Study Reveals People Believe Buying Art Is Intimidating and Expensive

UGalleryLogoA new study conducted by Toluna Research Group on behalf of the online art gallery UGallery reveals that nearly 70 percent of people have never purchased artwork for their home. Almost 50 percent of these people cite cost as the barrier.

Key findings from the study include:

  • It’s Too Exclusive. 67 percent have never purchased art, underscoring the perceived barriers to art access.
  • It’s Too Expensive. 48 percent cite cost as the primary obstacle to buying art.
  • It’s Too Intimidating. 20 percent found buying art from a gallery to be the most intimidating shopping experience of all, more so than shopping for real estate or a car.

When asked what would make them comfortable buying art, 36 percent said an “easy, money-back return policy,” 30 percent want to better understand the background of the artist, and 25 percent cite a “virtual way to look at the art on their walls.”


Millennials, the ‘touchscreen generation,’ were understandably more inclined to browse online, as they prefer online sites for all shopping experiences, as opposed to the traditional in-person sale. Per the data, 30 percent seek virtual methods for experiencing art before committing to a purchase. They were also four times more likely to buy art online.

These factors may explain the growth of online art galleries. According to to the Deloitte and ArtTactic “2013 Art and Finance Report,” online art is booming, with over 300 web-based art ventures having launched in recent years. According to the Hiscox 2013 Online Art Trade Report, “At least 71 percent of art collectors have now purchased artwork online.”

“Many people think art – particularly original art – is prohibitively expensive because they hear about the multi-million dollar auction results or get blinded by the number of zeros on the wall of their local galleries,” said Stephen Tanenbaum, President and co-founder of UGallery. “Online galleries have the ability to offer a wide range of artwork and prices, with original art that’s actually affordable.”

UGallery is a curated online art gallery that sells original, one-of-a-kind artworks from emerging and mid-career artists. Founders Stephen Tanenbaum, Alex Farkas, and Greg Rosborough came together in 2006 to create a revolutionary approach to online art sales that democratizes the entire art buying process. Clients can browse the collection by price, medium, style, size, color, or artist and give any piece a week-long test run in their home risk-free.



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Gallery Specializes in Original Paintings Priced Under $500

ARTISTS. A new online gallery called Fifty Artists, is catering to art lovers who would love to support artists but are turned off by high-end gallery prices. Fifty Artists specializes in offering affordably priced one-of-a-kind originals

fiftyartistslogo“Early on, the team talked a lot about our own experiences buying art,” said co-founder Jason Kallas. “Our adventures ranged from awful encounters to celebrated interactions. These impressions shaped our belief that buying original paintings is harder than it needs to be. At Fifty Artists, we believe there is a large gap between how traditional galleries are marketing their artists and the reality of current shopping trends.”

Jason Kallis and his partner Gail Kallis believe that most galleries lack the capabilities to promote their artists and sell artwork online. This in turn makes it hard for potential customers to find artists they love and can afford.

Fifty Artists exhibits paintings and illustrations inspired by a range of art movements. They do not sell prints or reproductions.

“Everything is original and under $500. This has broad appeal no matter the size of your wallet,” commented Jason. “Rather than compromising on quality, we opted to sell smaller works.”

"Snow Day Driving" is a 12 x 12 inch oil on canvas painting by Chin H. Shin
“Snow Day Driving” is a 12 x 12 inch oil on canvas painting by Chin H. Shin

Jason and Gail believe “smalls” are fantastic for a lot of reasons.

“Small paintings are perfect for the newbie seeking their first original piece as well as the seasoned collector,” said Gail Kallis. “Smaller works are more about personal enjoyment versus a monetary investment.” Buying smaller works also removes the pressure of finding a single, great piece. Small artwork fits into tight spaces, can be purchased online, and travels easily.

Smaller, original paintings are perfect for commemorating special occasions and make extraordinary gifts.

"Red cross" is a 22.5 x 30-inch oil and cold-wax painting by Karen Darling.
“Red cross” is a 22.5 x 30-inch oil and cold-wax painting by Karen Darling.

