27.08.2021 - Innovation, Startups, Technology

Startupart.lv digitises the purchase of paintings

On average, more than 350 paintings are sold per year on Startupart.lv, the digital painting sales platform for young artists. This year, 272 paintings have been sold by the beginning of August. More than 1050 paintings are currently available on the platform and for sale.

During her second parental leave in 2015, Agnese Strazda, then head of communications at SEB Bank, came up with the idea of an online sales site for paintings by young artists. The idea was inspired by Ilze Strazda, the daughter of her husband’s brother, who was studying painting, and a room full of paintings that was created in the process. When thinking about the possibility of an exhibition, Agnese realised that it would be much harder for the young artists individually to attract attention than for many of them to work together on a single digital platform.

“I made a simple contract, with two important things: how the works are submitted and how they are paid for if they are bought,” she says. The platform started with three artists, but has now grown to 114.

When consulting friends about what platform to use, Strazda was recommended Shopify. The user experience was so good that she put the first paintings on the web while her daughter was asleep in the pram. The first purchase was made the same day the platform went public. At first Agnese thought that an acquaintance had noticed her Facebook post, but it turned out that everything happened exactly as originally planned: the person was simply looking for where to buy a painting online.

“It’s so interesting how quickly things happen in the digital world. You press a button, and your service has a life of its own,” says Agnese.

Later, as the number of paintings grew, the platform was moved to WordPress, which is a more cost-effective solution for such a project.

Agnese has noticed that the average price range that is most acceptable to buyers is between 50 and 150 euros. Most of the buyers at Startupart.lv are from Latvia, but there are also purchases from Lithuania, Estonia, the UK, and Germany. Some paintings have even travelled to the United States. Receiving orders from abroad, she is very happy to see a Latvian name and surname.

“At such moments, I know that I have succeeded in achieving what I wanted: the works of Latvian artists reach Latvians all over the world, and paintings created in Latvia can be found anywhere,” says Agnese.

The needs and desires for artworks by Latvian artists are diverse. Local buyers are most often drawn to a particular painting. Outside Latvia, there is often a special story behind why a painting is bought, such as homesickness, a desire for a Latvian symbol or a wish to give someone a story from Latvia.

Startupart.lv represents new artists. Agnese points out that these are both young artists and artists who have already turned to art at a later age. “We have agreed that age does not matter. The main thing is the style and quality of the work,” she says. Sometimes parents also want to feature their children’s work on the platform. Children’s work is not found on the site, but some artists as young as 16 are represented.

Agnese adds that she does not consider herself an art expert. She consults with her colleagues on the project. There have been occasions when a work she was sure would sell soon has not found a buyer. The opposite is also true: a painting she doesn’t like finds a buyer the next day.

Agnese believes that art galleries are less likely to be competitors of Startupart.lv. 

“Our goal is to make paintings available to the public, our customers are those who want to buy paintings. They are very diverse and very accessible at Startupart.lv. Within a certain price range, photography in canvas format is also a competitor. Our task is to offer a real painting by a specific artist,” says Strazda.

Art is not a commodity that is bought every day like food. However, sales results have not fallen during the pandemic. There were buyers who wanted to add something beautiful to their homes. For many, the home also became an office, and people turned to home furnishing, including adding paintings.

When buying a painting online, a person lacks the opportunity to view it in person. “95% of people just trust it and then write that it looks even cooler on their wall than they thought it would,” says Strazda. For the rest, we give them the opportunity to see it in person, because we understand the concerns of potential buyers before making a major purchase.

Looking to the future, Agnese sees a demand for large-format paintings. Artists are more likely to create small and medium format paintings, given the financial constraints. They are simply bought more often. But there are times when someone really likes the theme of a painting. In those cases, the idea is to give them the opportunity to make it in a larger format. The possibility of commissioning individual works in larger numbers has also been introduced. This could be a way for the company to promote itself.

“This project definitely has a wider potential for commercialisation. But the opportunity to help young artists right here in Latvia is of the biggest value to me,” says Strazda.

Although it does not qualify for the classical definition of social business, this is what she calls it in her head. “This is a social project. I help people with talent to use the digital environment to sell their work. I love this format,” Agnese says.

Source: labsoflatvia.com

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