Who Benefits from Reselling Art Online?

by Corinna Kirsch on September 10, 2013 · 1 comment Opinion

Mat Collishaw, "Prosopopoeia," edition of 7,500. Courtesy Sedition.

Sedition, a digital art edition site launched in January 2013, just added a new feature. Now, users can resell works previously purchased on the site, and that are now sold out. Fashioned similarly to eBay, Sedition’s marketplace also lets you resell your edition through open bids. While online edition companies have the potential to grow a market for digital art, we’re wary of this practice—how can reselling a work just months after purchase benefit an artist’s career?

Well, the quick answer is that it doesn’t. It implies that at the end of a season, art can be easily disposed of, and traded in for a newer model. Like cars, the value of an object doesn’t increase immediately once it’s driven off the lot. In fact, the only time I can imagine rapid-flipping ever works is when there’s an inflated, seasonal demand—think Tickle Me Elmo.

So far there’s only two works listed on Sedition for resale—the site’s trading feature only launched this week. Potential buyers can bid up to £1 more than the current price of the artwork. On Monday, Mat Collishaw’s Prosopopoeia was listed at £100. Buyers could propose to purchase it for as little as £101; in response the seller could choose to accept or decline the bid.

That points to one possibly encouraging element of Sedition’s trading marketplace. Allowing its users to resell artworks of their own accord cultivates an active collector base. Perhaps, if there’s enough of these newbie collectors, eventually they’ll form a community of like-minded collectors of digital art.

But all that might be a distant dream. Right now, the speed at which Sedition encourages collectors to cycle through art hardly helps encourage a long-term commitment from collectors; art can be bought on a whim, and sold just as swiftly. It’s hard enough as it is to foster a primary market for digital art, and at this rate, it’s untenable to encourage a secondary market that wants a quick flip.

  • Gina Diaz

    But when an artwork is resold, the artist gets nothing out of his own artwork isn’t it? The seller who owns it can mark a higher price than he originally purchased the artwork. Then it would not be fair for the artist. isn’t it?

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