“We chose the name “Fifty Artists” because that’s who we want to represent. We want to promote fifty talented artists and thought the number fifty personified other positive characteristics,” Gail added. “To us, Fifty Artists says we take pride in who we represent and that the collection is curated. The number also indicates there will be spectrum of styles, but as a customer, you’re not going to be overwhelmed.”

"Today's Weather" is a 14 x 14 inch watercolor and ink painting by Marsha Boston.
“Today’s Weather” is a 14 x 14 inch watercolor and ink painting by Marsha Boston.

The Fifty Artists website includes abstracts, cityscapes, portraits, and a variety of other subjects.

Artists seeking representation through FiftyArtists are encouraged to apply online.


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Artspan Removes Sales Commission from Member Websites

ArtspanLogoArtspan is both a provider of easy-to-maintain artist websites and an online destination for buyers of contemporary art. Founded in 1999 by painter and entrepreneur Eric Sparre, the Artspan portal enables visitors to view 4,000 artist websites in 18 different categories, including painting, photography, jewelry, and sculpture.

Artspan recently announced that they will not be charging commissions for sales made directly through members’ sites.

“We will not charge any commission on purchases made by buyers going directly to the artists’ websites. These are their buyers, not ours,” says Sparre. “There will continue to be a minimal commission on sales where the buyers use our searches and shops to find artwork. We will use the proceeds to promote the artists’ work and the ease of the shopping experience on and” is a new boutique collection of artist websites specifically targeted to buyers looking for handcrafted jewelry. Its websites also appear on

Autonomous Website with Community Benefits

As an Artspan or Jewelspan member, you get a multi-featured, customizable individual website with its own domain name. No technical background is required to manage your Artspan website; you can upload new work and blog posts whenever you are ready. You can customize the layout, fonts, and colors as desired.

If buyers meet you an art show or read about you through your own publicity efforts, they can access your website directly by entering your domain name in the browser search window. (You won’t pay Artspan commissions on any sales you make this way.)

But if you want your work to be viewed by a much larger pool of buyers who are searching for contemporary art online, you can rely on the experts at to help generate additional traffic and exposure for your site. This relieves you from having to master the intricacies of SEO (search-engine optimization).

It can be a best-of-both-world scenario. While maintaining the autonomy of your own website, you will be part of Artspan’s searchable, high-traffic community that is consistently top-ranked for the term “Contemporary Art” by Google and Yahoo.

Artspan also provides you with a wealth of marketing information and easy access to their Help Desk, which can be reached by phone or email.


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Art Market Insights from the Founder of 5 Pieces Gallery

For a magazine article on art collecting I wrote last fall, I contacted Dennis Ammann of 5 Pieces Gallery in Bern, Switzerland. I had featured a news release from 5 Pieces Gallery on this blog, and recalled that his gallery sold original, contemporary art. (See “Curated Online Gallery Reports Growing Online Sales“)

Dennis is one of those great sources a journalist loves to find! He gave me far more information than I could possibly fit into my assigned article. And, he didn’t seem to mind if some of the questions I asked seemed pretty basic. Before I share some of his comments here, let me provide a bit of background info about the gallery.

About 5 Pieces Gallery is an online art gallery that offers original contemporary artworks and small editions from young, established artists and leading art galleries from around the world. Collectors can choose from paintings, drawings, mixed-media works, prints, and photographs priced from $50 to $20,000. The site offers more than 1,000 original artworks and 400 small print editions from more than 134 artists in more than 38 countries.


Most artists on 5 Pieces Gallery are under 40, but have already had exhibitions at well-known museums and galleries such as the MoMA, PS1, ICP, MOCA, CO2, and the Saatchi Gallery. Some artists in 5 Pieces Gallery have been featured in the ABSOLUT Blank series, an art project that collaborated with artists such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Damien Hirst in their early days.

Most of the artwork can be purchased securely online with a PayPal account or credit card and safely delivered to more than 40 countries.

