The fine line between high tech and fine art

This week our team examined a month’s worth of customer comments. Although there was feedback regarding our recent site improvements, the vast majority of customer comments were rave reviews about the artwork itself, i.e. the images hanging in their homes. We were touched by the positive connections our customers have with their new artwork.

Over ten years in the art business has taught Gallery Direct many things. A decade ago, we participated in national art shows (called trade shows). These are exhibits where art companies show their stuff, are forced to socialize with their competitors, and pretend to like them. We quickly learned everything we needed to know. First, the mien of the industry players was something we found off-putting. A lot of snobbery and tony fronts abound in the art world. Second, not one of the players is what we would call business-minded. These were two traits we didn’t feel like emulating, so we bounced from the trade show commitment.

Any business person knows: you have to work for your supper. It wasn’t hard to figure out the other established fine art publishers were not doing so. Instead, they were in the business of selling a positive illusion to the end consumer, and the price of the illusion was steep. Traditionally speaking, an art publisher signs artists, releases and markets the artists’ work. But who’s printing it? Who’s framing it? Not the publisher. Outside vendors are handling the manufacturing. With every layer, channel or hand in the pot the cost of the artwork goes up and up. So, having fine art limited editions on the wall was cost prohibitive to most Americans. This didn’t sit well with us.

We quickly moved to be a vertically integrated solution for art lovers, handling artist and art acquisition, scanning, printing, framing, and marketing. Since this became our business model, we took it one step further. Why not offer customization of each image and on the fly? Moreover, vertical integration means we were also able to react to the changes in home fashion faster than any fine art publisher in the world.

- Reacting to the market on a macro-level, finding artwork and directing artists to meet the needs of the ever-changing trends in color and home fashion.
- Interacting with the end user, the customer, on a micro-level, via our website with all its customization features.

There is no one offering what we offer, anywhere in the world. We are thankful our customers love their new artwork, but the price is the reason it hangs on their walls. Before Gallery Direct moved to vertical integration, our artwork was selling for 6 to 9 times more than it is today. Sad, but true story.

The artwork of Gallery Direct is 100% created by artists and photographers and 100% recreated by our staff using technology that is off the hook. To this very day, when I walk through the facility, I say to myself, “DAYUM! That’s a lot of high-tech equipment.” The folks running the technology, recreating the art, framing each image, and sending it out our back door work in a series of independent cells. It looks reminiscent of the Paper Street House in the movie Fight Club. We invested millions in this technology to produce world class fine art, not junk, not posters. We make real art at an affordable price, eons away from the ersatz snobbery of the past.

While we’re all used to the “Designed in California” “Assembled in China” messaging of Apple, which is an attempt to make you feel better about a foreign made product. Nice try. Understand this: our artwork is designed all over the globe, customized by you and assembled in Austin, Texas. You can feel awesome about that. We do.

Thanks again to everyone loving their new artwork and passing the positive feedback our way. We are nothing without our customers.

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