Online Art Dealing: An Insider's Look

Cosmo caught up with Sonali Batra, Founder of greatbanyanart.com, about the trappings of an online-art-gallery owner's life...

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Cosmo: Why is buying art online better than at a physical gallery?

Sonali Batra: "Well, you can view paintings on an online portal without actually gallery-hopping. It's both time and cost efficient. If you like an artwork, you can add it to the enquiry cart, and someone from our gallery will help with more information on the piece before you decide to purchase it. It's all very millennial-appropriate."

Sonali Batra
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C: Is it less expensive than at a gallery?

SB: "For the online gallery, yes. Your fixed costs are significantly reduced."

C: How do you assure a buyer about authenticity?

SB: "We provide every client with an authenticity certificate signed by the gallery and the artist (if they are alive)."

C: For someone looking to get into online art retail, how much could they expect to make?

SB: "It depends on whether it's a commission or consignment revenue model, or if they sell their own collection at a mark-up. The starting salary would be similar to what a graduate would get joining a Big Four corp in India."

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C: And what kind of training do you need?

SB: "No training in specific. Apart from a passion for art (naturalmente), an aesthetic sense and managerial skills helps. People skills are crucial—you're constantly interacting with artists and clients. Plus, an aptitude for social media—your digital presence really matters."

C: Is an online gallery preferable to running a brick-and-mortar one?

SB: "We have the freedom to innovate. Since we're not bound to one physical location, we collaborate with new venues every time we hold our art shows. Plus, we're accessible to clients-—across the globe, 24/7!"

C: How do you select which artists to feature?

SB: "We do detailed research on where the artist has studied, their exhibition history, who collects their works, if they are represented by a gallery, if their works have been sold at an auction house, and most importantly, if their style has a unique language. All of these add value to the artist.

C: What does a day in your life usually entail?

SB: "Partly managing the gallery's existing collection, as well as acquiring new works. We also do private sales and work regularly with auction houses, art dealers, interior designers and collectors. Managing our social media presence is also a major time investment."

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