"Netflix for Art" service Turning Art gives artists new tools for promoting and selling their work

By Erin Griffith , written on March 15, 2013

From The News Desk

Boston-based Turning Art launched in 2010 to help artists' work reach more people through its subscription service. Now, with a host of new functionalities, the service aims to help artists better manage the business side of their work.

The tools include an artist dashboard, which allows anyone renting their work on the site to see analytics on views, likes and orders by region. There is a giving program which allows artists to gift three-month subscriptions to Turning Art to their supportors. And there are the merchant capabilities, which allows Turning Art artists to sell their work to anyone through the site, regardless of whether that person subscribes. This way artists don't need to set up their own ecommerce platform to sell art online.

This is essentially another example of the web taking out the middle man in transactions. Now anyone can become a powerful writer (in theory) with nothing but a Wordpress blog, glossy magazines be damned. And anyone promote themselves directly to fans via Twitter or Facebook without buying advertising or hiring an expensive publicist. Musicians like Amanda Palmer can finance their albums directly to their fans via Kickstarter without using a major label. Startups can raise capital on AngelList without hunting down investors. And so on, and so on.

That's begun to seep into the art world, too. The "art to the people" ecommerce site 20x200 was popular because it allowed artists to sell more prints of their work at affordable price points. Unfortunately the site is currently in a state of limbo due to investor disagreements over its future.

Turning Art can fill the void in a different capacity, says founder Jason Gracilieri. He started the company, his third, after noting the unique issues his wife faced as a painter and former gallery owner. (Previously Gracilieri founded social network and data software company Applied Reason and Technology.)

In an effort to be as artist-friendly as possible, Turning Art charges the artists nothing to get involve and takes just 10 percent of revenue on sales and rentals. "Artists are obviously looking for financial help -- they'd all love to be artists full time," he says. "The other thing they are looking for is the psychic rewards, knowing where your work is." That's what Turning Art's analytics and artist tools aim to provide.

The subscription business itself starts at $10 per month and comes with a custom frame. Rentals turn into credits which can be converted into full-on purchases of art. It's not the first to try out the concept: Rise Art in the UK and Artsicle in the US both offer art rental services. Turning Art is available in 48 states.

Turning Art has raised more than $2 million from NextView Ventures and angel investors.

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