Online art marketplaces enjoy renaissance amid gallery closures


Demand for buying artworks online has more than doubled amid the coronavirus crisis, with one online art marketplace recording its best month for sales in its seven-year history.

London-based Artfinder has seen a 110% surge in new customers in April compared with the same period last year, with an artwork being sold every 12 minutes on average.

The total number of artworks sold has soared 65% year-over-year, with more than 1,000 artists selling that month alone. Customers also spent an average 5% more on their orders.

Michal Szczesny, chief executive of Artfinder, said the pandemic has been unprecedented in its reach, affecting the entire artist and customer community, from art gallery and art fair closures to the inability to shop for some essential art supplies.

“However, online art venues like Artfinder are enabling the art market to continue its operation in the pandemic age. As a marketplace business, we’re very lucky that our artists are able to continue creating, safely self-isolating in their studios and we’ve been able to reassure our customers that we’re open for business and they can shop with us safely.”

Artfinder offers 8,000 artists selling original paintings, prints, photographs, and sculpture, the chance to reach 450,000 subscribers across the globe. Because the art is sold with a 14-day money-back returns policy, buyers aren’t stuck with something they don’t want in their homes.

Julia Swaby, one of the artists selling on Artfinder, said she has sold more than ever before and this has helped keep her studio afloat. “Many of the pieces I’ve sold have been expressivist works, depicting joy and hope,” Swaby said.

The business is backed by the investors behind Spotify SPOT, and Zoopla, including Wellington Partners, Oxford Capital and Cambridge Angels.

Consumers locked down in their homes have also fueled a surge in the online interiors sector, with online home and leisure sector revenue growth in the U.K. up 134% year on year, according to Statista.

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