Online art sales thrive alongside in-person event
While art is traditionally purchased in person, a local gallery has succeeded in allowing people to shop from home.
This year marks the 35th year of the Leighton Art Centre’s clothesline art sale, but the online version began in 2020 when the center had to be closed to the public due to gathering restrictions.
Since then, the online sale – which runs until the end of June – has grown in popularity, inviting buyers to “have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and purchase unframed works of art created by some of our most talented member artists”.
Amanda MacKay, director of marketing and communications at the centre, says customers embraced the idea of buying art online when the sale launched during the lockdown.
“We also found that some people were saying, ‘normally I would travel, traveling is the thing I like to do and I can’t travel at the moment. Instead, I spend money supporting local artists and making my home a place where I feel truly happy to be, because right now it’s the only place I can be.
The center has also learned that many people interested in buying art do not live nearby and need a remote option.
“We have the ability to bring our art to people across Canada,” says MacKay. “We are able to reach a wider audience.”
MacKay notes that customers also searched online to see what’s available at a sale or exhibit, then showed up in person to take a last look before making their purchase.
“Even for the locals, if we’re having a big show or a big sale, it can actually be quite difficult to get a really good overview of everything,” MacKay says. “So that way there’s this really awesome online catalog.”
Alberta artist Justina Smith is happy to have her artwork on sale, adding that it provided an effective alternative when in-person shopping was not possible during COVID and may still be preferred by many customers.
“While it’s not a hundred percent like seeing it in person, it gives you a very similar idea of what a room would look like,” Smith says. “It really is the best thing to do.”
MacKay says the center believes it’s very important to promote Alberta artists.
“We help support them in their careers and their learning and in the arc that they have,” says MacKay.
In this art sale, artists receive 60% of any piece sold, and the center takes a 40% commission.
“The money we make as a center from the sale of artwork goes to support arts and nature programming for our community,” says MacKay.
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