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ugalleryThe artistic lifestyle may look glamorous from afar, but in reality making a good living as an artist as challenging. UGallery’s mission is to “democratize” the process of selling artwork by connecting artists directly with collectors.

UGallery announced today that it now has over 500 artists in its community and 6,000 original pieces of art in its marketplace. According to the company, these are the biggest numbers today for an all-original art focused startup and speak to a growing interest in buying art online.

A report issued in March by Deloitte and ArtTactic found that “the art world is moving online.” Over 300 online art ventures have launched in the past few years and at least 71 percent of art collectors have purchased artwork online and this number is expected to rise. Online and offline, the global art market is on the rise and the international business community is acknowledging art as a desirable area of investment.

ugallery artUGallery is an online art gallery that features original, curated works of art in a range of genres, styles, sizes, and mediums. All the artists and pieces are reviewed by a team of in-house experts, and only 10 percent of artists who submit an application are accepted to ensure quality. Collectors can browse the inventory, narrowing options down with filters like price and color and give pieces a weeklong “test run” in their home. Major competitors in the space are Art.com, Artspace, and Artsy, but UGallery said it is unique because it eliminates gallery middlemen who are often limiting and expensive.

“For too long, collecting original art was limited to the physical infrastructure of the gallery and auction house,” said founder Stephen Tanenbaum in an email. “Other services like Artsy and Artspace are really just liaisons for art galleries. They aren’t revolutionizing the traditional art business model for artists or collectors. Instead, they’re giving galleries another selling channel. We, on the other hand, have created an online community that connects the two directly, without the hassle of the traditional physical gallery.”

Tanenbaum said this approach makes it easier to sell, discover and purchase original, high-quality artwork at an affordable price. The art world is fearsomely competitive and getting artwork into galleries or museums is difficult. Long before my VentureBeat days, I dabbled with art writing and worked at multiple museums. The process of getting artwork discovered and showcased is a lot like trying to become a movie star. Some people get lucky, but the industry is dominated by an elite cabal of influential people that is not easy to penetrate.

UGallery’s mission is to give artists a functional selling channel with a wide reach so they have opportunities somewhere between posting paintings on coffee shop walls and snagging an elusive gallery show. The company has had year-to-year growth averaging over 62 percent side 2008 and has sold art in over 35 countries.

The company is based in San Francisco with an office in New York.


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