The insider:

How to buy art online?

25% of art sales have been sold online in 2021, as much as never before. If you’re now looking for great emerging artists that don’t yet demand crazy prices (more in the hundreds or low thousands) you’ll find great offers online. But how to tell the wheat from the chaff? We sat down with Beat Raeber, co-founder of pioneering art platform The Artists, about what’s important when buying art online.

“Collecting art will always require time and money”

ARTLEMON: Beat, has the internet completely democratised art buying?

BEAT: Yes and no. You still need a budget for art and not everyone can afford that. You also still need to see a lot and do your research to know what you like, but now you can do that in the cosy environment of your living room with the full transparency of the internet.

ARTLEMON: And as a rookie, I no longer have to go into a gallery where often you have to ask the right questions to receive information on artists, artworks and prices.

BEAT: Exactly. Although some online art platforms also do offer personal advice given by humans. It’s a good idea to make use of that when you are unsure what to buy.

ARTLEMON: One big problem with buying art online is that the number of platforms and art on offer is just overwhelming. How do I filter through the noise and discover the artist of tomorrow?

BEAT: You open your browser and type in www.theartists.net (laughs). But seriously, having a great filter is the most important thing to ensure quality, and that is still done best by a person that has the experience and network to select good artists.

ARTLEMON: Like a curator?

BEAT: Yes. At The Artists, we work with different curators that select a batch of artists from their network that we then present on our platform. But we don’t just put the artists’ works on our online shop, we introduce the artists and we also introduce the curators that have selected these artists.

ARTLEMON: So the collectors can understand why an artist has been selected for them and why their art is considered great by the curator?

BEAT: Yes. A good online platform should not just be selling art, but introduce and communicate new artists, to really help the customer discover new works of quality. And providing diversity through changing curators that each have different knowledge and artist networks.

ARTLEMON: So not to get stuck in a bubble by having always the same people selecting art for the platform. But still, as a collector I have to take the time to get to know the artist and their work.

BEAT: Collecting art will always require your time and money. The internet can help to reduce both, by making information better available and by offering room for artists that don’t have high prices, for example because they are not yet represented by a gallery.

ARTLEMON: Who are typically your customers on The Artists that buy art online?

BEAT: It’s really mixed. We have seasoned collectors as well as curious newbies that discover our artists, but also art lovers that already know some of the artists we present, or people that are looking for a specific topic, like this lady who’s in agriculture and bought some works of one of our artists dealing with agricultural topics.

ARTLEMON: But collectors of emerging talents can also discover artists themselves, for example on Instagram.

BEAT: Yes, but there is no filter on Instagram, unlike on a well-curated online art platform.

ARTLEMON: True. So as a rookie collector, I better get some guidance by trusting a good platform with good curators to pre-select good art for me.

BEAT: And meet the artists if you can!

ARTLEMON: Also online? I much prefer physical encounters… and to experience art offline.

BEAT: That’s why online art platforms should also offer physical experiences with both the art and the artists. At The Artists, we organise physical exhibitions and studio visits in addition to our website. That way we create proximity and foster conversations between artists, curators and collectors.

ARTLEMON: Why is it so important for collectors to meet and listen to artists?

BEAT: Because it best fuels the passion and enthusiasm needed to collect art. To understand how an artist works, to receive intimate insights, to discover details, to experience the personality of an artist, those are wonderful experiences.

ARTLEMON: So buying art online ist first and foremost a discovery, a broadening of horizons, while you also get something nice for your home, ideally for a good price.

BEAT: With the right platform, that’s possible!

ARTLEMON: So what are the next steps for first-time online art buyers?

BEAT: Find a great platform that is in your price range, check if it has great curators and great information on the artists, look at a lot of works, and eventually just dare to click on a work you like, buy it and see what happens.

ARTLEMON: Because chances are it’s magic that will happen! Thank you Beat and we look forward to discovering some great art on The Artists!

Beat Raeber is an art historian, former galerist and former member of the Art Basel selection committee for young contemporary art. To learn more about The Artists’ mission, how it works, and to discover great emerging artists, visit www.theartists.net.


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