Online Art Gallery

Recently I was approached by Jennifer Reynolds from StateoftheArt online art gallery with the view of a meeting. I must say at that point I had never heard of this business venture and my interest was piqued. We met for a coffee and to say that she managed to catch my attention is an understatement. She markets her business with a strong passion for Art, bringing a somewhat unique flavour along with it.

Jennifer Reynolds of
Perseverance by Mila Posthumus

Q: Tell us more about the concept of…

A: I’m passionate about art and believe that art is an important and fundamental part of our society. Living with art and engaging with artists should be accessible to everyone, no matter what their budget. Physical gallery spaces incur overheads which mean that genuinely talented but undiscovered artists are rarely given a voice. I wanted to create a launch pad for these artists and provide them with a platform from which to earn a living while pursuing their creative vision. We showcase and sell works by fine arts graduates and emerging contemporary artists from around South Africa.  I see StateoftheArt as adding a new dimension to the current art-buying experience, opening the art world to people who in the past may have had limited opportunity to purchase and collect art – and because of our low commission rate, we are able to offer customers the opportunity to buy contemporary art – rather than commercial artwork from decor shops – at affordable prices.

Last year we launched Collectors Resale, an online secondary art market for art enthusiasts wishing to divest works from their private collections.

Conversations With My Dog by Sue Kaplan

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you get involved in the art scene?

A: Having spent 18 years working for the number one financial news and information vendor in both South Africa and Europe, I was ready for a new challenge outside of the financial markets, and decided to use my savings to start my own business. Living in London I’d been used to shopping online for all kinds of products, including art.  Research showed that while there are many online art buying sites out there, few have strict quality controls, and none focused on South African fine arts graduates. I saw a gap between consumers’ desire to own affordable contemporary art and the need of local artists to make a living.

Bianca’s Hands III by Mila Posthumus

Q: Explain to us the StateoftheArt selection process and Curatorial Panel…

A: StateoftheArt is the only online gallery in South Africa to have a curatorial panel. The Curatorial Panel comprises six art professionals from around the country. We have a democratic selection process – the panel review the submitted applications then vote for the artists they would like to see represented in the gallery.  The panel carefully research each artist prior to inclusion to maintain a consistently high level of quality. They look for a combination of technical skill and unique style – and of course commitment – that they’re an artist by birth, not by choice.

Carousel of Extinction I by Danelle Malan

Q: What support do you offer the represented fledgling artists?

A: StateoftheArt’s commitment to it’s artists goes beyond simply posting their work online. We promote their work through a service called Art Specifier – an art discovery tool for the hospitality and design industry, as well as the corporate world (we recently completed an artwork refurbishment project for Pricewaterhouse Coopers at Century City placing over 130 works by our artists). We also spend a great deal of time marketing our artists to collectors, as well as through the media. Our recently introduced ‘Guest Curator’ series is an exciting promotional opportunity for the artists whose works are chosen for the curated collection. The series aims to help our customers build and shape their own art collections by exposing them to the insights of top tastemakers; people who have influenced culture through their ideas, words, art or business.

Untitled XIV Sea Point Promenade by Tarjei Langeland

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?

A: Nothing beats the excitement of placing an artwork with a novice collector and receiving emails of appreciation from our customers. You CAN buy an original contemporary artwork for less than the cost of a visit to the hairdresser!

Q: What inspires you?

A: The creativity and design coming out of South Africa and local contemporary art – it’s incredibly exciting, it’s intellectual and it’s relevant to our generation.

Q: And your personal taste in Art – is there a certain style or artist you are drawn to?

A: I have a very eclectic taste in art but I like to focus on young talent and emerging local artists. And I’m drawn to the whole graffiti/street art movement – Faith 47 and Freddy Sam – we have an amazing public ‘gallery’ on the streets of Cape Town.

{click on images below to enlarge}

Q: Share with us, in your opinion, a few names of emerging South African artists we should be watching…

A: Adolf Tega, land artist Janet Botes (her nature-inspired Nuances works are sublime), Sophie Peters, Floris van Zyl, recent Michaelis graduate Liffey Speller, Jimmy Law, art photographer Yolanda van der Mescht, the list could go on and on…

Q: What do you have on your bedside table at the moment?

A: A book on the Okovango Delta (Okovango Journey by Robyn Keene-Young) as my partner and I are embarking on a long anticipated holiday to Botswana next month

Wilde Bergroos by Lizelle Kruger

Q:  What is your vision for StateoftheArt going forward?  Kinda like the proverbial ‘5 year plan’!

A: To include a physical space – a working building with a gallery, office space and artist’s studios. To continue to provide an online platform for artists to earn a living and pursue their artistic vision and creative careers without needing to supplement their income via other non-creative avenues. I expect to see a lot more growth on the web and through Tablets and Smartphones from people, especially younger collectors, who historically haven’t purchased from galleries in the past. Today’s collectors can learn about an artwork online or through a social network, see it and then buy it – all with a few flicks of the wrist. I see StateoftheArt Online Gallery becoming a key resource for an art collector beyond the usual venues such as galleries, auctions and art fairs.


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