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The New Age of Art Buying

Demand for e-commerce is booming, and art is no exception, with many buyers swapping the in-gallery experience for online shopping. Spotting this trend, Australian expats Elena and Blair Thomson launched Addicted Art Gallery, an online portal selling contemporary art, urban and pop art, and original vintage posters (from $500 upwards) that they’ve purchased from galleries, artists, auctions and art fairs around the globe. We asked them about the digitisation of art commerce and why it works for their business.

Art in Singapore
Elena and Blair Thomson

What made you launch online as opposed to opening a physical gallery space?

Research and experience have shown us that online is the way to go. Technology is getting better and better, so high-resolution images of a piece, an independent condition report, a certificate of authenticity and a gallery that stands behind its art combine to give a high level of comfort to an existing client or a potential one. Also, we want to be international, and having an online platform makes us that.

The other point to consider is that people are very often not in the same country as the artwork is, so it’s a great way to reach new collectors. We also feel that being online takes away the intimidation for those who aren’t comfortable walking into a gallery. Our clients can browse at their own convenience. Most art storage facilities function as mini-galleries these days, too. By that we mean there’s usually an art viewing room or area within the facility where your art can be hung for clients to see.

So, we should expect to see this online gallery trend continue?

We’re seeing an increasing number of galleries giving up physical space in favour of going online. By 2019 the online art market is expected to be valued at an estimated US$6.3 billion – that’s almost three times more than in 2013. The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2015 showed that 49 percent of people purchased art from online platforms, up from 38 percent in 2014 – so, the market is definitely on the up.

More and more institutions and galleries are going online. Examples include Sotheby’s and Christie’s, both of which have enabled online bidding; and Artnet and Artsy, online resources for buying, selling and auctioning art.

Singapore art vintage posters

Does this mean the eventual extinction of the physical gallery?

We don’t think so. Not everyone is comfortable buying online. There will always be people who love to go to opening nights and exhibitions.

Can potential buyers view the works in person before committing to purchasing online?

Absolutely! We have taken clients to our art storage facility where they have been able to get up close and personal with the pieces.

What’s next for Addicted Art Gallery?

We are currently developing an app that will make the decision-making process even easier for existing and potential clients. It will allow our collectors to virtually bring the gallery into their own home or office.

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