I Downloaded “Tinder for Art” and Haven’t Found Love Yet

by Michael Anthony Farley on July 8, 2016 Newswire + Reviews


I decided to test drive the much-discussed art purchasing app Wydr today. It’s been described as “Tinder for art,” which is a little misleading. Basically, it’s more of a shopping app than a social networking platform. You can swipe right to favorite an artwork, or left to say “not my type.” If something catches your eye, you can tap on the work, see the artist’s name and purchase information, and add it to your shopping basket. For the past hour or so, I’ve been doing a lot of swiping left.

That might have something to do with the app’s relatively few participants (when I installed the app a few hours ago, only 500 people had downloaded it from the Android Marketplace). Those artists who are using it overwhelmingly favor hotel lobby crapstraction. A cruel irony of seeking out art online: 2D media such as painting tends to dominate, but a tiny screen is the worst possible way to experience paintings, with a handful of memorable exceptions.

In the past few years, we’ve seen the rise of online auction site Paddle8, the launch of smartphone app/display device Electric Objects, and heard way too much about how Instagram is helping artists self-promote and cut out gallerist middlemen to reach collectors. Do we really need another “disruptive” technology for distributing art? What sets the latter two above examples apart is a degree of interactivity and online community-building between users. Wydr doesn’t quite offer much in the way of discourse beyond the option to “like” or “purchase” an artwork—it’s a distillation to the most base forms of interacting with artwork.

Perhaps Wydr will evolve and become a better time-killer as more users join or some sort of curatorial intervention is brought in for quality control. I’ve found a few pieces I like, such as Matthew Sweesy’s “The Bather” (below) available for €1,496 ($1,652.33 US). And Wydr’s business model is a pretty good deal for artists—the Swiss company reimburses sellers for shipping, takes a mere 30% commission for original works, and offers digital reproductions for a 50-50 split. Matthew Sweesy

But if you’re coming to Wydr with the expectation of falling in love with new art, don’t hold your breath. The pickings are pretty slim. And so far, it appears there’s no option to send/receive dick pics. Using Wydr in public as a pick-up strategy, however, is a decidedly less creepy conversation-starter than sitting by yourself at a bar and repeatedly swiping right on Tinder.

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