These platforms should help in the visibility and networking of local artists by bringing everyone together in one place. Usually Malaysian artists then sell their works in bazaars and their own social networks.
There, two sisters, Dana and Elina, noticed that we lack a market to go to (both online and in-store) specifically focused on the visual arts from which people can shop. That is what led to creation OUTLET.
All in one place for local art
As an average consumer who isn’t too familiar with the local art scene, it’s hard for me to buy a local one for the exact reason Dana and Elina mentioned.
Since there is no significant one-stop-shop for local visual arts, I would just procure generic art from a store that probably mass-produces paintings or IKEAs.
“Once we thought about it even more, we felt a growing desire to launch a platform where people could discover artists and buy their works,” Dana and Elina shared for the Vulcan Post.
So the sisters first dived into the e-commerce scene to address this painful situation for both local artists and consumers. They run OUTLET from the side because Dana is an art psychotherapist and Elina works in communication with the publishing and music industries.
Attractive for various tastes
About the way the duo gets to the works listed on OUTLET, they shared that they currently have the products delivered as well as an exclusive collaboration.
“With the shipments, we approach artists (or vice versa) who already have existing products would like to sell on our platform. In terms of exclusive collaboration, we are contacting artists we would like to work with to sell products that are sold exclusively on our platform, ”they said.
Some finished art pieces have several units in stock, while some do not, and the number of units is mutually agreed upon by both OUTLET and the artist. These numbers also depend on whether they are open or limited.
Dictionary of dictionaries: The difference between an open and a limited edition is that limited editions are usually original works of art developed by the artist in a particular print medium. Open editions, however, are a selection of works of art that can be reproduced multiple times. Most prints in the open edition allow an unlimited number of the same works of art to be purchased.
On OUTLET’s page, you can find a variety of art graphics that vary in style, from minimalist to vivid. Art prints cost around RM15 to RM90, depending on size and medium, and there are original handbags on sale priced from RM25.
Going where customers already are
“When we conducted the survey before launching OUTLET, we noticed that there was a majority that was not willing to spend too much money on graphics,” Dana and Elina recalled.
“While this seemed like something that could stop us from doing business, we believe in the value of artists and their work, so we use OUTLET as a platform to try to create more demand.”
Currently, their main sales channel is Instagram, but they also facilitate transactions on Facebook. The reason is that they believe that these social media platforms are the best way for customers to discover new and established artists.
In addition, this helps Danau and Elina to build their social media presence, but they also said they are working on a site that will be launched soon.
Their current method of selling prints via PM may still be sustainable to this extent, but the website is definitely the right next move if they want to establish themselves as a philanthropist in the industry.
While they can lose that personal touch when selling via messaging, having a website that can facilitate e-commerce transactions can ease customer travel and allow shopping at almost any time.
Performing artists among the poor
OUTLET is not a social enterprise, but Dana and Elina also felt it was important to include artists from less privileged communities to participate in the market.
So they help sell bags from the manufacturer Life2Life Ampang Sewing Center, a social enterprise that provides asylum seekers with opportunities to earn a living with their own means. This group it also works with a social enterprise Love, light, lemons.
“With this philosophy at heart, some of our upcoming products with artists part of the proceeds will go to a chosen charity or purpose,” the sisters shared with the Vulcan Post.
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Dealing with e-commerce with products that Malaysians are not most willing to flaunt, will undoubtedly be a challenge for OUTLET.
While it might be difficult to change this spending behavior among Malaysians (if the responses to the OUTLET survey are anything to go by), OUTLET still creates an opportunity to change that.
The days are still early, but if a startup can gain enough power, this will open up more opportunities for other businesses to do the same for the benefit of the local art community.
- You can learn more about OUTLET shee.
- You can read about more art-related startups we’ve covered here.
Credits for featured paintings: Dana and Elina, founders of OUTLET (left) and Afi, fruit artist (right)