In the latest attempt to create entry points into the art market that exist outside the gallery system, the New Jersey–based organization Mana Contemporary will launch a new platform, Mana Decentralized, that will allow artists to sell their work directly to collectors.
Decentralized will launch in two phases, with the first version launching Sunday, April 28. About 1,000 artists are already onboard, according to Mana. That iteration will take the form of a website and require artists to pay a $10 monthly fee to post their works for sale and connect with potential buyers. As part of the deal, artists will take home 60 percent of their sales, and Mana will receive the other 40 percent; all works on the platform will be priced between $500 and $5,000.
When the second version of Decentralized launches in about nine months, it will take the form of an app, and the fee will rise to $20 a month, with the artist keeping all of the sales. The app will also utilize blockchain technology, allowing artists to receive royalties if their work is sold in the secondary market.
Eugene Lemay, Mana’s art director, said that the development of Decentralized began about a year and a half ago, as a way for the organization to continue its support of artists that put artists first. Currently, Mana provides affordable studio space, programming, and workshops to artists in the hopes of helping them deal with practical matters, like filing taxes and photographing artworks, and offering ways to foster community.
“As an artist myself, I can testify to the challenges I face daily when it comes to presenting and selling my art,” Lemay told ARTnews. “I can therefore sympathize a great deal with younger artists who are experiencing similar hurdles in igniting their careers.”
To take these digital conversations offline, Mana will also host exhibitions that will showcase some of the work available on Decentralized, as well as series of programs that will bring artists and collectors into direct contact. The first event will be staged at Mana’s Jersey City space on Sunday as part of its “Spring Open House.” Over the course of the next year, Mana will also establish spaces in Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles that will put on similar offerings.
“This is a platform for the artists themselves,” Lemay said. “If they deal with collectors directly, they control their destiny. It’s giving power back to the artist.”