Before I begin, I want to say that when the idea of writing this post came to me, I had no intention of this being a multi-part series with 800 word diatribes each day. I’m not upset that it became that kind of discussion, but I am shocked at my own resolve to get this whole thing out to you, especially because of all the other posting obligations I gave myseld during this stretch. Personal note to self: do not schedule more than 1 post series at a time unless I’m going for some sort of posting record. I just hope I’m delivering the goods and you folks are appreciating the info I’m laying out here.
Speaking of which, let’s pick up where we left off from last week. We’ve already discussed storefronts, marketplaces and production houses. Today we’re moving onto what seems to be the fastest growing segment of art sites: Curators
Hand Picked for Your Lifestyle
Curated and Juried websites such as 20×200, Fab, 1xRun and others are popping up all the time, and each one has its distinct style and methodology. From offering short-run, limited editions to short-term “daily deal” offer, there is a growing number of sites looking to sell art fast and relatively cheap. The upside is that they’re looking constantly looking for new art to showcase, and even if you’re an undiscovered talent, they’re may be a space with your name on it.
In full disclosure, I have not personally worked with any of these sites, but have heard the point of view from others who have; no major horror stories, but definitely a few pitfalls to avoid. Because a lot of these sites are relatively new in comparison to other sites we’ve already discussed, it’s hard to say exactly what the downsides are to them, but I can only imagine that getting paid could be at the top of the list of concerns. Fulfillment is another area to get completely clear and squared away before committing to working with a curator site.
Fire Sale on Art
Before I get much deeper, I’m breaking these sites into two key categories: The Daily Deals, and the Exclusive Curations. The first group includes sites like Fab.com and the newly minted Uncovet.com, where several deals are sent out daily on a wide variety of art and design products. You can find everything from fashion to home accessories, and art is a major player in this arena. In fact, I’m seeing more and more artists amongst the group each week.
The sites don’t accept everyone; the work has to be exceptionally good and/or unique, but if you do get accepted, it’s a quick way to sell a couple hundred prints or more in a few days. Deals usually last about 3 to 5 days, depending on the type and projected success level. Each one works different, but essentially you are discounting your normally priced goods in exchange for selling in bulk. I can’t speak about all the sites out there, but I know that Fab.com will even do your order fulfillment for a small fee. It beats spending the time to send all those prints out yourself.
To become a featured seller, you have to apply and if they feel your product has the chops, they’ll talk to you about how to best orchestrate the offering. Some things to keep in mind are 1.) do you have the ability to produce several hundred prints if that were the case, and 2.) do you know what your margin needs to be to offer a decent deal and still make money on it?
The daily deal sites are great for getting your name out to a bunch of people you would normally never see, and the folks that go there are looking to buy. The beauty is with the wide audience base, you’re bound to find your ideal client. I’ve see all kinds of items sell on these sites, and at wildly different price points. As long as your product is good and you have a proven record of selling, they’ll do their best to accomodate you. Just be very clear with yourself about what you need to make out of the deal for it to be worth your while, or you may end up losing money instead.
Membership Has its Privileges
The sites in the Exclusive Curation group are, well, considerably more exclusive; operating more like online galleries. 20×200, 1xRun, Mammoth & Co and Papirmasse are just a few, and each one has very specific types of art they are looking for, if they’re even looking. In fact, at the time of this writing, 20×200 and Papirmasse have both closed their submissions for the time being, but that doesn’t mean it will always be that way. Stay in contact and you might find your way on the inside eventually.
Of course, each site has their own identity, as well as different ways they offer the art, but the common thread seems to be a focus on limited edition prints offered for as long as the prints are available. Some sell faster than others, and sometimes the ones that sell slowly may end up getting discounted until they are gone.
20×200 and Mammoth are fairly similar, offering different art, in a variety of sizes. The size and popularity of the artist tends to dicate the amount of prints offered, but pricing tends to be somewhat universal across, varying only slightly on occasion. These sites are a great way to start a small art collection at a reasonable price.
Papirmasse is a bit different than the others because you’re buying into an art subscription rather than individual pieces. Think of it as Art of the Month club; you pay a flat amount of $60, no matter when you sign up, and you get a new, small print in the mail every month for the duration of your subscription. There is no mention of limited edition here, nor the quality of the paper, so it’s possible the art is printed on traditional card stock or something similar, but they will be offering a “Collectors Edition” soon where the art will be more limited and traditionally printed.
Finally 1xRun is a bit of a combination of the two types. Different art pieces are offered about once a week, give or take a few days, and the runs are very limited. Pricing is moderate to expensive depending on the popularity of the artist, but some fairly well-known names are being added on a regular basis. Of all the choices above, 1xRun is by far the most exclusive, not even mentioning anything about artist submissions on their site. I believe they hand-pick all their featured artists, but again, that doesn’t mean you don’t have what it takes to be on there. You just have to get yourself noticed. How that’s done is a whole other post completely.
All of these curation sites will take a considerably larger amount of time and effort to be part of than anything we discussed up ’til now, but anything is possible with a little energy and will. If you’re fresh out the gate with your prints, you likely won’t be on any of these sites right away, but you never know what could happen. The importan point is to keep trying until you find the market you want to be in most and rock it until its dead.
Being the most ambiguous of all the posts on this subject so far, I happily invite anyone who has been a part of any of these sites to offer up some sort of insight. I know I probably skewed some facts on this, so help a brutha out and set us all straight in the comments below. And come back in a couple days and we’ll wrap this series up with our final installment on Communities.