When was the last time you heard about an amazing new collage, or a great new painter? Probably not recently enough to feel like fine art is still a staple in our society. And yet there are amazing new artists out there.
Art e-commerce website Rise Art sees a disconnect between artists and the digital world. It aims to reconnect the two today, with new social features and an undisclosed round of funding.
When Rise Art co-founder Scott Phillips saw his wife, an amateur painter, and her fellow artists having trouble connecting to galleries, customers and critics in an increasingly digital world, he set out to create a website that met those needs. Artist needs in addition to the needs of customers who were also wondering where fine arts went.
“The art wold is so fragmented and intimating,” said Phillips in an interview with VentureBeat, “We fundamentally believe the art world doesn’t have to be a ‘you have to rich or an insider’ to have access. So we set this up.”
The recently-launched Rise Art, like a number of art-oriented websites, allows artists to upload and sell artwork from dedicated profiles. But while this website helped artists get online, it wasn’t unique — websites such as ImageKind allows you to upload artwork for sale — and wasn’t interactive. That’s where the new social elements come into play. Now visitors to the Rise Art website can follow artists they like and receive notifications based on their activity. The website boasts an activity stream, which allows you to see when an artist uploads a new work, sets up an event, updates their status and more. You’ll also receive notifications from artists you’ve purchased from in the past.
It’s not that easy to sell your art on Rise Art, however. In order to approved for sale, artists go through round of voting from the community, which is then passed on to a panel of “experts” for judgement. These experts include gallery owners and others in-the-know such as well known curator Kenny Schachter.
“They review the portfolios on the site, let us know which ones they really like, and based on their view, we feature the artists,” said Phillips.
According to Phillips, only about 10 percent of artists make it to sale-approval after the voting.
There is mutual benefit for an artist being judged and a volunteer expert, however. Artists often want their works showcased in a gallery, it brings on attention and potential buyers. Gallery owners want to find budding artists they find talented, who may make a good exhibition. In this way, the two parties are able to meet a little less serendipitously. Experts are also welcomed to create profiles on Rise Art and promote gallery events and other news.
Rise Art doesn’t make money through facilitating these relationships, instead it only makes money when the artists do. The company has revenue-sharing agreements and takes a cut of every work sold. Rise Art also commissions some artists to create exclusive works to be sold on the website only.
The company is using its undisclosed seed round to fund new ways of generating revenue, such as an art rental program, which is yet to be launched. The program will allow you to install a piece of artwork for a certain period of time to make sure it fits with your house and personality. Art gets expensive and without the in-person aspect a gallery provides, this service brings the purchase back down to a human level.
Investors in the seed round include StubHub founder Jeff Fluhr and Great Oaks Venture Capital. Rise Art was founded in 2010, is headquartered in London and serves over 30 countries worldwide.