From Cory: Many of you saw the episode of Creative Insurgents where we interviewed the guys at ArtTwo50. Their company is now called Vango, and after being around for almost a year, they have some interesting data to share. I thought it would be neat to have them explain how they’re using technology to change the way that artists sell art.
You’ll notice that they have accumulated some very interesting data around how buyers are using mobile apps to purchase art.
Vango caters to what Brian Sherwin coined the Lower Art Market – lower price pieces accessible to people who aren’t rich, or who don’t attend gallery openings or art fairs. This is a workable alternative to the crapshoot of relying on the formal art galleries.
Our mission at Vango is to create a marketplace that enables more people to discover original art and for more artists to do what they love. To do this we looked at how we could utilize technology to improve the experience of buying and selling art, in a unique way, rather than just ‘putting’ art online. After debuting our initial concept as an iPad app ten months ago (under the name ARTtwo50), we learned, tweaked and launched a new brand, improved iPad app, and an iPhone app. Here are four interesting behaviors we learned, two from the buyer perspective and two from the artist.
Big Data Tracking Art Sales
For the buyers:
Support your Local Artist – similar to how people want to support their local farmer or buy from a boutique, mom-and-pop shop (even if they don’t know who they are), we found buyers wanted to do the same with artists (this was also driven by wanting a picture of the local landmark or landscape), but like local farms they didn’t have the time to go to open studios or art fairs. As a mobile platform, we were able to easily show local artists by using the built in GPS on our phone. From Cory: I asked Ethan about this and he told me that they were able to show an upward slope in the number of people buying locally, but that this is an early trend. I’ll point out that previously technology was not making it easier for artists to buy locally.
Art is Addicting [after you buy that first one] – For this audience, this is no shocker. But what we found in our initial research is that most people have either entirely original or entirely generic art in their homes. The one commonality we found was both sides had an intimidation around art, but those that had original art, bought/gifted that first piece at some point. So knew that if we could get people to buy their first piece, they would buy many more. This shows in the statistics, as 50% of Vango users are first time buyers, and of those 33% have become repeat buyers (returning after a month to buy a second piece…and we think that trend will continue).
From Cory: this goes back to what we teach about building mailing lists and marketing to existing clients. After you’ve been an artist for a while, most of your sales will come from existing clients. If you have a list of previous buyers, you should be marketing to them.
For the Artists:
Giving artists stats that matter – In talking to artists, we found that the problem with most sites is they can only give them views and ‘favorites.’ We wanted to give artists the ability to understand their viewership and buyers, giving them an intimate connection through the use of technology. It’s all about transparency and creating an open dialogue between artists and buyers. So we built in the ability to give artists more meaningful interactive stats (i.e. how long people look at each piece, when they zoom in, when they scroll to see the artist’s entire portfolio).
Removing the pain of pricing – The biggest pain point we found when talking to artist and buyers was around pricing. Artist hated the setting, justification, and negotiation of price, and buyers were confused by it. To address this we created unique pricing model where artist start selling for $100 or $250 and unlock higher price tiers the more they sell.
While we felt confident buyers would like this approach, we were worried about artist thoughts. Admittedly, we have a lot of artist that find it too low, but for those who do play, they love it. The feedback is that we made it a little more social and less arbitrary by creating transparent and public portfolio growth.
One very interesting behavior is that some artist are selling through Vango even in their studios or at art fairs because again it removes the bargaining as well helps them work towards unlocking higher price tiers.
This is very exciting for us but we are not stopping here. For buyers, we want to improve our recommendation algorithm and use GPS in more powerful ways (save recommendations to home vs office).
For artists, we want to provide more demographic as well as interpretations & guidance using stats (i.e. your ideal buyer is 28 year old female living in urban areas who like medium sized abstract blue art).
One of our core values is humbition – the combination of humility and ambition to achieve our lofty goal by constantly staying in touch with you. So please let us know what you think.
From Cory: modern tools like Vango are at the vanguard of what I see as a massive disruption coming for the art market. While early technology entries into selling fine art are initially catering only to the same old wealthy clientele, companies like Vango are showing that it’s possible to not only sell art using the Internet, but to also enable artists to get over the initial sale hump. If you want to check out Vango, you can visit their website at Vangoart.co.