Saatchi Online unveils “7 easy steps” to successful art collecting in free e-book

Saatchi Online is making moves towards art advisory with a new e-book aimed at “collectors of all budgets”.

Saatchi Gallery’s online selling platform, which was established in 2006, has published a free e-book titled How to Collect Emerging Art in 7 Easy Steps, as online art retailers diversify to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive market.

Saatchi is increasing its online sales activities as well as maintaining physical galleries. Image courtesy Creative Commons.

Saatchi is increasing its online sales activities as well as maintaining physical galleries. Image courtesy Creative Commons.

The freely downloadable e-book, written by Saatchi Gallery Director and former Editor of ArtReview Rebecca Wilson, comes in at a slim 24 pages and contains advice for established and aspiring collectors of contemporary art. Wilson’s tips range, according to Eileen Kinsella in Blouin ARTINFO, “from the helpful and insightful to the inane and obvious, with thinly veiled (if unintentionally humorous) plugs for the site’s featured artists.”

The e-book breaks down successful collecting into “7 easy steps”:

  • A little history: A potted history of art collectors, spanning the Medici, Herbert and Dorothy Vogel and, of course, Charles Saatchi.
  • Doing the knowledge: ‘The Knowledge’ is not just something for London cabbies, claims Wilson; it pays to “do a little research” and “go to lots of exhibitions.”
  • Falling in love: Combine knowledge with an instinctive feeling for a work and collect with confidence.
  • How deep are my pockets? Establish your budget and stick to it; and remember that buying online with sites like Saatchi’s can save on commission, counsels Wilson, who is also Chief Curator for Saatchi Online.
  • Curating your own collection: Choose what you want to focus on, be it aesthetics, era or medium.
  • In focus: Buying photography: The e-book takes a closer look at what makes photography a good medium for first time buyers.
  • Art as an investment: If you’re seeking to invest, “works by emerging artists have the potential for increasing in value and leading to future gains.”
Paul Harvey, 'Charles Saatchi'. © Paul Harvey, image courtesy Creative Commons.

Paul Harvey, ‘Charles Saatchi’. © Paul Harvey. Image courtesy Creative Commons.

Speaking to ARTINFO, Wilson pointed out that Saatchi Online is different from many other art e-commerce sites as it allows collectors to buy directly from artists, whereas other sites “act as brokers between collectors with big budgets and blue chip galleries.”

Online platforms: Saatchi’s future?

The Saatchi enterprise seems to be increasingly committed to selling art online: at the beginning of September 2013 Charles Saatchi announced he would be selling his personal collection of Middle Eastern art through online-only seller The Auction Room. The platform, which was established by Sotheby’s former European Managing Director George Bailey, attempts to mirror live auctions, with specialists on hand to advise would-be buyers.

As Georgina Adam notes in the Financial Times, a notable quirk of the AuctionRoom is that it does not post sales results online. “Unless you watch the auction on your computer and note the prices, you won’t know the results […] This could be good news for Charles Saatchi, who has consigned fifteen works to the sale – few will know if they underperform or fail to find buyers.”

The online art market is becoming increasingly competitive, particularly with the entrance of Amazon, which sent competitors “spinning”, according to Fine Art Connoisseur. Established online art sellers such as Artsy, Paddle8 and Saatchi Online, as well as relative newcomers such as The Auction Room, are looking for new ways take advantage of the opportunities offered by the low-cost online model, according to ARTINFO‘s Rob Sharp.

Saatchi Online’s move towards “the advice business”, as ARTINFO describes their foray into e-books, is an example of the company’s attempts to diversify from competitors.

Unlike most other sources offering tips about art collecting, the guide doesn’t shy away from the potential monetary rewards. The final chapter, “Art as an Investment,” advises the reader to “buy what you love,” but adds, “If the investment side of buying art is an area that you want to consider then buying works by emerging artists is probably the best place to start.” It goes on to plug several award-winning Saatchi Online artists as good bets.

Cassandra Naji

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Related Topics: art marketbusiness of artart and the Internet

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