Discovering Artists, By The Score

The Lads @Jacqueline Hammond

The Lads @Jacqueline Hammond

I like fashion, intellectually, because it’s such clear evidence of the human urge to decorate and present. Clothing is our most accessible art.
But what about art in the historical definition – painting, photography sculpture? While we can find clothing today even at the drugstore it seems, art’s been traditionally more difficult to get hold of.

I have always found the hush of art galleries more unnerving than even the glare of salesladies in the Chanel section of Neiman Marcus. Silly, but true.

The Glass House, @Dominique Vangilbergen

The Glass House, @Dominique Vangilbergen

Introducing Saatchi Online

Charles Saatchi made a fortune in advertising, and used it to buy art. Time-honored tradition, for fortunes. Eventually he founded the Saatchi Gallery in London, and then Saatchi Online.

Art-buying in the virtual world is not new of course. sell prints and other pieces, Deviant Art provides a self-showcase for artists, Kathy Leeds hosts a very popular Facebook page showcasing artists, here. I’ve run a few Discovering Artists posts myself, featuring my stepmother’s photographs, Anna Mavromotis’ paper work, and Sandra Salin’s flowers, as well as this piece that I purchased, over the Internet if not online per se, from Lily Stockman,

However, they’ve done a notable job of creating an online experience for browsing, considering, and most likely purchasing paintings and photography at Saatchi Online. I don’t have data about the buying experience, since I haven’t gotten that far, but at a guess they know what they are doing.

Unititle00314 @Peter Matyasi

Unititle00314 @Peter Matyasi

The site has several sections. The most expected is the online gallery. They’ve done a really good job designing the interactions. You can shop, as usual, by category. As a software person, I appreciate the evidence of thought put into categories, that’s where real evidence of user experience discipline and customer knowledge shows up. You don’t want a logical taxonomy so much as a map of user decision and entertainment patterns. Here you can search by type, or style, but also orientation.

Sometimes you need a portrait shape on a narrow wall, sometimes a horizontal landscape behind your big ol’ sofa.

Blueberry Sky, @Clara Hastrup

Blueberry Sky, @Clara Hastrup

There’s also a section for curated collections, which helps to break up what could be an undifferentiated stream of images into groups small enough to absorb, with the promise of intent to seed meaning. And Saatchi hosts competitions with judging and awards, so you can browse, in the moral equivalent of a Netflix, “I just want to watch Oscar-winning films tonight” indulgence.

Spirit House @Carl Jennings

Spirit House @Carl Jennings

The one bit that holds no appeal to me is the section on investing in art. Sure, prices may go up. They may also go down. I’d rather follow my heart than theory if I’m buying beauty. There’s a sport aspect to art collecting and investing that I have seen up close, but doesn’t resonate with me. I suppose if it helps artists, I’m a fan – if a confused one.

I chose the pieces to include in this post because I like them. The process gave me words for my preferences. Small patterns, geometry. flat paintings, who knew? The broad value of Saatchi’s site, beyond commerce itself, is that of any online shopping – to educate one’s eye and understand the market. To explore one’s own taste and one’s own style, in the company of knowledgeable companions. Or, you know, have a little fun.

Sponsored by Saatchi

All compensation for this post will go to Dress For Success.

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  • Thank you for the very kind mention – I enjoy showing the work on FB, although FB would now like to charge me to promote posts, and if I don’t pay, they show it to very few people. It’s beyond annoying as I don’t profit at all from the page, and I’m currently re-thinking it.

    I will be back later for another comment that I need to coalesce in my brain so it doesn’t take up two full pages in your comment section.

    Fascinating post on so many levels, for me.

  • Buy only what you love is great advice.
    Why buy something if it doesn’t bring you joy every time you look at it?
    I must admit that buying art as an investment is rather like buying jewelry as an investment. I can never part with either.

  • Intellectually, I get buying art by orientation, but not emotionally.

    Every art buying discussion in our house goes like this:

    Me: I LOVE this! LOVE it!
    Long Suffering Spouse: Where are we going to put it?
    Me: We’ll find a place, it’s AWESOME!
    LSS: ~sigh~

    5:01 pm
    Lisa said...

    But at least you do buy it. That seems admirable to me.

  • Great post. Online art perusing is my new indulgence and I spend more time imagining a new painting on the wall, then how a new pair of boots would change my life. As I get older, if I had to choose between buying shoes and art, I’d buy a painting. Maybe it feels like I’m helping someone else out. I really like these two site for art: one is a very democratically-priced online gallery, the other a fascinating new artist I discovered.