Dennis founded the gallery in January, 2011 because he felt an online gallery could unite artists and collectors around the globe. He noticed that many art buyers were emerging from Asia, Russia, and the Middle East at a time when some renowned contemporary artists were from regions that the art market has overlooked for decades.

Ammann wants the gallery to be a place where art collectors can find the “next big thing,” but also be affordable enough to encourage a new generation of collectors.

In this interview, Dennis Ammann explains how the Internet is changing the art market, creating a new breed of collector, and empowering artists and collectors alike.

How has the Internet changed the art market?

DA: The Internet has been a facilitator in creating an art scene that acts and appeals globally. It has opened doors for thousands of potential art enthusiasts and promoted more transparency in pricing. For the first time in history, a mass audience can engage in collecting.

People who previously have never felt comfortable walking into an art gallery and asking about art, now have no problem doing so because they can do it online.

The Internet definitely creates a new kind of art collector. It all feels less elitist now and people are buying what they like, not what they are told to like.

I think the Internet has also been an amazing tool and catalyst in the development and communication of contemporary art. The speed of creative exchange and conversation is very radical. Because I think art should be about debate and discussion, I find this to be a very good thing.

Plus, the Internet has given emerging artists a shot at building an audience and consumers a chance to buy quality art at a reasonable price. Name Banksy, an artist who spotted the democratic and commercial potential of the Internet, has priced his canvases for $600 online but ended up selling them for more than $1.8 million USD at auctions.

How is your gallery responding to changes in the art market?

DA: For galleries, it is becoming increasingly necessary to be accessible online. The Internet has broken down borders, allowing easy communication with people all around the world. The Internet gives gallery owners access to a wider group of artists and clients. Some days we have thousands of visitors, which is much more than we could expect in a static space.

In a world in which the people either do not have the money to go to commercial galleries in New York or London, and or the time to search for artists to collect, it is our aim to take the guesswork out of collecting, and offer easy access to the backrooms of the galleries of this world.

Due to the Internet, the contemporary art scene is on steroids. Everything is happening faster, especially when it comes to prices. The prices for some artists’ works are rising at unprecedented rates. As a result, works by younger artists are being considered  by more established art collectors.

On the other hand, the art we are showing has enormous crossover potential with young collectors. Many of today’s collectors of contemporary art are looking for artists and works that speak to their generation. So, the affordable prices allow us to cultivate a younger collector base as well.

Without the Internet, it would have not been possible to establish our gallery so quickly as an international meeting place for artists and collectors. We already have happy clients in more than 50 countries around the world.

On your website, you mention that 5 Pieces Gallery is empowering artists and collectors. How are you empowering collectors?

DA: By showing nearly all the prices on the website, we approach the process of purchasing art in a way that makes it as easy and transparent as possible for everyone. Our goal is to offer fair prices while still respecting the value of the quality in the artwork. We can offer outstanding prices on high quality art because we make great efforts to reduce our fixed costs.

How are you empowering artists?

DA: Our relationship with the artists is very unique. Being an artist is a very hard job- there is no security in an artist’s life, especially in that of a young one. So, we try to promote our artists to the best of our ability. We want to see artists grow, give them faith, and provide them with an opportunity to expand. We feel strongly about giving back as much as possible and lending support to younger artists. For this reason, we send our artists much more than the usual 50-50 split in the case of a sale.

It means a lot to our audience that the artists benefit directly from any purchase. Because our clients more directly support the artist, they become patrons. Through our social-media channels, such as a special Twitter list and YouTube channel, clients can take a look into the vibrant lives of our artists at any time. Our artists are so accessible that you can become a part of their lives and feel that you play a role in their success.

What else makes your gallery unique?

DA: First of all, we are very global in our outlook. It is important to us to support young contemporary artists from all corners of the world to show different perspectives on life and society, and provide diversity in content, comment, and style.

The gallery has a strong desire to challenge the viewers, social norms, and our own values and beliefs. So, it is not only about technique, beauty, or understanding of light and figure. It is more about how well the art mirrors our society. Artists from a variety of countries and culture join our group and give life a greater meaning in this context, and together create a visual opera of our time: pure passion, edge, and undeniable beauty. This all comes together on our site, yet we still distinguish the creative process of each artist. It is a really enriching experience to visit our website and group shows.

