong relationships.”

 

Superfine! Art Fair Aims to Humanize the Art World

When art collectors, dealers, and gallerists come to Miami Art Week the first week of December, the Superfine! art fair will remind them that significant changes are underway in how art is discovered, experienced, and purchased.

superfinelogoSuperfine! The Fairest Fair is a Miami-based contemporary art fair that wants to humanize the art world by building a platform for the passionate people who create and showcase art. The ultimate goal of the Superfine! art fair is to deliver high-quality, accessibly priced artwork direct to collectors and collectors-to-be.

During Miami Art Week December 1-4, 2016, Superfine! art fair will feature several large-scale installation projects by local and international artists.

Air sculpture by Asser Saint-Val

For example, fair-goers who approach the main Superfine! space directly across from Art Miami’s main tent will be greeted by a massive, surreal air sculpture by Haitian-born, Miami-based artist Asser Saint-Val.  A 20 x 20 ft. helium-filled sculpture will float above a queen-sized bed equipped with headphones and scented with fragrances by the installation sponsor CARON Paris.

Within the Superfine! art space, photographic artist Mark Reamy from Vermont will invite attendees to shuffle, dance, and interact with their own shadows and those of other fair-goers via his “See You on the Other Side” multi-media installation.

Artist Tyler Whitlock of Asheville, NC will showcase politically charged and profanely relevant mixed-media paintings that use his patented “glitch-collage” style.

caw-superfineartfair2-whitlock

The Nice N’ Easy team of artists Jeffrey Noble and Allison Matherly are creating an immersive, environmental installation in the rear garden area of the facility. The “technicolor pastel picnic” will feature customized swing sets, a project mapped mural, and carefully chosen native plants. The immersive work will serve as both a functional seating area and nostalgia-driven backdrop for the fair’s programming, which includes educational panels, music, and social events.

A mobile art gallery housed in refurbished Shasta trailer will house a playfully dark and surreal micro-theater experience by artist Jen Clay.

The full list of exhibitors is posted on the Superfine! website.

Reaching collectors-to-be

The Superfine! art fair platform provides a space for artists, curators, and forward-thinking dealers to connect with emerging collectors who may feel excluded by more traditional art settings. The fair organizers believe “inspired, original artwork is an aesthetic necessity in the lives of everyone, not just a select few.”

Superfine! began in 2015 as a challenge to the art establishment. In the 60,000 square foot office building they refurbished in the Little Haiti district of Miami, they are creating an accessible means for galleries, artists, and designers to directly reach a targeted clientele within a dynamic setting.

Superfine! believes collectors are “the grease that makes the gears of the art world turn.” So they strive to give new collectors access to the best work out there.

In conjunction with Miami Art Week, Superfine! will host a Young Collectors’ Ice Cream Social on December 1 and a panel discussion entitled, “Sorry, I’m Not a Collector” on December 4. The panel will address the concerns of art-world outsiders who might want to become collectors and suggest actions that art establishments could take to attract the steady stream of new collectors they require to further the careers of their artists.

Superfine!’s year-round programming includes countless opportunities for emerging and established Miami collectors to connect with art throughout the year.  Their next big presentation is scheduled for President’s Day weekend in February.

Packlane Serves Creative Entrepreneurs Who Want Custom Packaging

If you sell your own branded products online, consider custom packaging. It can set you apart from competitors and make a big impression on your customers.

According to a 2016 eCommerce Packaging Study by Dotcom Distribution, the quality of your packaging can play a role in fostering customer loyalty. In their survey, 40 percent of the respondents said they would be more likely to purchase from an online retailer again if the product they ordered came in gift-like or premium package.

Thanks to companies such as Packlane, you no longer have to be a high-volume seller of products to afford great-looking packaging.

Packlane custom boxes

Whether you need a few small cartons or large printed shipping boxes, Packlane can help you create full-color, customized packaging that will get your customers excited about what’s inside.

In addition to ordering as few as 10 boxes, you can choose the graphics, the size and type of box, and the type of materials used.

When it’s time to re-order new boxes, you can adjust the design to include seasonal messaging or update your branding. You won’t risk being stuck with hundreds of boxes with outdated graphics.

Types of Boxes

Packlane offers three main styles of boxes: a classic carton, a mailer box, a shipping box. Each type can be sized to snugly fit your products. You won’t have to stuff a box that is too big with extra material to keep the contents from shifting around.

Types of Materials

When you place your order, you can choose to print the graphics printed on stocks ranging from thin, flat paperboard to thick corrugated graphics. You can specify whether you want your graphics printed on brown Kraft paper or a crisp white paper. The brown paper is fine for simple graphics with muted colors. The white paper is ideal for bright colors and designs that include images.

packlane_blue_v2

Design Tools

The website includes tools that make it easy for you to create and preview your design in 3 dimensions.

Or, you can request a 2D dieline for the box style and size you choose. A dieline is flattened outline of the box design that shows where the folds and cutlines will go. Just follow the Artwork Guidelines, and Packlane will take care of the rest.

For quantities from 10 to 2,000, you can get an instant quote. (If you need larger quantities, you can request a quote.)

Design Training

To help creative entrepreneurs get the best results from their packaging, Packlane has developed a free 36-minute Skillshare course: Packaging Design for Creatives and Entrepreneurs.

The video series discusses  box styles, design considerations, production and finishing techniques, dielines, RGB vs. CMYK color, how to use Illustrator, and tips for creating or uploading your design on the Packlane website.

