Fetching Art Online: Q&A With artFido Founder Juan Garcia  – artmarketblog.com

artfido Fetching Art Online: Q&A With artFido Founder Juan Garcia  – artmarketblog.com

The number of websites that facilitate the online sale and purchase of fine art has increased significantly over the last few years as collectors and investors become more confident in the ability of online art sales portals to provide a sufficiently high level of service, quality art, security and peace of mind.  One of the newest online art sales websites is artFido, which was founded by Australian entrepreneur Juan Garcia.

According to the artFido.com website, “at artFido, if you wish to buy an artwork, you can search for artworks in a myriad of ways, including by style, subject, size, price – even by colour!  On the other hand, if you wish to sell an artwork, you can set a start price and/or a reserve price (a feature not offered by many mainstream online auction platforms).  Both sellers and buyers benefit from our unique auction auto-extend feature, which extends the end time of an auction if a bid is placed in the last minute.  If you are a seller, you can be sure that the person who is prepared to pay the most for your artwork will be the winning buyer.  If you are a buyer, it means no more being outbid at the last second on an artwork you had your heart set on, and were prepared to pay more money for!”

Artmarketblog.com owner Nic Forrest recently spoke with Juan to find out more about his impressive new venture..  This is what he had to say:

1. Has the online market for fine art matured to a point where stand-alone ventures relying on the sale of online art are a viable option?

We believe so. We think almost every market has matured and adapted enough to go online. Houses, cars, travel, education. Those that haven’t will soon have to. The online consumer is maturing faster than most markets can keep up with. We’re just happy to be the first to really push a very traditional structure (the “bricks and mortar” art auction house) online. We know it will take time, but early indications suggest that we’re doing something that many people have been waiting for.

2. How would you rate your success?

Given the pioneering nature of the site and what we are attempting to do, we’ve been very successful. We launched on 22 May and already have over 300 artists and almost 100 galleries registered and using the site to sell their art. Every day, the numbers visiting the site are growing. At the moment we have around 500 new visitors a day. We’ve already sold works valued from $50 up to $15,000, and know that as people become more familiar and comfortable with the platform, our sales will only continue to increase in number and value.

artfido charity Fetching Art Online: Q&A With artFido Founder Juan Garcia  – artmarketblog.com3. What has been the most significant sale for you to date?

We are currently auctioning an artwork by underground UK street artist Hush to raise money for a wonderful organization called Challenge, which supports kids with cancer. The artwork itself is a spectacular mural painting of a Russian babushka doll (see image below) that Hush painted on the wall of Metro Gallery as part of his recent sold-out exhibition entitled “Hush – Sirens”.

Although Hush originally wanted the mural painted over upon the conclusion of the exhibition, when we approached Hush and Metro Gallery about the possibility of auctioning the babushka doll off to raise money for Challenge, they both jumped at the chance. It is approximately three times larger than the Hush paintings that sold for $15,000 during the exhibition at Metro, but as all the proceeds will be going to charity, the sky’s the limit. You can see this auction at http://www.artfido.com/listing.php?title=HUSH_BABUSHKA_MURAL_PAINTING_NO_RESERVE_CHARITY_AUCTION&item_number=2736495555

We were also extremely grateful to receive contributions to our Challenge charity auction from Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Mossenson Galleries, and Lookart Consulting. You can see these items here:

ABOVE – Australia Hanging Flag Arrow: http://www.artfido.com/listing.php?title=ABOVE_AUSTRALIA_HANGING_FLAG_NO_RESERVE_CHARITY_AUCTION&item_number=2736495582

Peter Walsh abstract painting: http://www.artfido.com/listing.php?title=PETER_WALSH_ABSTRACT_PAINTING_NORESERVE_CHARITY_AUCTION&item_number=2736495586

Dinni Kemarre sculpture of AFL Collingwood Magpies player Andrew Krakouer: http://www.artfido.com/listing.php?title=DINNI_KEMARRE_COLLINGWOOD_NO_RESERVE_CHARITY_AUCTION&item_number=2736495587

Adam Wheatley acrylic on surfboard: http://www.artfido.com/listing.php?title=ADAM_WHEATLEY_HAND_PAINTED_SURFBOARD_CHARITY_AUCTION&item_number=2736495591

As for our other sales, in our third week of operation an independent artist from Melbourne sold an abstract painting on canvas for $15,000 using artFido. We are very excited to see that art trade across the Tasman is strong, with a number of NZ artists and galleries selling artworks to Australian and overseas buyers and a number of Australian artists and galleries selling artworks to NZ and overseas buyers. We’re also very proud of helping an aboriginal gallery sell a number of artworks to raise money for an aboriginal community in the Kimberley region of Northern Australia.

We feel really privileged to offer our platform to organisations to help them in their fund raising efforts. We’re hoping other charities will also think about using artFido in the same way. If charities contact us beforehand, we’ll always allow them to list their artworks for free on artFido for fundraising purposes.

