This CEO is also a customer: An interview with Artfinder's Michal Szczesny
When we received Michal's email asking if we could meet via Skype to talk about working together, we immediately knew two things: 1) we'd enjoy the Artfinder team because we too are 'face-to-face' kind of people and wouldn't want the fact that they're based in London keep us from saying hello. And 2) that we must be doing something right to capture the attention of a fantastic online art marketplace where people can buy art from thousands of artists around the world.
Since forming our partnership with Artfinder, we've spent hours sharing screens and ideas to ensure that together we are creating the most advantageous opportunities for artists.
We've gotten to know Michal pretty well these past several months and thought that you might like a glimpse into the life of a CEO who's also one of Artfinder's most passionate customers.
Here's what he had to say about his work:
1. What brought you to Artfinder and what drives your passion to stay?
I joined Artfinder in January 2013 when it was going through some major changes to its business model. In a way, our direction was still being defined and it was great to be a part of that process. The early days were super exciting and at the same time quite intense, but it was obvious that things had to change.
At that point, we pivoted from a content site providing information about famous artwork, to the first true art marketplace selling original art directly from artists. Our marketplace is now the world’s largest and a place where thousands of artists sell their work each year. Hundreds of those artists are now able to quit their day jobs and make a living from their art, which is what drives my passion to stay.
2. What are the advantages of artists selling their work on an e-commerce platform like yours?
One of the biggest advantages to artists is exposure, that they get instant access to a global audience of more than one million art buyers. We also have a closed forum, where our artists can talk to each other, share ideas and help each other out. We’ve seen a real international support network grow, which I think is invaluable to many in our community who live in remote locations or countries that don’t have access to the same resources that we do here in the UK.
3. On the flip-side, why do people like to buy art online?
I think for many people, galleries can be intimidating places. At the very least, they’re somewhere you would go to look at art rather than buy it. Online, you find a much wider selection of pieces — we currently have 450,000 artworks listed, and starting at $25 — so there really is something to suit every taste and budget. We also make it very easy for the customer, with a 14-day free returns policy and risk-free shopping, you know that your transaction is secure.
New works from Susan Richardson: French Windows and a Frosted Wedding Cake Ceiling, 40” x 42” mixed media on canvas and “Frosted Wedding Cake Ceiling,” 72” x 60” mixed media on canvas
4. Have you purchased any art recently? If so, why do you like it and where do you plan to put it?
Yes! I recently used our commissions service to commission one of our artists, Ewa Czarniecka to paint a memory of my holiday on an island of Fuerteventura in Spain. Me and my husband visited a stunning beach called Cofete. On one side you could see magnificent mountains, on another kilometres of white sand beaches and the Atlantic Ocean.
The piece turned out so much more beautifully than I could have imagined and it now hangs in the reception of my apartment. It transports me to that beautiful serene place every morning, when I pass by. All of my guests comment on it and I’m delighted to have purchased it. It means a lot to me.
5. How have online art sales influenced the art market and how do you see it impacting this market in the future?
The online art market is currently valued at $4.22 billion and is growing quickly. There are also increasingly positive signs amongst young buyers, with the number for those who don’t mind whether they buy online or offline rising to 42% this year, according to the Hiscox Report. This is something we see reflected in our own customers, with our 24–35 year old segment being the fastest growing.
But I think the real opportunity lies in capturing the mass market. We’re tapping into the growing trend of buying directly from the maker, supporting local and independent artists, and in the growing understanding that there is real value to be had in owning something original. And all of this needn’t cost thousands of dollars. That’s the movement we are leading here at Artfinder and it’s an exciting time to be at the helm of that change!