In the not so distant past, experts said we would never buy clothes online. They were wrong. Even today when e-commerce has become the norm, people are surprised when you tell them you buy your art online. “I wouldn’t trust buying art online” and “I have to see art with my own eyes first” are common responses.
The traditional gallery system instills this fear. By making art less accessible and their spaces an exclusive members only club, artists and buyers have been getting a bad deal with inflated prices and the majority of art locked out of the market. But things are changing. Revolution is in the air and an online art marketplace is leading the way.
“Bluethumb and online art sales are going from strength to strength,” says artist Llael McDoanld. “It’s becoming the golden age for the artist. We finally have a say, we finally get to tell the old school galleries how it’s done. Best of all we get to cut out the non-creatives that so often took most of the credit and the money.”
Selling original art direct from Australian artists’ studios and shipping free to collectors nationwide, Bluethumb are on a mission to make collecting art affordable and attainable. With a seven-day return policy so you can see the art on your wall before making your final decision, they’ve taken the risk out of buying online.
“We now represent over 2000 Australian artists and sales have doubled since November,” says co-founder Edward Hartley. “Sale are strongest late on Sunday night. People browse on their phones using our app at a time when galleries are closed. You were never able to buy art like that before.”
Not only does Bluethumb allow you to buy art when you like, their search tools make it easy. You can search by colour and refine further by collection, medium, price and size. With an impressive array of artists including Archibald Prize finalist Kim Leutwyler and Waterhouse Prize finalist John Graham, some of the best new art in Australia is only a few clicks away.
“Bluethumb also makes it easier to be an artist,” says George Hartley, Edward’s younger brother and co-founder. “Along with the exposure that comes with the hundreds of thousands of hits we get a month, we remove distractions by marketing our artists and arranging deliveries, leaving our artists to do what they do best.”
Regional artists, like Trentham based Llaell McDonald, are benefitting most from Bluethumb’s service. Artists that once had small audiences for their work are selling nationally and the new version of the Bluethumb app allows those without laptops and Wi-Fi to upload works using their smartphones.
Another innovative initiative to help regional and emerging artists break out, is the 2016 Bluethumb Art Prize. Nominate an artist for the $10,000 prize and you will enter the draw for $5,000 of art. Not bad for helping out a friend!
Written by Freddy Grant