20×200, a New York City-based startup that aims to help consumers cover their walls with unique art at an affordable price, is passing the five-year mark this week, and announced it has sold over 180,000 prints to date. The company is on track for $7 million in revenue in 2012, and has tripled its customer base since 2010. Backed by $2.8 million in funding from True Ventures, 20×200 has been able to bring art and technology together to prove it’s a profitable combination.
Prior to starting 20×200, c0-founder Jen Bekman launched her own gallery in 2003, and soon realized that people still felt uncomfortable about purchasing high-end pieces but would be willing to give high-quality prints at low-prices a shot. 20×200 now works with more than 280 artists, and has over 800 editions on the site.
Now the company puts out at least two limited edition prints per week, and consumers can purchase prints from a curated online gallery of artists in a variety of sizes and price ranges, from $24 to over $2,400. Each edition and print size has a limited quantity available and ships with a Certificate of Authenticity that includes the artist’s signature and edition number. They also launched custom framing in 2011.
While the company takes half of each print sold, additional revenue streams are also under development, with potential partnerships in the works with hotels and corporations that have approached 20×200 for curation services (the company has already worked with hotels including The Nantucket Hotel tand the Ritz Tahoe). That seems reminiscent of startup IndieWalls, which works with local artists in NYC to get their art featured in local cafes, restaurants, and other public spaces. IndieWalls is currently holding 28 exhibitions around the city, and charges venues a subscription fee for curating collections for their locations.
There are also plenty of other companies that are looking to make art accessible to the masses, including Netflix for art Artsicle, art discovery platform Art.sy. And of course there direct competitors like Artspace, as well as traditional galleries and art sources. Bekman said in an interview that the company’s focus on curating the best of new artists is what sets them apart. “We’ve built deep relationships with our customers and also our artists. The other activity in the space I see as a good thing. But what I think sets us apart is our curation and commitment to quality and also our relationships.”
Right now the company ships internationally, but Bekman said they’ll continue to focus on the U.S. before concentrating marketing efforts internationally. “I think of 200,000 prints sold, I think of 200,000 stories. We want everyone to collect art, and there are millions and millions of people we haven’t touched here in U.S., we want to touch them before expanding globally in the near term future.” With a new potential revenue stream on the horizon, curating art for physical venues, 20×200 could open up a new way to get art into the hands of consumers. More and more startups are looking to cash in on affordable art, and with artists around the world using online tools to promote their works, the company will have to focus on winning over new consumers with their online marketplace.
Update: The article originally stated that made-to-measure mat framing would be available in a few weeks, when in fact it’s already available. It also stated 20×200 only ships in the U.S., when in fact it ships internationally. The company also updated the hotels it has worked with after the article was originally published.