Today we’re announcing the conclusion of another major chapter of our story of transformation. This new chapter sees Artfinder emerge as a platform providing reputable fine art for a variety of art lovers with different needs and budgets.
The change was prompted by community feedback that led to a realisation: we must ensure customers and artists can genuinely trust the quality of art on offer, that the presentation of artwork needs to meet a minimum level of standard and that artists selling on the site need to be committed in the same way we’re committed to them.
This new chapter is the result of a long journey for Artfinder. In January 2018, we decided to introduce stricter entry criteria for new artists applying to join. In spring 2018, we welcomed our first part-time curator and later that year in October 2018, we appointed our permanent Lead Curator. In February 2019, we established a Curatorial Board consisting of fine art experts from diverse backgrounds. Together with the board we then worked on our first set of Artistic Quality Guidelines. By that time, our application approval rates were reduced from a peak of 95% accepted new artists to just 20%.
At that time we also designed a fair, multi-stage process of artist profile reviewing. The process took into account the quality guidelines, commercial criteria (including sales, customer reviews and return rates) as well as the overall level of presentation of work and appeal of the profile. The process was designed to make sure that any artist profile identified for removal was assessed by at least three individual members of our curatorial team. We have taken steps to ensure that the process was as fair and open as possible, with regular updates sent to the community throughout that time.
We have now completed our year-long review process and have taken action to suspend nearly 2,000 shops which did not meet the review criteria. We would like to stress that suspension of a particular artist’s shop is in no way a judgement of their artistic abilities or potential, their professionalism, or commitment to the discipline of fine art. It is simply a result of a review of the information that we were given at the time.
As a team, we always assess our decisions through the lens of being a B Corp and keeping our own values in mind.
We know that our approach to running an art platform will always be different. We want our community to be diverse and original, yet committed to working with us side by side on transforming the way art is bought and sold.
As a business committed to growth, this is not an easy step for us to take, but one which takes courage. Much easier would have been the route of some other art sites, to accept all and simply not to surface the work of many of those. But that didn’t feel particularly in line with our values or with the business we want to be.
We wanted to do this in a way that’s open and transparent. We informed the community about the rationale behind this review, as well as its criteria and the process itself along the way.
Next, we had to make sure that we acted with decency, meaning that we do not accidentally accept an investment in our upcoming crowdfunding round from those who perhaps are unable to sell through our platform as a result of this review.
Lastly, we wanted to make sure that we do not hit anyone’s earnings in a significant way. This means that we considered the artist's commercial success on Artfinder to date as one of the criteria. Artists leaving our platform at this time represented just 0.3% of our overall sales in the last 3 months, meaning we can be confident that we’re not depriving them of a significant source of income.
This change prepares us for an exciting new chapter. A chapter where we can provide a high quality platform for artists who are with us today, as well as those we aspire to welcome. A platform where all art lovers can purchase great quality artwork, but also one where collectors can find artists who are more established in the art world.
8 June 2020