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Questions to a founder : Artdeo

While the majority of photo tech companies are trying to figure out how to monetize UGC, Pierre Pankotay, founder and ceo of Artdeo, is bringing the art world online. Traditionally held in galleries and in selective auction houses, the purchasing of fine art photography prints has been a rather closed doors operation . Artdeo plans to break open those doors and give everyone a chance to purchase and invest in the photographic world. With some photos selling above $4 million, Artdeo might become a quite lucrative platform. We caught up with Pierre Pankotay to learn more.

but first, a brief explanation of how Artdeo works :

What is Artdeo story? Why did you create it ?

After 25 years spent in the photojournalism field, I have seen the market vanish and editorial photos prices going down. Then it was the turn for the stock photos market, going from Right Managed to Royalty Free then Micro Stock and finally to a market of almost Free photos today.

Pierre Pankotay, Founder and Ceo of Artdeo
Pierre Pankotay, Founder and Ceo of Artdeo

On the other hand, hundreds of websites are selling prints as posters for few bucks, even some trendy shops sell limited edition prints of 500 up to 1000 copies, not signed, not controlled by the artists. At the same time, I have been invited to photo exhibition premieres all around the world without the possibility of viewing them. There isn’t any access to even view the photo exhibitions online. So I was obliged to go to each photographer’s professional website to see exhibitions, and I realized that 99% of exhibiting photographers were only listing their exhibitions with dates and place, without showing any photos, nor the possibility to purchase online.

This reality shocked me and thus Artdeo was born…….

How big do you estimate the market for Art photography ?

Even if Art photography revenues are growing slowly, it is still a large market. Photography is a quite recent Art, and is more accessible compared to painting or sculpture. According to a recent survey about auctions. The Art Photography represented only 1.5% last year of all Arts revenues and 4.3% of all sales in volume which means that Photography is quite an accessible Art. People are more and more visually-educated and sensitive to photographic Art.

This photograph called “Rhein II” by photographer Andreas Gursky sold for $4, 338.500 in 2011.

 Who do you serve first, the photographers , the gallery or the buyers ?

For the moment, Artdeo only addresses the needs of Exhibiting photographers and buyers only. We consider both at the same level. One can’t go without the other. With Artdeo we offer them a platform to meet together and transact.

There is direct contact between the artist and the buyer. Even before purchase, buyers can get in touch with the artist via Artdeo to get more info about an exhibition, a print etc.. For the moment, Galleries do not have access to Artdeo even if some have already contacted us to join because they haven’t found the equivalent marketplace to exhibit their photographers.

We are working on a new feature which will allow galleries the opportunity to market their exhibitions. The big difference with the photographers’ access : they won’t have the possibility to sell on Artdeo because they already take an average of 50% commission. We don’t want to see the exhibition prints market failing like what happened to the editorial and photo stock markets. Exhibition prints have intrinsic value. They usually  go through the hands of a curator, a photo festival, a gallery which bets on the quality of a photographer. We at Artdeo want to respect the market.

Artdeo home page
Artdeo home page
 Talking about buyers, who is your typical buyer ?

Collectors, Art and Photo lovers, corporate companies,  art funds, foundations, investors, museums…those buyers who attend exhibitions and festivals, and want to purchase authentic limited edition prints, signed by the artist.

 Why do the images have to be in a gallery first ?

Artdeo has been built on the concept of the photo exhibitions. To be in Artdeo, a photographer has to exhibit. It can be an upcoming or current exhibition or a past exhibition.

We are presently setting up a team of professionals as a jury to give access to photographers to propose “virtual” exhibitions. They will be able to sell their prints even if the exhibition is not “brick and mortar”. Maybe a good opportunity to be discovered by a festival or a gallery to have a real exhibition.

 You intend to revive the resale right which will give the artist a cut of the  first sale which has all but disappeared in the art market . If you succeed, aren’t you worried about serious backlash from the art market ?

The resale right is the law. When a photo is sold on auction, we know who the seller is, who is the buyer and who’s the artist. On a print ( or any other Art ) resale, the artist has to have his share of the sale, especially when a piece of Art increases in value. Because on Artdeo, it’s possible to resell a print bought on Artdeo, we can easily follow the transactions.

This is why we decided to give the artist the legal portion of the sale.

 Are you competing with or helping galleries/auction houses ?

We are 100% dedicated to the photographers. Some galleries could consider that Artdeo is a competitor. But we are not. We have no exclusivity with any artists, nor any exhibition or photo. In Artdeo, the seller is the artist.

 Talking about auctions which are very popular in the art world, will Artdeo have some ?

We are working on a new feature for our version 2. We will probably start our own auctions ( if the artist agrees ) on a regular basis, for the very last prints of a limited edition.

 Will you expand on other art form ( paintings, sculptures, etc) or is photography it ?

No, we really want to focus only on photography. This is where we know people, and where people know us. Meanwhile, the application we created for Artdeo could be leased as a platform for someone who’d like to use it for another Art form.

Will you publish an index of photographer’s value so people can track their investment ?

This is also a feature we are currently working on. We are actually determining the algorithm we could use to create the photographer’s value. This is something we have to add quickly to our system which should go live in a year or 2.

 What would you like to offer your clients that technology cannot yet deliver ?

We have a huge wish list, filled with good and bad ideas. Many new features will come soon. But what we’d love to give to the buyers is a making of all available photos with sounds, smells, and a video of what’s going on around the photographer when he decided to shoot.

Author: Paul Melcher

Paul Melcher is the founder of Kaptur. He is an entrepreneur, advisor, consultant with a strong background in licensing, copyright, sales, marketing and technology with more than 20 years experience in developing world-renowned photo based companies with two successful exits. Named one of the “100 most influential people in photography” by American Photo magazine.

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