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Mathilde Le Roy, who had been working in the art sector for 15 years, once wanted to buy a piece of art for herself but realized that she could not afford it. Facing the harsh reality of the art market, she founded Kazoart three years ago, an online platform that allows people to buy paintings, photographs and other artwork at a reasonable price. First launched in Paris, Kazoart is now based in Bordeaux where we met with Mrs. Le Roy to talk about the image of the art world and the importance of art democratization.
Helping struggling artists and changing the image of the art sector were among the reasons that led Mrs. Le Roy to start Bordeaux’s Kazoart. She started benchmarking how her desire for entrepreneurship could turn into a business model and realized that some websites selling artworks online existed in the United States and Great Britain.
“I knew a lot of talented artists who were struggling to sell their art,” she explains. “Besides, the art world, especially when it comes to contemporary art, is so intimidating to outsiders because it is very elitist and this statement, I’m sad to say, is even more accurate in France,” she says. “People feel bad because they feel that if they’re not experts, they can’t buy art. That’s why on our website, we also blog about the frequently asked questions about art in order to provide some insight to our customers.”
According to her, people usually buy art because they fall in love with it at first sight but also because of the speculation and potential benefits they might gain if the artist they “bet” on becomes very famous. Concerning how prices are decided on the art market, she explains that different parameters are to be taken into consideration.
“The excitement around an art piece or an artist is not necessarily rational,” Le Roy says. “First of all, the opinion of art critics, some galleries or art fairs drive the art market and one positive review from their part can take your career to the next level.”
She also points out the need for artists to be able to market themselves and stand out in a world where art is everywhere.
“In art, knowing how to market yourself is an important part of the job,” Mrs. Le Roy says. “Jeff Koons, whether you like him or not, is the perfect example. He understands the marketing aspect, which plays a huge part in his success. Our role at Kazoart is to help those who are not marketing wizards but who are hidden gems.”
In order to be part of Kazoart’s online gallery, artists need to show a real professional approach, a large body of work, a signature and authentic style and finally, technical mastery.
“It might sound crazy to some, but after three years of selecting and looking at artists’ work, I can tell the difference between something abstract and doodles,” she comments.
Facing a constant increase of submissions (about 10 artworks a day), Mrs. Le Roy can rely on multidisciplinary experts including an art professor, a gallerist and an art collector to help her in the decision process. Kazoart currently has eight employees, but a recent successful fundraising with big investors will allow the startup to hire more people and continue its expansion.
On the website, every painting is unique and limited to 30 copies for photographs. If you like a painting that has already been sold, you can now have it reproduced and printed on paper or on canvas. What really sets Kazoart apart from the other platforms selling art is that most art pieces do not exceed 500 euros.
When looking back on the last three years, Mathilde Le Roy is grateful for Kazoart’s success but she is also aware of the challenges ahead.
“It’s been three great years and I hope it continues this way,” she says. “There are still things we want to improve such as including more international artists on the platform and gaining a more international range of customers. We also want to improve our customers’ digital experience because we want them to feel more comfortable and sure about art pieces they can’t touch prior to buying them.”
For those who still might feel hesitant about buying or collecting art, Mrs. Le Roy has a final piece of advice.
“You should trust yourself, ” she says. “If you like it, that is a very good reason to buy it.”