Additional Insights

On the Packlane blog, you’ll find interviews with some of the entrepreneurs who have ordered boxes from Packlane. Michael Kushner, of Stefans Head explains why he is using custom-designed boxes to ship his company’s limited-edition T-shirts.

Another Packlane customer is a start-up that sends a curated selection of Paleo-friendly snacks to subscribers every month. He says, “A professional image is extremely important to start-ups. Custom packaging sets us up for success from the very beginning.”

The Packlane blog also contains tips such as How to Choose the Right Packaging for Your Product.

 

ARt: Augmented Reality to be Featured at Cyberarts Gallery

Although the world is abuzz about Pokémon GO, the first wildly popular game to use augmented reality (AR), artists have been creating AR art for years. To recognize some early adopters of AR technology, the Boston Cyberarts Gallery will present an exhibition entitled “ARt: Augmented Reality.”

The exhibition runs from September 17 through October 30, with an opening reception September 16.

Featured artists include: Joseph Farbrook, John Craig Freeman, Will Pappenheimer, and Zachary Brady.

AR Exhibit - Art-Cyberarts
“Drawing Constellations” by William Pappenheimer with Zachary Brady

Drawing Constellations by Will Pappenheimer, in collaboration with Zachary Brady, is an interactive drawing, installation, and app that uploads drawings to a constantly moving and evolving three-dimensional “constellation” situated outside the Gallery. Upon creating a drawing on a tablet, the user’s 3D drawing is then transferred into 3D augmented reality space, superimposed and sited at the gallery by GPS location.

Defending Virtual by Joseph Farbook is an AR-artwork in which a $100 bill rests on a traditional pedestal, inciting temptation. When viewed through a tablet screen, the bill is defended by a hand holding a gun and making threatening gestures at anyone who gets too close. As money is arbitrarily produced by governments, trade wildly on the stock exchange, and commoditized into debt, what does it currently represent? Both the value of money, and the defense of its value have become entirely virtual. Yet the consequences are often devastatingly real.

Green Street and AR, by John Craig Freeman is a site-specific AR art piece for smartphones and mobile devices. There are particular locations around the world where network activity has become so intense that the virtual world has begun to penetrate into the real world. Objects appear to replicate and float off into the sky. Entire buildings lose their mooring and drift away at the intersection of Green Street and AR.

About Boston Cyberarts

Boston Cyberarts is an umbrella organization for several ventures that focus on new and experimental media. George Fifeld founded it in 1999 with seed funding the Massachusetts Cultural Council. He defines “cyberart” as any artistic endeavor in which computer technology is used to expand artistic possibilities. In cyberart, the computer’s unique capabilities are integral elements of the creative process, in the same way that paint, photographic film, musical instruments, and other materials have always been used to express an artist’s vision.

In 2001, the Boston Cyberarts Festival presented one of the first Augmented Reality artworks in the world. Bruce Campbell from the Human Interface Technology Laboratory at the University of Washington showed his BCFlora, a simulator for plant structure created from a virtual plant genome in a Magic Book augmented reality environment.

During the 2011 Cyberarts Festival, Mark Skwarek placed an AR set of invading aliens throughout the Greenway Conservancy, around the Festival headquarters at Atlantic Wharf and across the channel to the Children’s Museum. Plus, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) hosted Manifest AR, an international group of AR artists who placed multiple AR art inside and outside the ICA.

The Boston Cyberarts Gallery supports experimentation in the arts through exhibitions, events, education, and collaboration with like-minded groups. The goal is to foster the development of new practices in contemporary art-making.

Located in the Green Street station on the MBTA’s Orange line in Jamaica Plain, the Boston Cyberarts Gallery is the only art space in the country located in a train station.

The ARt: Augmented Reality exhibition is free and open to the public.

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2011: See New Forms of Art at Cyberarts Festival

 

Electric Objects Wants Everyone to Display Digital Art

Electric Objects is a digital art platform that wants to put digital art on a wall in every home. The company’s first two initiatives include the development of the EO1 display and Art Club collections.

EO1

EO1 is an Internet-connected screen designed specifically for art. In addition to displaying high-resolution images and digitally created art, EO1 can play video and animations. Priced at $299, EO1 fits elegantly into any home.

The matte 1080p high-definition display features ultra-wide viewing angles and ambient light awareness.  It is not too bright and not too muted. The EO1 was designed to look more like a luminous oil painting than a glowing monitor.

Electric Objects Display
The EO1 display. Art by Folkert Gorter.

With the free iOS or Android app, you can use your smartphone to change the art on the wall. You can explore thousands of artwork shared by the Electric Objects community or browse the curated collection of original work in Electric Objects’ Art Club. Display any art in the app with the tap of a button.

Art Club

Art Club is a collection of hundreds of original works of art made exclusively for Electric Objects. Through the Art Club, Electric Objects supports artists interested in making work for display on the EO1.

In 2016, the Electric Objects Art Club Fund expects to spend $100,000 to commission new works of digital art. Artists are selected through periodic open calls for applications. Selected artists receive a commission of $500 and a free EO1.

Electric Objects Display
Display by Electric Objects. Art by Zolloc.

Electric Objects introduces new collections two or three times a week. They immediately invite EO1 owners to display the art in their homes.

Electric Objects has displayed the work of Art Club Artists at NADA Miami, the New Museum in New York City, and at the Electric Objects showroom in New York.

To learn about open calls, sign up for the Electric Objects artist newsletter.