Art Radar explores 6 online start-ups bringing about change in the future of art business.

Once bastions of tradition, art businesses are now strengthening their online presence and operations. But established companies are facing challenges from innovative online start-ups bringing new ideas to cultural commerce. Art Radar looks at how 6 exciting start-ups are changing the future of art business.

Screenshot of Artshare, an online platform dedicated to the exhibition and sales of contemporary Chinese art. Image courtesy Art Radar.

Screenshot of Artshare, an online platform dedicated to the exhibition and sales of contemporary Chinese art. Image courtesy Art Radar.

The 1990s and 2000s saw the emergence of numerous online art sales websites, but only a few have survived to this day, including and auction service In recent years, there has been another surge of new online-only platforms that have seen million-dollar investments. Georgina Adam reported on BBC Culture news that “New start-ups and established players are turning digital to sell art online.” In their Art and Finance 2013 Report, Deloitte and ArtTactic state that,

2012 saw an acceleration in the number of online art businesses coming to the market, with more than 300 online art ventures launched to date.

The global online art industry covers segments such as data, information and research, social communities, auctions and galleries, business-to-business and consumer-to-consumer art transaction platforms. Furthermore, the report says 62 percent of art professionals and 65 percent of collectors believe that online art businesses are here to stay and will play a significant role in the art market in the next two to three years.

Screenshot of Artsy, an online contemporary art sales platform, which has attracted investors such as Dasha Zhukova, Founder of Moscow's Garage CCC, Wendi Murdoch and Jack Dorsey, creator of Twitter. Image courtesy Art Radar.

Screenshot of Artsy, an online contemporary art sales platform, which has attracted investors such as Dasha Zhukova, Founder of Moscow’s Garage CCC, Wendi Murdoch and Jack Dorsey, creator of Twitter. Image courtesy Art Radar.

In the Online Art Trade Report 2013, Hiscox and ArtTactic outline the recent key trends in the online art market, including investors’ belief in the growth of online art sales and the flourishing of online primary market platforms promising to generate new audiences for artists, galleries and museums. In addition, art giants such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s are also moving a lot of action to the virtual sphere by holding online-only auctions.

Among the most successful online platforms to date are auction platform Paddle8, Artsy, Artspace and Artshare – a website dedicated exclusively to contemporary Chinese art, which acquired the online-only art fair VIP Art Fair in April 2013 – to name but a few. Art Radar looks at six exciting online start-ups that are set to change the way we conduct business in the art world.

Screenshot of Artsper. Image courtesy Art Radar.

Screenshot of Artsper. Image courtesy Art Radar.


Founded in 2013 by young French entrepreneurs Hugo Mulliez and Francois-Xavier Trancart, the platform is dedicated to art sales with partner galleries. The company has established collaborative relationships with reputable galleries that participate in art fairs across Europe.

The website sells artworks by the galleries’ represented artists and guarantees a bi-fold standard of quality: Artsper expert committee’s selection and the galleries’ own. The entrepreneurs have taken as their ideal partner galleries that are managed by a very small team, without sufficient time or manpower to do their own marketing and expand their online presence.

Artsper does the online work for them, bringing in traffic, promoting their artists and expanding sales. Each artwork on the website comes with a full profile providing all the information a buyer needs to know. The platform claims to be the first of its kind in Europe, and aims at both young and established collectors looking for art in a wide range of prices.

Screenshot of ArtCiti. Image courtesy Art Radar.

Screenshot of ArtCiti. Image courtesy Art Radar.


Artciti is brand new, having launched in January 2014. The website is the first virtual art gallery and auction house in Pakistan aimed at promoting the country’s art across the globe. At present, the virtual gallery offers over 240 works by 44 artists, including established names such as Sadequain and Iqbal Hussain.

This platform will also help in creating a ready secondary market where art lovers and collectors can trade their portfolio holdings. This additional market platform may also be used to auction priced pieces, artist’s collections and renowned paintings.

ArtCiti also plans to tour selected countries to promote Pakistani artists, who will accompany the team and will be able to enjoy exposure to the international world of art.

