Why I Started Cosimo

07 Aug 2022 | 1 Comments

For those of you new to Cosimo, my name's John and I'm the founder and CEO here at Cosimo - the guy with a big cheesy grin up in that picture above. 

I thought it might be useful to give a little insight as to why we began on this crazy journey, and what we're trying to change about the art world... so, here's how it all came about!

As an Art History student my academic research was focused on depictions of addiction and race in the 19th and 20th centuries… but I figured that probably wasn’t going to help me get a job in the real world so I started scoping out a few other options.

I did some work in marketing, first for a local art trail and then for a larger museum and gallery; but I also wanted to pursue a career in contemporary art and curation, so I started a job as a Sales Assistant in a commercial gallery. 

It was so much fun to be able to rock up at work, spend time getting to know and enjoy the artists and artworks that we had for sale, and then getting to speak to people about it all as the day went on.

However, we didn’t really make many sales…

I quickly realised that the traditional commission-based model was impacting both buyers and sellers alike. 

And if we weren’t making many sales in the gallery… the place where people often go to find art and, in theory at least, to buy it - then what hope did artists who werent in a gallery have of selling their work either!

What’s more, it seemed that for artists fortunate enough to get into a gallery, it meant that any sales they did make resulted in squeezed margins; while for buyers, it meant that pricing was often skewed, opaque, and expensive. 

When you combined this with the overriding sense that galleries were intimidating environments, both on and offline, it became clear that an alternative was needed - one that enabled direct and transparent connection between artists and their collectors. 

Ultimately, if I  (as someone who was very much ‘in’ the art world) didn’t feel welcome, then we were undoubtedly locking out huge numbers of people who would want to support artists and own their work if they felt it was possible.

Now, I should say... not all galleries are like this. Some galleries are great, and a lot of artists and buyers can benefit greatly from working with galleries and building relationships with them!

However, we believe that this shouldn't be the only option for artists... and we created Cosimo to give people a new way of doing things. 

We wanted Cosimo to give a new face to the art world; one that wasn’t stuffy, pretentious, and closed off.

We wanted to put control back into the hands of the thousands of talented artists who are out there, trying to establish themselves and turn their creativity into a sustainable career. 

And above all, we wanted to make it so that more people were comfortable and able to buy art - so they can fill their lives and homes with artworks that they love.

After all, I’ve got so much enjoyment over the years out of engaging with art - whether in my own homes, at other people’s, in galleries, streets… you name it! 

So, we want to make sure that more and more people can share in this often weird and wacky thing that we call the ‘art world’.

The man that Cosimo is named after, the founding father of the Renaissance and the original Mr Medici himself, once said, “these things [works of art] have given me the greatest satisfaction and contentment”.

We want to make sure a new generation of Cosimos can share in this feeling too.

(That said, we hope you look a bit happier about it when all is said and done than our mate Cosimo looks here!)

Nigel Smith

I've had mixed experiences with galleries. Some show initial interest, put the work on the wall then when it doesn't sell after a couple of months of zero promotion it goes into their storage area until I ask for it back. Some have taken my work and put it into group exhibitions - these can be good because they tend to promote the shows well which gets people into the gallery. Sales have never come directly from these shows but I have had enquiries much later after the show has finished, some of which have led to sales even several years later! Art trails/open houses have brought better sales for me - I guess they are down to earth and less intimidating than high street galleries. Buyers seem to like the idea of talking to and buying direct from the artist. I have encountered one or two very nice, genuine galleries who promote the work well and don't take enormous commissions but they tend to be lesser known and not particularly high foot traffic so sales can be slow although I have had a few from here. Sales from online galleries such as Saatchi Art are erratic - I've had a few sales of originals and prints. I also get some sales from social media. I don't actually mind the idea of galleries taking commissions - even the wopping 50% some ask for is worth it if they work their database and promote the work through their website and social media. But if they don't promote your work they're just tying it up with zero chance of it ever selling.

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