Online art marketplace bluethumb has already helped change the landscape of the art market in Australia and is now taking on the establishment further with a groundbreaking art prize.
“We had to disrupt and innovate the whole art buying system,” says cofounder and managing director Edward Hartley. “When you’re the first to market you need to solve a vast number of problems, shift perceptions, develop new technology, and build an entire marketplace with limited resources. It’s taken years of hard work, which is now really paying off, so we’re investing this success back into our artists with the art prize. We’ve created a new platform and way of running an art prize that keeps administration costs minimal. We’re keen to share this technology with the industry.”
Unlike other art prizes, the bluethumb Art Prize is free to enter, submissions are online, the artists can change their artwork at any time before entries close and the art is for sale throughout so doesn’t prohibit artists from making money. With over 850 submissions so far, there are already more entrants than the 2016 Archibald prize.
“Providing free entry removes one of many obstacles artists face when considering entering an Art Prize,” says bluethumb artist and Archibald finalist Kim Leutwyler. “Creating a Bluethumb profile is a no-brainer for any emerging artist who’d like to reach a broad audience and build a community of creators whom they have the option to connect with. There really is no good reason not to enter, so I’m not at all surprised by the fantastic response to the bluethumb Art Prize. “
“bluethumb is comprised of a team that really look after their artists and collectors. They invest in projects to help their artists stretch and grow, and creating an art prize will inevitably attract new talent and showcase emerging artists around Australia. Although there can only be one winner, I’m certain that many artists will benefit monetarily from the Prize by selling pieces to bluethumb’s collector base.”
The winner of the prize will feature in a large marketing campaign and take home $10,000. The eclectic judging panel of 11 includes Penny Griggs, General Manager of SALA (South Australian Living Artists Festival); June Mills, Indigenous music star, visual artist and traditional owner of Larrakia land; and perhaps surprisingly Real Housewives of Melbourne star Gina Liano.
“I’ve had a lifelong love of art which lead me to study and major in visual arts at university,” explains Gina Liano when asked about her credentials. “Whilst law was my preferred profession, being an art curator was my fall back position so I obtained the qualifications necessary. It was also consistent with my love for fashion.”
“Any artist who follows their passion usually starts off exhibiting their talents as a labour of love. Providing the opportunity to support our home grown talent through awarding a financial prize is a wonderful opportunity and encourages artists to pursue their passion. Well done bluethumb! There should be more commercial innovative opportunities for our Australian talent.”
Entries close 30th September. The bluethumb Art Prize is open to all Australian artists. The artwork must be an original listed on bluethumb and in the artist’s signature style. Art lovers can also get involved and have the chance to win $5000 worth of bluethumb art by referring an artist to enter.