The art scene in Egypt is brimming over with initiatives and last Thursday saw the launch of the latest addition in the form of the website ArtsMart. Based on a concept from Lina Mowafy and Dina Shaaban, the website aims to create a community where artists and prospective buyers can interact easily without the often rigid rules that established galleries adhere to.
“We had the idea in 2009 to create a space where up and coming artists could display their work, since it is hard to find galleries that will show work of young artists,” Mowafy said. “At the same time it is not easy for interested buyers to find affordable art; many people are looking to find something to hang on their wall but are not in the market to buy investment art.”
ArtsMart is designed to be a meeting point for these two groups and features a wide variety of styles of artwork. Artists can apply to showcase their work on the website and Shaaban and Mowafy act as curators for the collection. “We screen the artwork on artistic value, style and the condition that the work is in, since we only put up the work that we have in our warehouse.”
The team of ArtsMart includes marketing experts Hatem Zaazou, Khalid Ragab and Sherif Fatthalla. “While the artists and their work are the core of our website, the potential buyers are just as important. For ArtsMart to succeed it is important that people know about us and the combined experience of these three men is invaluable.”
Building up a good reputation started long before the website was launched. “In the beginning we had to buy the artwork ourselves, invest in them personally, because the artists did not know us and would not just give us their work to hold for a few years before maybe it would be sold,” Mowafy said.
Mowafy, Shaaban and partners had aimed to sell 10 pieces in the first month of operations but reached this target within the first few days that the website was live. “We were worried that maybe we would not be able to meet the demand if the site would prove to be a success, but we have been contacted by a lot of artists that would like to display their work on our site,” Mowafy said.
The ArtsMart team also organises street shows where they display the artwork in their collections during events that attract a lot of people but are not traditional places where people can buy art. “The response of the public is encouraging, some paintings are sold on the spot and we have received requests from people a few days after the event,” Mowafy said.
It is possible to commission pieces, “we mediate between the buyer and the artists if they would like to commission a piece, both for private as well as commercial requests,” Mowafy said. “We hope that we can create more work for our artists so eventually they can sustain themselves by doing what they love.”
The artworks are shipped worldwide and they include a return policy if the artwork upon arrival is not what the buyer had hoped for, provided it is returned in perfect condition.