Buying and selling art: an interview with Artplode

Artplode art categories

What makes a good art work? “It makes you feel something. An emotional connection.” This is what it all comes down to for Maureen McCarthy. She has about 20 years experience working with art, worldwide. She was an agent for the John Lennon Estate and dealt for millions in “very high-end art, the great masters.” And now she uses her immense experience for Artplode: her brand new website where art is sought, bought and sold. I get to ask her all about it when she calls me from the UK! 

McCarthy: “The aimed group of Artplode was private art collectors. Auction houses have high commissions, the only other options are selling to other private collectors or on e-Bay. But unexpectedly, most of our sellers at Artplode are artists themselves! Many artists like the traditional way of having a prestigious gallery representing them. Taking away the pressure of the commercial side. But they often have no choice, because there just aren’t enough galleries to represent all artists. We fill the hole in the market for art sellers.”

Barry Scharf - Abstract Number 24

Barry Scharf – Abstract Number 24

Choice and price of art

There’s a lot of art offered on Artplode. One of the things I notice looking on the website is the Gay & Lesbian Art category. McCarthy: “Well, we found that some gay & lesbian artists want to profile their art as such, because their works reflect themselves or they want to make a point. Artists can put their own art online. They choose in which category they want their art to be in. I think Artplode is unique in offering this category.” I also find categories like Chinese art, Russian art and Aboriginal art, all next to each other. Sculpting, painting, digital art and photography, it’s all there. Great, but how to choose anything?

How to spot a great deal

If you are not extremely experienced in the art bizz, how can you spot a great deal? According to McCarthy, you will have to get yourself familiar with the art you are interested in. “If you want to buy art, inform yourself about the artist and dealer. How long have they been selling? Or been an artist? How many exhibitions have they done, which philosophies do they have: the more information, the better. You don’t go into the first shop to buy a car either! You buy something that you want to be part of your life. It’s a very emotional purchase. So do some research.”

If you want to buy art,

inform yourself about the artist and dealer

What’s more, McCarthy says, it is not easy to spot the deals that are going to make you profit in the future. She believes you should not even buy art with that primary premise. “So much is fashion, out of the artists’ control. It’s difficult to predict what is going to be popular in the future. There are no guarantees anymore. Just buy art that you like, you know?” So if you’re in the game for the money, think twice: art might not always result in a fatter wallet. But who cares anyway, with so much prettiness for sale?

Juggling for a hostile audience Michael Forbes

Michael Forbes I Juggling for a hostile audience

Talking about money, what range should I think at Artplode? “I think the average is about 10.000 dollars,” McCarthy says. “The lowest is about 1.000 dollars, and there are quite some works for under 5.000 dollars.” For about 10.000 dollars there’s an Andy Warhol for sale, but also one for 126.000 dollars. The most costly thing right now is suite of Bag One lithographs by John Lennon for 185.000 dollars. But really, there are many great paintings between 1.000 and 5.000 dollars. For the above painting by Michael Forbes, for example, 1.850 pounds is asked. Gets you an original piece that you’re gonna keep for a long time. Not shocking, is it?

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