4. We already have online art fairs, galleries and auctions; what is the next step for online art sales?

We are. Really, we are. A platform where artists and galleries around the world can sell their art to a worldwide audience. A completely open market where art lovers can access more art, more often.

5. How do you attract and keep online buyers of fine art?

We’re doing all we can to create a platform that is sophisticated in use and operation. We understand that for some, shifting their art buying and selling practices online represents a new adventure, one that they are willing to undertake, but tentatively.

We’ve put things in place to help make their transition to buying art online a safe and friendly one by providing a number of features that other sites don’t have. For example, on artFido you can see the size of an artwork you are thinking of buying relative to the size of an actual person, you can contact the artist or gallery directly about their inspiration or motivation behind creating a particular artwork, and you can search for artworks based on your own preferences, budget, size restrictions, etc. You can even select an artwork based on your favourite colour! We know that buying art can be at times an overwhelming experience, so we’ve created a platform to allow a buyer to use their own unique search criteria in their own time from the comfort of their own couch!

In addition, the site is designed to reflect the look and feel of traditional art catalogues so that people who are used to buying art don’t miss out.

We’re also very conscious of ensuring that artFido continues to maintain artworks of the highest quality from only the best artists and galleries. With the addition of our panel of Art Watchdogs (art professionals), we’re doing what we can to address the fears some collectors and galleries have with the online market.

We’re really proud of the relationships that we’ve been able to establish with our Art Watchdogs, who are independent art experts with skill and experience when it comes to reviewing artworks from Australia, New Zealand, and the rest of the world. Our Art Watchdogs panel helps us to monitor the site and lets us know if in their opinion any listing of an artwork on artFido is ‘problematic’ in some respect. Given the bad press that the art market receives in relation to this point, we’re doing our bit to help our buyers navigate the often turbulent waters – an industry first. You can see our Art Watchdogs panel and what they do at http://www.artfido.com/art-watchdogs.php.

In a more literal sense, we’re attracting buyers through advertising in reputable art publications and involving ourselves in local art fairs and exhibitions.

6. What are the characteristics of the main buyers of fine art online?

They know their stuff. They are aware of all of the ups and downs of buying and selling art and have likely had some interesting experiences with existing online markets. They are tentative but excited by the possibilities of buying and selling online and like to test the waters before jumping right in.

7. Which countries are the most active with regards to buying art online?

Generally those countries that are early adopters of online technologies and markets. In addition to Australia and New Zealand, we’re finding there is a lot of interest in artFido from the United States and the UK, even though we haven’t advertised or launched there in any way. We think we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the market for online art sales. This is going to be a huge market before too long and we’re happy to be at the front of it.

8. How would you describe the current environment for online art sales?

Please see the answers above.

9. Which mediums are the most popular with online art buyers?

We’re finding the traditional mediums of oil or acrylic on canvas are selling well via artFido. It would seem that there is still a huge market for traditional art. Abstract art also seems very popular. In any case, given the variety of artworks currently available on artFido, we’re confident that there is something for everyone.

10. How does your company best take advantage of the online market for fine art?

By being extremely open and transparent. We’ve been very careful to create a platform that is approachable and user friendly. We are very conscious of the fact that some buyers, particularly new art buyers, feel uncomfortable buying art through a traditional “bricks and mortar” auction house or art gallery. The traditional structure is foreign, and somewhat overwhelming, to most people. We’ve developed a site that respects the traditions of the “bricks and mortar” auction house whilst at the same time adopting the possibilities and functionality of online platforms.

11. What are your plans for the future?

At present, we’re busy building a user base in Australia and New Zealand. In the next few months, we’ll introduce our simple online payment platform and then look to launch in other international markets. Our Director of Marketing and Communications is currently in the United States and that would seem to be the most obvious market for us to enter next. Ultimately however we’ve structured the site and our operations so that www.artFido.com will become a truly international marketplace.

12. Anything else you would like to add?

A couple of thank yous. Creating a new market for art online is a difficult task. We’ve been fortunate enough to have the assistance and support of many of Australia’s and New Zealand’s most respected galleries, artists, and art professionals. Without the help of the existing art market and their enthusiasm for our new platform, artFido may never have got off the ground.
Finally, we strongly encourage all artists, galleries and art lovers to check out www.artFido.com. With so many original artworks for sale of differing styles, mediums, sizes and prices, we’re confident there’s a fetching artwork just right for you.

**Nicholas Forrest is a Sydney/London based art market analyst, art consultant and writer.  He is the founder of the Art Market Blog (artmarketblog.com) which offers independent commentaries as well as research and analysis on the current art market, and has recently been published in Fabrik magazine, Verve magazine, Visual Art Beat magazine, Australian Art Collector magazine, Art & Investment magazine and many others.  Nic has made several radio appearances (both nationally and internationally) as an art market expert and has received press from the likes of the New York Times, Conde Nast Portfolio and Times of London.

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