Much as the wine industry is currently transitioning from catering to highbrow Boomers to understanding Millennial-tailored (less exclusive) tastes, the art world is in a stage of reinvention. Once considered elusive and elite, fine art is opening up to the masses in order to attract younger consumers: twenty to thirty-somethings with limited budgets but the penchant to splurge on (certain) luxury items during their own transition into financially independent adulthood. Internet-savvy Millennials have the means to search across platforms for art that fits their design sense, but new start-ups want the art buying experience to be about more than just a transaction. Developing the idea that art can be an immersive experience, these start-ups aim to educate, excite, and build communities around modern art worlds, connecting enthusiasts with experts to expand knowledge at both ends and create a melting pot of interaction. The worlds of mixed media, canvases, historical artifacts, abstract paintings and sculpture are being intertwined in new ways in one marketplace, brought together by the eclectic tastes and desires of Millennials. The following five start-up efforts are moving the art world into the future by creating platforms that expose art to masses, and embracing the next generation of art collectors:
Making Luxury Accessible
The Twitter tagline for Artsy reads: “Making the art world accessible to anyone with an internet connection.” Created in a Princeton dorm room and launched as a start-up in 2010, Artsy aims to do for fine art what Moda Operandi and Gilt have done for high fashion, pulling back the art world’s curtain of exclusivity for the masses. The company’s Millennial mindset has it merging the art world and the digital space using its unique Art Genome Project, a database that categorizes more than 50,000 artworks for seamless search, down to every last detail. Users can browse this immense collection and purchase those that are for sale. Artsy’s mobile app release early this fall saw over 90,000 downloads in the first three weeks, and since Millennials are powered by their mobile devices, it’s no surprise that the mobile app has seen 5x higher engagement than the site. The company goes far to “democratize art,” much like the design apps we recently covered, letting users become a tangible part of the often exclusive art world.
Reviving Art Salons
Named for Gertrude Stein, Gertrude is a worldwide platform that is aiming to revitalize art appreciation. Visitors to the site can sign up to become a “curator” in the community, and curators are responsible for putting together the “salons,” gatherings of up to 40 guests to discuss different works, sometimes with the artist present. At least five spots in the gathering are required to be left open, widening the exclusive audience from gallerists and curators to art enthusiasts and students. Gertrude is fueling the energy of the underground art world, allowing art to be celebrated as an experience. Future exploration in the experience of art with Gertrude will include live performances, studio visits, and dinners with artists.
Gamifying the Art World
Indie gaming has been on the rise with Millennials and indie developer PlayArt Labs is appealing to their love of all things gamified with a puzzle piece approach to art. Artistico, the company’s app for iPad and mobile, has players race against the clock to repair famous artwork, putting the pieces back together while traveling through time on an art history narrative. Artistico immerses players in famous works while both exciting them with levels of game play and educating them about different eras and time periods. While art education is an admirable goal, PlayArt Labs recognizes that real value for Millennial-focused apps is merging online and offline for a wholly interactive experience, so they’ve partnered with MutualArt to gain access to artist information and gallery exhibitions around the world.
Sharing Curated Collections
Like many communities that center on curated merchandise (think Shoemint and Jewelmint) Curiator employs algorithms that help users define their favorite design styles, and uses these preferences to suggest art and customize the site’s offerings. While Curiator is still in beta, the site’s design makes finding art that fits personal tastes easy, able to search the Pinterest-like marketplace and browse in a variety of ways. Though customization is key for Millennials, perhaps the most telling indicator of young user engagement with Curiator is its focus on sharing. While browsing, users create personal portfolios of the pieces they love most and can share selections and entire portfolios with their social network.
5. Amazon Fine Art
Mixing the Marketplace
Can the world of fine art live next to canned goods and garden tools? Amazon thinks so, and is putting them side-by-side in your shopping cart. Still in beta, Amazon debuted its fine art department early this fall, showcasing works from $10 to $4.85 million all in one place. Though some have scoffed at the million dollar price tags of featured art from Rockwell and Warhol, the range of art in period, price, color, and more is undeniably large, a rarity in the art world. However, some are skeptical with the lack of standard information about each art piece, including history and condition. Though Amazon is a top retailer for many Millennials, they may steer clear of the fine art department with doubts of authenticity.