Looking Out for the Unknown Artist

Bruce Livingstone may be the undiscovered artist’s best friend ever.

The CEO of Saatchi Online, his goal is to discover artists, introduce them to the public and collect their work before it becomes outrageously expensive.

“Charles Saatchi told me when I started that there are about 2,500 – 3,000 artists who have worldwide reputations and are represented by agents,” he said.  “Everyone else is disenfranchised.  We’re going after those artists.”

He was introduced to Saatchi by a venture capitalist who’d helped him sell his first enterprise, iStockphoto, to Getty Images.

“I was standing outside of the Saatchi Gallery in London, quite nervous actually, waiting to meet him,” he said.  “I decided to have a cigarette, and somebody shuffled up behind me and said, ‘You know, I invented the light cigarette.’  He knew exactly who I was, and we went in the gallery and talked – he knew about my work with art and photography.”

Shortly thereafter, Livingstone began to run Saatchi Online, changing the lives of ordinary people by helping them become full-time photographers and artists through the web site.

“My focus is on the artists – to help them find sustainable careers, to give them the opportunity to sell into the market, and to expose them to an intelligent group of collectors,” he said.

Saatchi Online sells the original painting, print, photograph or sculpture, but will also develop a product from digital files, printing it on rag paper, photographic paper or canvas.

The website also sponsors a competition called “Showdown,” where viewers can vote on a photo or painting, with a jury then passing judgment, followed by a return to voting by the community at large.  “It’s kind of a World Cup of art,” Livingstone said.  “Winners are displayed at Art Paris, the Saatchi Gallery in London or the Scope Art Fair in New York.”  Cash prizes are also awarded to the winners.

All in all, the site is set up for an unknown artist to succeed.  “It’s life-changing for them,” he said.  “Pretty much everything that goes into the gallery gets sold.”

For more on Saatchi Online, go to http://www.saatchionline.com/

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