Rumor has it that the mother of all online print purveyors is set for a relaunch. 20×200’s Founder and AFC friend Jen Bekman has hinted over twitter that her company may launch soon, though an exact date has not yet been given.
20×200 halted operations last February leaving hundreds of artists without a solid platform through which to sell their work. A banner currently serving as the placeholder for the site, simply reads, “Stay tuned. We’re taking stock and making updates!”
Since that time, the online art industry has continued to expand, only to find itself defined by poor performance. Amazon launched its art section this summer, only to have a cacophony of bad reviews returned. Their biggest blunder seems to be that company has not properly consider provenance, opening the door for abuse by fraud offenders. Another company formed earlier this year, ArtTwo50, claims to be demystifying art, by selling it all for the same price, $250. But they are peddling original work, not editions, so the pricing structure makes even less sense than that of the contemporary art market. That market at least responds to size and color.
Even Crate and Barrel has gotten into the art business. They don’t seem to be aware that the artist’s name should be a selling point though; it’s hidden in a drop down menu.
Meanwhile, print companies set to target the growing number of art fans appear to be struggling. Artstar has laid off staff, and while still in operation, their homepage has been taken over by a haphazard arrangement of press logos and links promoting the services they provide. ArtWeLove, a company that has produced enough prints to host a literal database of images, yet still lacks a search function, hasn’t updated their blog since November 2012. When we asked the site’s Founder Laurence Lafforgue if the site was still in business, she conceded they weren’t very active, but open.
Only Artspace and ExhibitionA, the most art-world centric of the online print edition shops, appear to be doing well, though they aren’t amongst the more democratic sites. ExhibitionA’s price points never dip below $200. Artspace sells prints that will cost as little as $100, but often run much higher.
It is with all this in mind that 20×200’s return may feel particularly sweet to its fans. The site has done a great job at making art accessible, through its buyer-friendly price points, chatty newsletters, and easy to browse categories. (These include landscapes, sports, animals and more. They even have one for gallery goers.) You wouldn’t think all that would be too difficult to replicate, but judging the evidence, it is.