The future of the online art market – Interview with expert Karen Zadra


In this thriving digital age, the online art market is a very good example of a discipline- art- making the most of new technologies to further advance its outreach to the public. Now, more than ever, artists and art lovers alike are able to connect and interact in a global network of online art technology never before experienced.

Today we’re honored to host an interview with expert Karen Zadra, co- founder of our partner itondo, an innovative iOS  art app, and gallery owner of Galerie Zadra, based in Australia and Luxemburg, to answer some common questions about online art and interior design:

Karen Zadra, co-founder of itondo

Karen Zadra, co- founder of itondo.

How big is the online art market globally?

Karen: The 2017 Art Basel report estimates the global online art & antiques trade at $4.9 bn. That’s about 9% of global art and antiques sales for 2016.

TEFAF will be releasing their online art trade report at TEFAF New York next month.

Also, according to the 2016 Hiscox Online Art Trade Report “The online art market has continued to grow strongly (up 24% to $3.27 billion) despite the global art market slowing in 2015.”

What is the future of the online art market?

Karen: We believe the future of the online art market is huge. Many buyers do much of their research online, whether that is through traditional gallery and artist websites, online marketplaces, art portals, news sources or social media.

SpARTakos on itondo art app

Waves by SpARTakos on itondo

Art buyers big and small are connected 24/7, so it’s only logical that looking at and buying art online becomes a part of their daily online habits. A large amount of retail – including luxury – is also moving online.

 What are the art market trends online? What kind of art sells the most?

Karen: The biggest new trend is augmented reality. Facebook, Apple and Google have all invested heavily – as have we with itondo. The advantages of augmented reality for the art market are very clear and powerful. Art sellers and buyers are able to accurately visualise artwork to scale before they buy.

Secondly, it has become important for artists and galleries to develop a multi-channel online presence, and that these channels are mobile-optimised. A growing number of people are accessing information via smart phone, so art websites and blog platforms  need to conform to these technical requirements.

Apps (like itondo) and social media are also important and are a great way for collectors to discover new artists. Even auctions are registering more online bids than previously.

Post-war and contemporary art make up just over 50% of art sales (Art Basel report). The most popular art form is painting, followed by prints, drawings, photographs and new media (Hiscox). The most popular price range is between EUR1,000 – 50,000.

Are people comfortable buying art online yet?

Karen: People are becoming more and more confident buying online. The figures released by Art Basel and Hiscox clearly demonstrate this. We believe that as more people become comfortable with shopping online (which is happening rapidly), this will translate to higher purchases of art online.

SpARTakos on itondo art app

The SpARTakos profile on itondo

 Could you give us some tips on art collecting on a budget?

Karen: · Always buy what you love and never spend more than you can afford!! Your budget should include any shipping and framing costs, too.

· Buying direct from independent artists is a great way to find art at affordable prices because artists usually don’t carry the same high overheads (like gallery rent and staffing) as a commercial gallery. Buying direct from an artist may also open the door to an ongoing connection with the artist. It’s very exciting to watch an artist develop over the years.

· If you find a piece you love and you want to be really sure how it will look in your own space, ask the seller to upload it to itondo.

SpARTakos on itondo art app

The Gold of Ierissos by SpARTakos on itondo

· Do lots of research before you buy so you know what’s available and at what prices. Visit art fairs aimed at new/young collectors, like the Affordable Art Fair, Liste and a host of other smaller independent local fairs. This will give you a clearer idea of what you love and what you’re willing and able to spend.

· Buyers need to make sure that they’re dealing with a reputable seller and to understand if there is a refund policy; that goes for dealing with galleries, too.

 Is it wise to invest in emerging artists online?

Karen: The internet is a great way to find emerging artists. Just do a bit of homework on how trustworthy they are before you hand over any money. Try doing some searches on their name to see if you can find any reviews or listings of their work on reputable sites.

How should an art buyer choose art for a particular space?

Karen: Some people buy art simply because they love it and they worry about where to put it once they get it home. These buyers buy from the heart and are, relatively speaking, rare.

For the majority of buyers, how a piece fits with the overall look of a room is important. In that case, consider the wall colour, lighting, furniture style and colours, and whether you want a statement piece or something more subtle.

