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Online Art Sales Trending Upward As More Brick & Mortar Galleries Close

September 25, 2009

Owners of two well established Scottsdale art galleries site the growing popularity of the internet and growth of online art sales as their reasons for closing shop.

Lesley Levy and Victoria Boyce, long time owners of well respected, nationally known art galleries in Scottsdale, Arizona are closing their storefronts to sell art over the Internet.

“I need to sniff, touch and tweak (art), but the majority of my sales now are over the Internet,” Boyce said. “The whole art business is in the midst of a massive change in terms of how people look at art and buy art. I just decided it’s time.”

Boyce, who has been a part of the Scottsdale art district for 33 years, the last two decades with her own gallery, said she’s a people person. “So I haven’t a clue how this going to work out when I’m behind a computer. I’ve got a giant question mark on my forehead.”

The shift in how people buy art is creating distress for some who, like Boyce, must learn a completely new way of marketing art.  But the upward trend of online art sales is also creating opportunity for others.

theteam_BrianOne of those is online art marketplace owner Brian Walker, who is positioning his business, to capitalize on the growing shift to online art sales.

“We started just over a year ago when we recognized the need for a curated online art gallery,” said Walker whose background as an artist and marketer gives him the experience and the expertise to attract artists and art buyers to the site.

He noticed that most of the sites, “just accept any artist who has the desire and money to join,” explained Walker.  “We wanted to create a more professional online gallery where the work, and the artists behind the work, was serious but not intimidating.”

According to Walker, he looks for art that appeals to a mainstream audience of collectors and interior designers, but mostly finds art for people who are simply purchasing art “because they like it.”

“They want art that is cool, beautiful, unique, lovely … art that they want to hang on a wall in their living room or in their offices”, said Walker.

Walker controls the inventory by managing the number of artists on the site, and by curating the types of art and quality of the work displayed.

“Art is personal and people simply like what they like, but it needs to be quality,” said Walker.

The formula seems to be working because traffic to the site is doubling monthly, and art sales, according to Walker are dramatically improving.  He added that like most art galleries, “art sales downturned last October but sales are gradually returning” which is his signal to add more art and artists to the gallery.

Currently has 598 independent artists displaying and selling their work on the site.  New works of art are posted to the gallery directly by artists who also update art as “sold” or hide images of artworks that they’re taking to shows, so the inventory of art for sale is constantly changing.
On any given day Walker estimates the value of artwork for sale on the online art gallery at over $17,000,000.

According to comments by Boyce, this isn’t surprising. “We buy everything – even our houses – over the Internet,” Boyce said and added that the Internet is responsible for more than half of her business.

“A bricks-and-mortar space is all well and good, but it’s not where people are coming anymore,” Boyce said.


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