Most of our artists are professionally trained and have an MFA at a prestigious university or art school. Some of them have been exhibited at the MoMA, PS1, ICP, MOCA, and some of the most important museums in Europe even though they are still very young. The combination of museum-quality artists and their high-quality originals and editions distinguishes us from other online art galleries.

Are most of your clients experienced collectors, or new collectors?

DA: Our clients range from some of the strongest collectors in the world who are building very powerful collections for museums and foundations, to some of the poorest. All in all, I would say that it’s about a 50-50 split between more experienced collectors and new collectors.

What steps to do take to educate novice collectors?

DA: At 5 Pieces Gallery, our mission is to help every client discover, learn about, and collect the most exciting works of art available. It is important to us to show the client from the beginning how honestly we work and how much we have to offer. Thus, we are supportive rather than prescriptive in our approach.

Because most of our clients do not have time to waste, it is important for us to provide them with all the information they need as quickly and professionally as possible.

Also, to showcase the very best artistic talent the world has to offer, we work with art curators and experts around the world who have a lifetime of experience. Together, we put a lot of effort and time into the search for new talent. We hand select every artwork with the utmost care to ensure that every collector can find the best contemporary art available at affordable prices. Novice collectors can be confident that they are getting a good deal when they buy from us.

What criteria do you look for in when choosing which artists to feature?

DA: First and foremost, the artist and the work itself must appeal to us personally. We look for artists who are unique in their approach.

I believe that if young artists are consistent with their work and ideas, and if greatness, passion, and endurance are there, then the work will take its proper place no matter what type of art it is.

Important artworks are most often an individual’s uncompromising vision. They’re often found to be different and radical or are misunderstood at the time, only to be recognized later as having something valuable to offer.

So overall we are looking for artists who have a solid vision and original style. You’ll find emerging and established names on our roster, but all of our artists have a thread and synergy that run through their work. It’s the energy and life in the work we look for.

I think good art stands on its own merits. We ignore and avoid the hype. We judge the work with our eyes and hearts, and not our ears. Popularity should not be confused with importance. Fortunately, there are a lot of people out there who like the same stuff we like, so we do well.

Do clients have any hesitation about buying an original work from an online gallery?

DA: We haven’t yet had a client who was hesitant about buy original art online. We are a trusted source in the business and have built a good reputation. Anything ordered from us arrives quickly and safely.

Customer care is a crucial factor in our business. Once we receive an order, the artwork is packed by our sales team or the artist directly and then is sent to the client usually within three days along with a certificate of authenticity signed and numbered by the artist.

We are very experienced in packing art with the utmost care and provide numerous, credible professional services. Our customer care team is here to answer any specific questions a client might have. We also offer a money-back guarantee, if the work should arrive damaged or unsatisfactory in any way.

Other than “buy art that you love,” what single piece of advice do you typically give to someone who may be purchasing original art for the first time?

DA: Although many of our collectors enjoy purchasing art as an investment, we advocate buying art primarily for the enjoyment you get from the work. After that, the investment potential becomes incidental and merely a potential bonus to your overall enjoyment of the work.

If increasing the value of your investment is a consideration, then I would recommend purchasing original paintings.

However from my point of view, collecting is a very personal experience, and what is most important is that you find artists whose work speaks to you in a unique way. I like helping people to build up strong, personal, cohesive collections they and their families enjoy every day.

We hope our collectors purchase art at 5 Pieces Gallery as a personal investment- because it moves them on an aesthetic, emotional, and intellectual level.

What does the future hold for the online art market?

DA: The Internet has definitely made access to contemporary art more democratic. We are developing a kind of universal culture of art, which of course is a fantastic way to unite and promote the best in human nature. But I’m curious to see how the Internet will ultimately affect individuality and the development of art in general.


Website: 5 Pieces Gallery

Facebook: 5 Pieces Gallery

YouTube: 5 PiecesGallery


Curated Online Gallery Reports Growing Online Sales