Art blogs take many forms but Art K. MacGuffin may be the first blog I’ve encountered that uses the blog as a “gallery” for art sales. The items that pop up on their blog are diverse and can range from vintage posters to art works that approach–and sometimes surpass–the $100K mark. From D*Face to Anthony Caro, Art K. MacGuffin offers it all via a free blogspot site–who says a gallery needs overhead?
In addition to the blog, this dynamic crew of aspiring dealers (yes, they are a group) provide their audience with an active Twitter feed to stay abreast of their latest and greatest and an audio podcast available through iTunes.
I met up with Dan, from the Art Macguffin group, both online & offline to chat about this retail experiment and how willing people are to buy art via blog.
Coincidentally, Art K. MacGuffin refers to the term (MacGuffin) popularized by filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock as a “mechanical element that usually crops up in any story. In crook stories it is almost always the necklace and in spy stories it is most always the papers.” (wiki) It was what everyone was after, according to Dan of the Art K. MacGuffin group. “Everyone of us and everyone who is interested in the blog is passionate about art,” Dan explains. “It’s what motivates and drives us all!”
HV.com: So, is your blog your only “sales space”?
Dan of Art K. MacGuffin: Yes, technically the blog is our only space. But, with networking it seems to be all the space I seem to need. I think it’s an excellent way for someone starting off in the art dealing and brokering world. I’ve made great contacts and lots of enthusiastic clients.
Do all the works you post on your blog belong to you? Are some on consignment?
We have an extensive and varied art collection, but we also show lots of work on consignment. We’re able to get our clients great discounts and have the largest possible selection of interesting and important art to show on the blog. Our primary interest is to show the most interesting artworks we can and help those interested in purchasing art to find exactly what fits their needs.
How effective has the online business been? Where is the sweet spot for works online? Under $200, under $500?
The online business has been incredibly effective. More than having a price point that works best for clients to purchase online (if you’ll notice, we don’t accept internet purchases), the site has been incredibly effective in getting “real world” clients. They come to the site, see that we are authorities with great art and they contact us to help them find something perfect for their collections. The works we feature are of course hot topic items, and often move quickly, but the site is more about attracting followers, interested enthusiasts and potential clientele more than about selling each work we feature on the site.
Who is your client base? How would you describe the demographic? Also, any surprised by who they are and what they are interested in purchasing?
The demographic is mostly an educated or “hip” one. Right now, the Brooklyn client base is our strongest, with mostly younger people. However, we do have diverse clients with varied tastes and ranges they are looking to spend.
Is the blog your main source of income?
Yes and No. The site is a collective that is mostly about our enthusiasm for the art. The gallery/art sales are profitable, but most of the profit goes into more art. I personally derive some income from the venture, but I am mostly living on money saved from when I was working in a top position in an Arch. Digest top 100 Interior Design Firm, in charge of all of their Art and Antiques.
I’ve since gone back to graduate school to work on my PhD in Art History (Most of the other Art MacGuffin contributors already have their PhD’s). I’d say that with the site and business right now, we’re more concerned with developing an audience who could be an eventual client base. “Internet Connoisseurship” as a means of educating and showcasing great art to the public is our primary interest.
The works you have on display on your blog is very eclectic? Are you starting to feel a need to specialize or does the internet venue demand that you generalize until you hit onto something that your buyers all love?
Yes, with our various backgrounds, influences, and interests we do show an eclectic mix of things. I don’t feel that we need to specialize at the moment, the audience seems to like how varied the works are. We have been wary of specializing in one particular area, we don’t want to box Art MacGuffin into one specific thing. We’d much rather have a wide variety of great art equally interesting in many different ways. We also like the idea that someone could come to the site looking for something specific that they already know about and see a whole bunch of other different great art. The internet is a diverse place, our viewers are a diverse group, art is an incredibly diverse thing, why would we be anything else?
Have there been any surprises about running an unconventional online gallery?
Yeah, sure. It has been a pleasant surprise how much enthusiasm and encouragement we’ve had from viewers. It was also a great surprise to find out we were recommended by Wooster Collective and a few other really big names.
Do you dream of opening up a physical space at some point? And how did the idea of this actually come about?
Yeah. We most certainly would love to open up a gallery space at some point. I think that if we do, we’ll be sure to keep a strong digital presence though, maybe even more so to make up for customers who can’t come by the space.
The idea was a kind of collaboration of a few people selling some things and interested in other things. We pretty much realized that by showing lots of our art on the site we could pique people’s interest. We also wanted to figure out an alternative to a typical blogspot/wordpress blog. Those types of things can often get too wordy or preachy. We wanted it to be pretty simple and straightforward and fun for us to do. I think things have evolved nicely. We can easily show lots of art without much effort or distracting text, when people want to know more or interact with us they follow along on twitter, check out the podcasts on iTunes or drop us an e-mail.