The internet is home to a new niche market for affordable art, with 20×200, Eye Buy Art and, the website featured in this installment of 10 Questions, ArtStar. Afforable doesn’t mean cheap or mediocre, rather it allows both young and established collectors to buy work from emerging talents and major players who are looking to reach a broader audience. ArtStar operates on a simple motto: “If you enjoy art, you should have the chance to own it,” a challenge to the exclusivity of the art market that caters solely to high rollers. I was intrigued by the diversity of the artists they represent, from Chinese landscape photographers to Iranian illustrators. A personal favorite is Jason Alper branding canonical paintings – including David’s Bonaparte Crossing the Alps – with the Louis Vuitton logo. I was fortunate to share a conversation with ArtStar’s talented team: Founder and Director Chrissy Crawford, Business Director Michael Malone and Creative Director Richard Hendricks. ENJOY!
In five words or less, ArtStar is. . . .
Best (Online) Art Gallery. Ever.
What is your advice to someone just beginning to collect art?
Simply, buy what you like. We also recommend starting small, knowing your tastes will change over time. And take risks, it doesn’t have to hang above your mantle forever!
Our curators’ selections and Expert Picks are also fun ways to see what other people like and why. But no one else’s tastes should ever dictate your own. Think about what you want to wake up to and what you would want to show off to your friends.
Who is ArtStar geared toward? Is there a target audience or consumer?
ArtStar doesn’t have a target audience or demographic – we want to engage anyone with an interest in contemporary art. That said, we have been pleasantly surprised so far as we expected to have a lot of first time art buyers, but it turns out the majority of our collectors actually work in the art world and are excited that they now have the chance to own works from artists they love.
Do the artists you represent find you? Or are you active on the hunt?
We are active and on the hunt. Each artist on ArtStar is recommended by one of our international curators and most already have gallery representation so we work closely with their galleries as well. As a result, you can find a carefully vetted selection of art on ArtStar from China, India, Korea the Middle East as well as the US and Europe. Collectors would need to travel to international art fairs to find a similarly diverse selection of work in one place.
Does ArtStar have a particular style with a curatorial mission?
We don’t have a definitive curatorial mission except to find cutting edge contemporary art that raises our pulse. Our goal is to offer top contemporary art from around the world that people can get excited about, so it’s important that we not select work with a particular style in mind. It just needs to blow us away!
Rich: Much of the work by our Chinese artists, for example, is informed by China’s shift away from a traditional form of communism towards improved economic opportunities and rising consumerism over the last few decades. This is an incredibly interesting dialogue that is happening right now in Chinese art unlike anywhere else in the world.
There is a revolution of sorts in the market with affordable art on the internet: Etsy, 20×200, Exhibition A etc. What do you think is the cause of this phenomenon?
Mike: I think there are two primary causes behind this phenomenon. The first is the rather organic migration of seemingly all things bought and sold to a virtual marketplace. The second, which expedited the first, was the great recession. It’s difficult to fully articulate how much of a toll the downturn took on artists, collectors and galleries leaving artists and their dealers little choice but to explore new ways to reach collectors. This has led to an enormous amount of innovation and contributed to a broader, more dynamic marketplace for art.
What makes ArtStar unique in this niche market of affordable art?
Chrissy: Nowhere else can you find a curated collection of art from leading artists in the US, China, India, Korea and beyond.
Our framing option is also unique. We aim to remove barriers to collecting contemporary art and finding a good framer can cause a lot of anxiety, so we feel it’s important that collectors have the option to receive their works custom framed and ready for their wall. Collectors in big cities love it!
Our prices are also more affordable across our full spectrum of sizes. While many of our competitors offer very low introductory prices for their smallest size, their prices increase rapidly from there. Our prices increase at a more linear rate: our 11×14 is $25 and our 30×40 is $250.
Grace: We’re also super fun, host great parties, and love talking art. We basically want everyone who loves the site to be in a nerdy art club with us through our events, newsletters and blog. Accessibility is key. Who cares if you know what “giclee” means?
What is the best art to decorate a bathroom with?
Mike: I would have to go with Mr. White and Mr. Pink by Jason Alper. After all, is there a better combination for a bathroom than Star Wars and Playboy?
What would you avoid hanging in a bedroom?
Chrissy: I would personally avoid art in my bedroom that is comprised of dark subject matter or imagery. I don’t want my last thoughts before I fall asleep to be apocalyptic. As the owner of a young online gallery, I have a hard enough time falling asleep!
Does art make a good gift? You know, for a wedding or house warming or bar mitzvah?
Art makes the perfect gift! What better way is there to help a friend or family member into a new home or stage of life? I mean, how many salad bowls does a person need?