A New Generation of Art Buyers Look Online

'Oil On Canvas #13', Tomasz Kobialka (2013), Courtesy of Sleek-Art

It’s probably trite to say that the Internet is transforming the very mechanisms that keep the art world ticking, but I’m going to say it anyway, because really: it’s the truth. Particularly, the increased appetite for buying art online has changed the structures of what we might call ‘decision-making’, because according to the Hiscox report Online Art Trade 2013, seeing a JPEG image is all that 71% of art collectors have needed in order to purchase a work online. Perhaps when it comes to younger buyers, whose understanding and appreciation of the World Wide Web is bred in their bones, this type of commitment isn’t as scary as for those who have been buying in person all their life.

Sleek-Art.net is one example of how these changes – a globalised market; an emphasis on speed; and a keen breed of younger, trend-conscious buyers - are playing out. The sister website of Berlin-based art and fashion magazine Sleek, it positions itself as a ‘new way to collect art’, and specializes in edgy contemporary photography (though they do also sell painting, drawing and editions). Featuring such artists such as Louise Gibson, Maxime Ballesteros, Matt Lambert, Tiziano Martini and Bernhard Handick, it is a platform that extends the title’s offering to not only show, but also actually sell, the work of the artists they support.

It’s easy to see where Sleek-Art.net’s appeal lies. The website’s blog-like layout gives it a nonchalant air, as if it’s only one step beyond the innocent but incessant Tumblr browsing that is the 20 and 30-somethings’ forte. Perhaps that is where some of the new entrants in art buying are coming from: because if you’re an art lover, able to buy an original work for €500 (or, if you’re feeling more committed, €4000 will buy you a painting by Ville Kylätasku) on an e-commerce site from the comfort of your own bed, then eventually, you probably will.


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