The growing middle class and wealth of China has created a boom in the art market for both collection and investment. Forbes reported that in 2011, annual sales reached $4.8B, making up 41% of the global turnover. In fact, more paintings sold above $1M in China than U.S. and the U.K and last year, six of the world best-selling artists were Chinese painters compared to only one, three year’s ago. Like nearly every other industry, China is creating pools of huge opportunity for artists, designers and collectors alike.
One Beijing based tech start-up called Yizzu.com is taking advantage of this new and booming opportunity but democratizing art for the masses. In short, YIZZU is a platform for Chinese artists to showcase their artwork online and allow people to purchase re-prints for a few hundred yuan, compared to buying an original painting for thousands of yuan. This innovative concept gives many more people who can’t afford expensive paintings to still enjoy beautiful artwork and allows artists to connect with more people who appreciate their work. Currently the site already has more than 450 artworks for more than 100 members who registered and about 10 of them have a very good reputation or famous.
I’m proud to say the Co-Founder and Frenchman Lionel Beilin is a fellow in this year’s Start-up Leadership Program in the Beijing Chapter. Yizzu follows other art focused start-ups like New York based Art.sy which raised $6M Series A from Peter Thiel and Wendi Murdoch to index famous artwork that normally sits in galleries and put it online. At a recent SLP class Lionel showed us a framed piece of art and I was impressed by the quality and it hit me that it is a brilliant idea.
To find out more about Yizzu, here’s an interview with Lionel.
What is YIZZU?
YIZZU is a community of artists of all kind, we have famous name registering on our website as well as anonymous person. But more specifically YIZZU is an Artist SNS combined with an Art print on demand platform, means that is a place where you can purchase Artprints of our members ‘artworks and interact with them as well. With such a combination YIZZU aims mainly to help artist to promote their name and their work to a large audience and YIZZU aims in the meantime to allow middle class to have access to artwork in a derivative form and for an affordable price.
How did you come up with the idea?
YIZZU’s concept grew up in my mind like a solution to help the one I used to be, the one I could have become. When I was younger, I used to draw a lot and spend all my pocket money in art books and art stuff but then I was told that the right way to go was to follow
economy and management studies and I just obeyed. And with this right way I end up working in real estate, making good money, having some success at some point, but I had no passion doing my job, wasn’t feeling free and happy. So I questioned myself about what I was really wanted to do and be. I guess that with YIZZU I found a way to protect the artist I was, help the artist I could have become to be more successful and satisfy what remains from my passion for art by finding a way to purchase artworks for affordable price.
How does YIZZU work?
On YIZZU members can exhibit their work, get promoted, buy or sell artworks and interact with each other.
We curate best artworks of the website on our main pages, but the point with YIZZU is that any rtist who wants to sell art prints of his original, just have to upload a large size picture of his work and set his own price for each paper and size of print he want to sell. Then we take care of all the rest: as soon as a purchase is made we collect the artist share, produce the high quality prints (quality is at least as good as galleries and museum) and send it to the buyer. Then each month we send his profits to the artist via Alipay.
On YIZZU artists can also sell their original, in such a case a large size picture of their work is not required, they just have to set up the price of the original and its description, then if any buyer is interested, artists will received an email from YIZZU with contact details of the potential buyer, and then they just have to close the deal directly with the potential buyer. For now we don’t interfere more than that for the selling of original works, but we plan to be more active later on as it is an extendable part of our business model.
About interaction between members it is mainly the possibility for artists to support each other and the possibility to collect each other’s work. Supporting an other artist allow to follow most recent artwork submission or collection of this supported artist. And collecting an artwork allow to accumulate on a page artworks that you like and eventually get monetary rewarded if an
artwork that you did collect is purchased by another person from your collection page.
What is the business model?
We earn money with the selling of art prints. The price of an art print has 3 components:
1. The artist margin: this is the price that the artist set up when he upload his artwork and this price is limited to 3x the base price
2. The base price: this is an irreducible price composed by our production costs, YIZZU’s margin and 10% of the total base price that depending on the case will become a reward for collectors and sharer or a bonus for artist.
3. The 10% reward: on YIZZU we track where our buyers come from.
If you are a member of YIZZU and use our sharing tools to post an artist artwork on Weibo, one of your Weibo follower see it, like it, click it, land on YIZZU and contemplate it. If in the next 48 hours he buys it we then consider that we made a sale thanks to your
sharing on Weibo. In such a case we reward you with a 10% reward of the base price. This is also the case if the buyer comes directly from your collection page on YIZZU.
The 10% bonus: In case there is no collector or sharer member bringing us a buyer we remit the 10% to the artist as a bonus.
We believe that with our 10% system, people will virally share YIZZU artworks on their SNS profiles. This part of our business model is a real market strategy in itself.
What are you looking for?
We are looking for more artists, more visitors and increasing sales for sure, but we want to be able to control our growth, so we will be very careful with the marketing we will do because we want to avoid a situation where we could receive more order than our production capacity. So we have to develop our production capacity first. For this we need more investment.
Investment will be use as well to develop new art derivative products (like art print on cloth or phone case) and new features for YIZZU. But mainly and above all we are looking for investment to develop sales and marketing.