Art market merchandise throwdown

I’ve been doing a lot of research on websites that sell arty stuff to people (duh). There are quite a number of new – within the last two years – websites that are really honing in on this “artist” and “maker” audience. The gap in online services to these groups was clearly identified and now the internet is doing what it does best – create access for more people to produce/consume more things. Common threads? Lots of editorial – content is key. Everything is very image heavy, easy to share. The prices are accessible and there is a (fairly) unified aesthetic. Also, the websites all followed a similar pattern with different augmentations: Shop, Meet the artists, Blog. In fact, I was so struck by this that the images preceding each description below are of the header content on each site. It’s almost formulaic!

Now, I said they were all the same, but this one is a little different. That's because Goodsmith's content is almost entirely maker-generated.


“The Marketplace for Makers” is very similar to Etsy – makers set up their own shops on the site through which they sell their crafts. They have the edge on accessibility for the vendors, with free-to-very-cheap membership.  The quality of the craft is higher, though already there are mass-producers slipping in. They also emphasize a network between makers, which is something I talk about a lot with TEN. They even have a group sale promotion, whereby the artist agrees to bring down the price per item if a target quantity are sold. The model here is about scaling up. There’s a huge content generation aspect, with a member-generated blog, features, newsletters, and images everywhere. Very Tweet-able, very Pin-able.

Screen shot 2014-04-22 at 12.08.01 AM

Of a Kind

“Know and Own” is also a marketplace that connects designers (mostly fashion, but also home goods) with buyers. They sell limited runs direct from designers in editions of 30-85. Most of the products are made in the US, but it’s not clear who exactly is making them. The price is variable, with most goods falling between $50 and $200. Again, editorial is key – lots of it.

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Art Markit

Art Markit is very new (launched Jan 2014) and a little bit different from anything I’ve seen. Started by a very well-known curator in New York, they sell merchandise that is linked to emerging- to well-known artists. It’s confusing, but they work with both artists who are actually producing the work sold, as well as artists like Ai Weiwei, who consent (I assume) to have some iconic image of their work printed on a snowboard or sunglasses (and we’re talking mostly clothes, small home goods, and gifts, here). They produce a lot of curated content – interviews, blog posts, lists – with major artists and designers. There are a lot of little features throughout – artists can propose projects and if the curatorial team likes it, they’ll link them with vendors (I think) to produce and sell it. They also partner with arts non-profits who receive a percentage of the proceeds. There’s a lot going on and what looks to be very little revenue-generating activity so far.

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Baye posted about this one a while ago, so I won’t go too deep on the description. The aesthetic is art world-y because it’s curator-driven and the founder is connected in the scene. They only deal in prints.