While art is traditionally purchased in-person, one local gallery has found success by letting people shop from their homes.
This year marks the 35th year of Leighton Art Centre’s clothesline art sale, but the online version began in 2020 when the centre had to be closed to the public amidst gathering restrictions.
Since then, the online sale — which runs until the end of June — has found popularity, inviting shoppers to “grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and shop unframed artworks created by some of our most talented member artists.”
Amanda MacKay, director of marketing and communications at the centre, says customers embraced the idea of purchasing art online when the sale launched during lockdown.
“We also found that some people said, ‘normally I would travel, travel’s the thing I love to do, and I can’t travel right now. So instead, I’m spending some money supporting local artists and making my home a place I feel really happy to be, because right now, it’s the only place I can be.”
The centre also learned that there are many people interested in purchasing art who do not live close by and need a remote option.
“We have the ability to get our art seen by people who are across Canada,” MacKay says. “We’re able to reach a larger audience.”
MacKay notes customers have also been looking online to see what is available in a sale or exhibition, and then coming in person to take a final look before making their purchase.
“Even for people who are local, if we have a large exhibition or a large sale, it can actually be quite hard to have a really good look at everything,” MacKay says. “So this way, there’s this really great online catalogue.”
Alberta artist Justina Smith is happy to have her art pieces in the sale, adding that it provided an effective alternative when shopping in-person was not possible during COVID and may still be preferred by many customers.
“While it’s not a hundred per cent like seeing it in person, it gives you a very similar idea of what a piece would look like,” Smith says. “It’s really the next best thing.”
MacKay emphasizes the centre believes it is very important to promote Alberta artists.
“We help support them in their careers and their learning and in the arc that they have,” MacKay says.
In this art sale, artists receive 60 per cent of any piece that is sold, and the centre takes a 40 per cent commission.
“The money that we make as a centre off the sale of art, goes back into supporting programming in art and nature for our community,” MacKay explains.