Morning Glory, SpARTakos,2014

Morning Glory, SpARTakos, 2014

Always consider the size of the piece because a large work can be a problem if it turns out it’s too big and you have nowhere to store it. Using a cutting-edge app like itondo can help – which is also what we know from our app user feedback. If you’re buying online, ask the seller to confirm the dimensions of the piece.

If you are buying for an area where there is high traffic, think about whether it is likely to be accidently knocked as people move past or throw their coat on.

Also consider if sunlight will fall directly onto the work. Sunlight is very damaging for any work on paper (including watercolours, prints, photographs and digital prints) and paintings. Never install valuable artwork above a radiator, fireplace or air conditioner.

 How do we accentuate a work of art in a space in terms of light and decoration?

 Karen: If you want your artwork to take centre stage, try bright, bold work if your environment if fairly neutral. Consider picking a couple of colours from the work to use as accent colours for cushions, curtains and rugs as this will connect the room to the art.

Pussy flower by SpARTakos

Or if your furniture is highly patterned and colourful, consider monochrome artwork (that doesn’t mean only black and white!). For a dynamic effect, select one or two complimentary colours to your colour scheme. For example, if your room is mostly green, buy work that has strong red accents. But if you want a more serene environment, choose artwork that is close in colour to the main colour of your room.

Think about where people normally sit in the room and then place the work at the centre point of that area.

Framing can have a big impact on a work, so always use a reputable framer who can advise you on the most suitable frame for the work and your budget. If you want to create a sense of drama, arrange your lighting so that the main lighting is on the artwork, with softer lighting near sofas and tables.

One final point: most people hang their artwork too high, which only makes the ceilings look lower. Most galleries hang a work so the horizontal centre is at 150 cm or 160 cm, depending on the height of the wall and the inhabitants. This measurements ensures that the middle of the work falls comfortably at eye level. Be sure to take into account any chairs or sofas under the artwork; you may need to allow for a bit of headroom so people don’t lean against it.

 What is itondo and how does it work?

Karen: itondo is a new mobile app that is powered by augmented reality. It’s free to download from the App Store. itondo lets art buyers anywhere in the world see what an artwork will look like on their wall before they buy. The work is displayed to scale on an iPad or iPhone screen, and the app user is free to move around the room to see the art from different angles.

itondo iOS app

The itondo app in action

itondo also allows the buyer to take a photo of the virtual installation which can then be shared. Taking a photo in “Live” previewing mode also saves a blank wall to the app’s Backgrounds folder so a buyer can then try art on their saved walls, anywhere, anytime. This “Backgrounds” function is handy for when they’re visiting an artists’ studio or an art fair, or are relaxing with a coffee.

 What is the art experience itondo provides to its user?

Karen: When you can’t trial the real piece at home, itondo is the closest you’ll come to that real life experience. itondo gives a buyer peace of mind that the piece they’ve chosen is the right size and style for their particular space.

itondo iOS app

User experience on the itondo app

The majority of generic “view on a wall” apps or art sites can only give a vague sense of scale; they don’t help the buyer see the piece in their own space with their own furnishings, at different angles and distances. itondo is all about personalising the art buying experience, whether it’s online or in person.

 Who are the artists represented by itondo? How are they selected?

Karen: itondo is a young curated platform with a growing number of independent artists. These artists are based around the world, including the Netherlands, UK, USA, Switzerland, Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, Australia and Afghanistan.

SpARTakos on itondo art app

The Parthenon on Fire by SpARTakos on itondo

We look for emerging and established artists who produce original work of a high standard, across different media, styles, subjects and price ranges. We also expect artists to be professional in their approach to their art practice. We don’t take hobby artists.

 What are your plans for the future?

Karen: itondo is very much about bringing art and art lovers together through technology. We’re very excited about the future of itondo and the certainty augmented reality offers to both sellers and buyers of art. We want to create an ‘itondo world’ where not being able to see a work in person is no longer an obstacle to buying. For us, living with original art is one of life’s greatest pleasures and we hope itondo will bring that joy into people’s homes and hearts, too.

We warmly give our thanks to Karen Zadra for taking the time to make this interview happen and hope we’ve been of help to you, our readers.

Why don’t you drop us a line and give your views on what the online art market might look like in a few years from now? We’d love to hear from you.

Stay curious!

The SpARTakos web team


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