Screenshot of Vastari. Image courtesy Art Radar.

Screenshot of Vastari. Image courtesy Art Radar.


Vastari, launched in 2013, is an online platform that connects museums to private collectors. The concept revolves around the need for museums to borrow works of art for exhibition from private collections and the desire of collectors to have their artworks included in prestigious museum exhibitions around the globe.

The system includes two search engines: one database of exhibition proposals for collectors to browse and a search engine of objects for museums to consider for exhibition. The platform guarantees maximum level security, a secure messaging system between collectors and museums, and provides featured articles about collecting and curating. Access is only granted to registered members, namely private collectors and museum professionals.

This year, Vastari has also become one of the 12 start-ups that Microsoft is backing in the United Kingdom with its 12-week Microsoft Ventures Accelerator programme, which includes mentoring, technical assistance and three years’ free access to resources (software) and support.

Screenshot of s[edition]. Image courtesy Art Radar.

Screenshot of s[edition]. Image courtesy Art Radar.

s[edition] Launched in 2011 by Harry Blain, Founder of Blain|Southern and Robert L. Norton, former CEO of Saatchi Online, this online sales platform offers artworks for sale in digital format, at affordable prices, making art more accessible.

The platform aims to encourage people who might not be able to afford artists’ traditional physical artworks to become collectors of digital editions. The platform offers limited edition artworks exclusively created in digital media by leading contemporary artists, including videos and stills.

Sedition includes works by renowned contemporary artists such as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Yoko Ono, Jenny Holzer, Wim Wenders, Bill Viola, Bharti Kher, Ryoji Ikeda, Wang Qingsong, AES+F and many others. The website stores the collection securely on its servers and makes it accessible to the collector anytime, from any device and screen.

Artworks are sold at  prices ranging from as low as GBP5 to 1500. For many of the works, the price goes up as the edition sells out. The edition runs from a range of 30 to 10,000 editions. Each work comes with a digital certificate that is “signed, numbered and authenticated by the artist”. Once an edition is sold out, collectors can resell their works in the online marketplace.

Screenshot of ARTtwo50. Image courtesy Art Radar.

Screenshot of ARTtwo50. Image courtesy Art Radar.


ARTtwo50 was founded in 2012 by Ethan James Appleby, Patrick Coughlin, Win Raguini and Brandon Flayler. The idea came after the founders, who were looking for art for their homes, found galleries too intimidating, online sites overwhelming and pricing confusing.

ARTtwo50 makes it easier for buyers to find art that fits their demands and their homes, without having to confront the intimidating and opaque art world. With an innovative app, the platform allows its users to take a picture of their home space with their iPad and browse through artworks that fit the dimensions of the space and their requirements.

The client is able thus to preview the artwork as it would look in their home and then make their selection from there. Users can also purchase art through Pinterest.

ARTtwo50 recommends original art by United States-based artists tailored for each user, all for the set price of USD250 with free shipping and free returns. When artists have sold a certain number of pieces, they will be able to have higher priced artworks available for sale (USD 500, 700 and 1000).

Screenshot of Artsicle. Image courtesy Art Radar.

Screenshot of Artsicle. Image courtesy Art Radar.


Artsicle was founded in November 2010 by Alexis Tryon and Scott Carleton in New York City. The online platform offers registered members the ability to rent inexpensive artworks at a low fee. The website targets young collectors with a low-budget that might not have much knowledge of art.

During registration on the website, the user has to take a short test that will at the end result in the suggestion of suitable artworks by a virtual curator. Most of the artworks are small to medium-size paintings, and there are more than 150 artists with over 3000 artworks on offer. Clients can select an artwork to rent for a month for between USD25 and USD65, depending on the size of the work.

After the set period, the client can renew the rental, return it or choose to purchase it, for a price range of USD500 to USD2,500 and free shipping. This concept allows clients to appreciate art inexpensively, live with art they love and be sure, before purchasing, that the artwork is really their final choice.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia


Related topics: online art resources, business of art, market watch, art and the internet, democratisation of art Related posts:

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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