Posts Tagged ‘James Brewer’
Gary Churchward Interview: Online versus High Street – crunch time for art galleries
By James Brewer
The future of the fine art market is in your hands – or, more precisely, in your internet browser.
Online art sites are challenging the traditional way of buying and selling, as the cost of running gallery property and maintaining adequate staffing continues to rise.
London businessman Gary Churchward, who has tested both the premises-based and the online options, has come down firmly in favour of the latter. His venture, www.thechurchwardgallery.com is ringing up steady sales of mainly contemporary prints and paintings.
While bricks-and-mortar galleries have long flourished thanks to the face-to-face relationships of proprietors with customers, virtual platforms offer flexibility and ease of transaction, and generate new audiences for artists, galleries and private sellers. It is little wonder that many old school galleries now include an online purchase facility.
Research in 2013 by insurer Hiscox revealed the growing trend for buying art online – with, at that stage, 71% of contemporary art collectors surveyed having bought artwork on the strength of a JPEG image. Buying art in that way has become the norm rather than the exception, said the insurer, although its study found that the majority of traditional galleries had resisted the move to e-commerce.
Mr Churchward relates how he came to be a champion of the online choice. He said: “Ten years ago or so, I started collecting art purely for personal enjoyment, meeting and building relationships with some of the artists along the way. One thing led to another and the next step was to operate my own online art gallery as the amount of stock I had compiled had become substantial, and the contacts I had made encouraged me do so.
“I had opened ‘pop up’ galleries in Shoreditch and in Southfields, different parts of London. Both had elements of potential success but also paved the way to showing that a high street presence, although wonderful to operate, costs a vast amount to sustain. I came to the conclusion that a viable high street establishment would be incredibly expensive, and highly risky without a good deal of investment backing in place. → Read more