    I’d love to hear from other readers about their favorite art sites.

    5:03 pm
    Lisa said...

    Thanks for the additional links. I think the online art world is in the stage where the concept needs to be marketed, hence every new site is good for every other site.

  • I’ve always loved art galleries, maybe for that same hush you mention and reverence for creativity? I don’t know. I love the selections you’ve shared here and that last one…wow.

  • While in college, I worked in an art gallery. I’d often find people peeking in from the door or window, intimidated to enter. I’d coax them in amidst apologies that they “knew nothing about art”, as if some formal education was needed to just look around and see what you liked. Too bad.

    It’s sad that art galleries are closing so quickly all around the country, as online sites seem to be taking over. A lot of the galleries that keep a physical presence, do so while also operating an online gallery. Of course, pros and cons, as nothing quite beats seeing art in person. Paintings can look a lot better in a photograph, or a lot worse. It’s an altogether different experience, but we’re moving forward, and both my husband and I have been considering submitting to Saatchi Online before you wrote this post.

    I like a number of the paintings you’ve chosen, the first one in particular which holds a lot of mystery in the simplified image.

    5:04 pm
    Lisa said...

    That first one I just love to pieces. Perhaps also because I had such skinny children, it brings back the days of seeing them in their bathing suits, illuminated from behind.

  • So timely Lisa. We were just in London last week and our son took us to a Saatchi art museum. It was sublime. There were so many pieces that I truly loved.

  • Didn’t Charles Saachti recently attack his wife, Nigella Lawson, in public? I would feel uncomfortable supporting. his. ventures even if, ironically, it helps to support Dress for Success.

    5:06 pm
    Lisa said...

    On the other hand, the site itself has a woman as CEO, and in two of the other three executive roles.

  • Thank you Lisa for the lovely mention. You found some good stuff on the web. I haven’t had such luck. I don’t think I’ve spent the time that you have. I know that art consultants purchase my art from photographs on my site. But I think that they’re used to buying for clients with out seeing the pieces in person. They have a vision of how the size will work.
    Love the colors in Spirit House.
    I’m with you, I follow my passions when it comes to art. Never could use it as an investment vehicle. Maybe it’s too close to my soul.
    Nice to see you feature art for a little change up.
    Loved your interview.
    It was so you.

  • I’ve whiled away some happy time lost in links from this post. I know people who collect art, and those who buy to fill a particular space in their decor. In the end I am not constitutionally suited for either. I can only buy what I love and I suppose this also makes me a little cautious about buying art online, much as I love looking, I am afraid that the actual presence of the work and the image of it may speak in different ways. Still, so many new vistas are opened, someday I might venture from looking to actually buying.

  • I like your ‘clothing is our most accessible art’ line – but went off Charles Saatchi when he practically strangled Nigella. Having said that, the Peter Matyasi print is rather nice.

  • What an interesting post LPC, and the comments too. I’ve bought some art online, although in each case I knew the artist. The idea of browsing online is a new one, but kind of fascinating. That first image is compelling. I think I love it.

  • What an interesting post, Lisa. You must have known it’s long past time to change out that faded Marty Bell from the 80’s behind the sofa. :)

    5:06 pm
    Lisa said...

    Ha! But of course!

  • I do know that art is available online.
    I also know, that buying it online will not happen in my case.
    Nowadays I´ve become quite suspicious buying even clothes online, let alone jewelry. Online -art is definitely not for me.
    I have to see all the above in person.
    Not liking the idea of DHL bringing my purchase to our gate, as they are afraid to enter closer ( the dog, the horse ).

  • Thank you for the great post, Lisa! We’re so happy you found art you love on Saatchi Online.

    To address some of the concerns of the commenters…

    We understand that some may be wary of buying art online, especially as the work is shipped directly from artists’ studios from all over the world, so that’s why we have a 7-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked. We want you to be able to purchase art with confidence.

    Also, when we talk about “investing in art,” our first principle is that you must first love the work. Period. There are no guarantees when it comes to art (except ours mentioned above!) so you may enjoy the work for a fairly long time before it ever increases in value.

    As Rebecca Wilson, Chief Curator of Saatchi Online and Director of the Saatchi Gallery says, “Buying art as an investment might not be important to you and you may never wish to sell the works you buy. But even so, it’s an exciting thought to imagine that the work you are buying could be by a future art star and that you got there first.”

    For us, it’s about discovering talent and we hope you discover art you love at Saatchi Online!

    -Nicole Garton, Saatchi Online

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