Felix Salmon had lunch with Jen Bekman, the entrepreneur who recently raised a significant amount of money to expand the business, and relates her philosophy:
“I want anyone who’s educated and even remotely affluent to feel self-conscious if they don’t have an art collection that they can talk about,” she says, and to that end she’s selling limited-edition art starting at just $20 for an 8″x10″ C-print in an edition of 200. (Hence the name.)
The editions are limited not because that makes them more likely to rise in value, necessarily, but rather because it helps to infect her buyers with the collector bug: they are incentivized to buy now, before an edition sells out; they get an experience which only a small number of other people will share; and they feel as though they’re part of a select group of people who are supporting a particular artist. […]
Most art doesn’t go up in price, and certainly not small works on paper which, due to the limitations of digital printing, are unlikely to last out the century. The thing I really like about 20×200 is that it’s both elite and accessible: it’s not a free-for-all like art.com, without a curatorial sensibility, but at the same time it’s not a forbidding white cube either.
Jen has a real retail sensibility: she’s got big plans for the post-Thanksgiving rush, and she’s more than happy to recommend prints which go with the sofa. Most art is decorative; there’s no shame in that. She’s not even particularly high-end, as retail goes. She’s just trying to persuade the woman with the $2,000 handbag that $500 is not an excessive amount of money to pay for a print.
Democratizing Art (Felix Salmon)