ART55: the home of art
I’m Mark Fowkes, the founder of ART55, I want to try and briefly explain how ART55 came about.
I studied Graphic Communications at Northampton University and it was there that the idea of ART55 was born.
I was sitting in a pub called the Picture Drome, an old cinema converted to a trendy bar that kept it’s original features, a good place to sit and ponder business ideas.
I wanted to sell my own artwork to come up with funds to cover my stay at university but I struggled selling my artwork on other popular auction and art websites.
My main issue with them was that if I sold my artwork I lost quite a high percentage of the final sale fee. On some other sites you pay to have your work on the site for about 7 days, which isn’t enough time for potential customers to be able to see your work. Then all I did was end up spending money on relisting the paintings every week and not making any money back.
So straight away my thought was to start a website that keeps it as cheap as possible for the artist but to have the artwork on the website for a reasonable amount of time so it can be viewed.
So that was where I settled for £1 to list the artwork and for it to be on the website for 3 years, which I thought was a pretty good deal.
The one thing with ART55 that's different to other websites is that you pay the pound up front when you list your artwork. The reason for this was due to a couple of factors.
A lot of other websites make it difficult to contact the buyer in case you try and purchase the artwork from outside their website, it’s in case the artist tries to avoid paying the final sale fee which can be as high as 30% on some sites.
But with ART55 I wanted potential buyers to be able to contact the artist in case they wanted to ask for a commission piece to be done or just enquire about the artwork. I wanted it to be an open community where it wasn’t frowned upon for people to talk about commissioned pieces, because the way I see it, if ART55 has been paid, then you have paid for interaction with your potential customers AND I personally would love it if you gained commission work due to a conversation that started on ART55.
And being honest, paying ART55 upfront also helps me keep the website afloat.
Once I left university I decided to give this a go, if it failed, well at least I had tried.
But there was still a lot to consider.
When I first came up with the idea for this website, I found myself drifting towards the style and layout of other competitors. It’s easy to get sucked into what they are doing and all of a sudden you have an identical site. So I wanted the focus to simply be the artwork, you visit the website and there they are in front of you. And that was where the option for the artist to have their artwork on the front page came into it.
A lot of sites make the artist pay extra to have their artwork on the main page of the website, but I decided to give this extra for free to everyone. I started ART55 so that artists could have a home to sell their work, if it is hidden in the depths of a website, how will people see it? I want artists to sell their work on my site, but that is exactly it, I actually want their work to sell. So to have all artwork randomly featuring on the front page, well that was a must for ART55 to have.
The next thing I had to consider was what is the main point of the site, I know it’s obvious, to sell art. But was it going to be an auction site, a site with adverts etc etc.
Social media played a big part in the path that ART55 has taken. When I was selling my artwork I found that with competitors websites, my work got lost amongst thousands of other artists. As soon as I loaded up the first painting... that was it, gone.
So the form that ART55 has taken was based around my fianceé who is also an artist. She would constantly promote her artwork via social media, when people wanted to purchase her work, they had to private message her, then people start to haggle the price etc. The other negative point is that my fianceé, like most people, couldn't afford her own website that featured a checkout option. It costs a lot of money to start a website and the traffic to the website would only be specific to those who followed her, not much passing trade.
So the idea with ART55 was that it was a home to sell your art.
You the artist list your work on ART55, then when you share your work you put a link to the page that your artwork is on. Anyone who is following you via social media, they can click the link and purchase the artwork straight away... hassle free.
If you have a website that does not have a checkout option and it is just the image of your work, you could share the link in the description.
In the mean time I will also use social media to share everyones work to draw in traffic to the site.
So both myself and the artist are helping each other to get the traffic to the site to boost a chance of a sale.
Now to the payment, I wanted it to be secure for the artist and the customer. The only real way I could guarantee security for all parties, is if everybody has a PayPal account. So for the artist paying the pound to ART55, after listing your artwork it will direct you to PayPal to pay the pound.
When a piece of artwork is sold, the customer will purchase the artwork through PayPal so that you get paid straight away. If the funds aren’t in your account, you don’t send it, simple as that.
The next big thing I needed to conquer was to make the sales available to the whole world. Now PayPal helps with the currency conversion. I included features that help you as the artist decide if you only want to sell in your home country, Europe or world wide and how much postage and packaging you wanted to add to the item for sale for each country you are selling to. There are many options available and you set the price, which in return makes it easier for anyone that has interest in purchasing your work.
The name ART55.
Well I found myself surrounded by the number 5 when I first came up with the idea. Originally I was going to have it as £5 per listing and on the website for 55 days. I wanted the artist to be able to upload 5 images of their artwork to help showcase each listing, which is an option that I have still kept. And I also liked ART55 as it reads a little bit as the word 'arts'... sort of, use your imagination.
Below is a summary of ART55...
For the artist, you can sell your artwork without losing a huge chunk of your sale price to commission and members fees.
If you are looking to purchase a piece of artwork, register (which is free to do so) and click the purchase button on the artwork that you like... it's as easy as that!
It's simple to sell artwork on ART55, it’s only £1 to list each piece of artwork and that is it.
Sell a painting for £100 and you get every penny.
What you get for £1 is...
• Your artwork is on the ART55 website for 3 years unless it is sold.
• The site uses PayPal for secure payment for all parties involved.
• You can upload up to 5 images of each piece of artwork.
• Anyone who registers (free to register by the way) can contact a seller.
• We let everyone have the option to tick the ‘featured listing’ option. It is free to do so and if selected, your work will randomly feature on the front page.
• We try our best to share your work regularly via Twitter and other types of social media to help generate sales.
• It doesn’t matter what country in the world that you are from, we have made this site to cater for all, including different currency options and types of postage and packaging.
• You can list your work via most mobile devices.
So that is ART55 and how it all began. If you have any questions you are more than welcome to contact me.
I hope you can all make ART55 your home to sell your work.
Be creative and happy painting everyone.