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The case of Artsy

How did Artsy succeed in becoming a key online platform for the art world?
Artsy managed to become the leading platform for the online art market through a combination of factors. I would say, first of all, their growth model was quite unique. And despite the fact that disruption has been the norm in the tech industry, they adopted a partnership-based growth model. And they decided to build collaborations and partnerships with existing institutions rather than trying to compete with them. So this has been very, very crucial, in my opinion, to build trust with the art world.
And secondly, I think their fundraising strength has played an enormous role, because there is no other art startup– I mean, you know, art meets tech startup– that managed to raise such funds from the VC world but also from collectors, galleries who believe in the future of this new model. And they raised over $100 million, so it definitely inspired trust among the different actors of the art world. And it enabled them to build a product that actually offers a completely new product and service.
Thirdly, I would say that in parallel to all the developments happening within the art marketplace and the ties that they were building with the gallery world and the fair world, they also built a really powerful art magazine. So they have invested in creating original and comprehensive content with the aim to become the primary source of information for the art world. And it paid off, because they have approximately 2.2 million visitors per month on their magazine. And it became the most read editorial platform online. So it definitely contributes to the respect and legitimacy of the platform.
Fourthly, I would say, thanks to their fundraising abilities, they managed to invest in innovative technology that aims to revolutionise how people discover and learn about art, powered by deep learning. This is something they call the Art Genome Project. So imagine if Artsy was a city with different galleries and museums, auction houses, small and big with different means. But Artsy’s platform allows you to discover the artists you like by learning what you like. A bit like Spotify, I would say. But this is a definitive game changer for especially independent artists and galleries who are having a difficult time competing or being noticed among this competitive world.
And lastly, I would add that their positioning from the beginning was targeting global and young audiences who are the future of the art world. And these audiences are the most difficult to engage for the existing players of the art world, because they don’t know how to communicate with these global audiences. You know, for a gallery in a small town in Italy, I mean, it’s very difficult to find a way to connect with potential collectors in different parts of the world. However, a website like Artsy allows those connections to happen through different channels they have– from the Genome Project, their magazine, their social media account. So this is also, I think, crucial in the sustainability of their growth.

Listen to this interview, where Anlam De Coster, from Reiber & Partners, answers the question: “How did Artsy succeed in becoming a key online platform for the art world?”

Tell us your experience

Do you think seeing an artwork online can produce the same emotions as seeing it in the real life? What is lost and what is gained when one experiences art online?

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Culture in the Digital Age

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