Editor’s note: Executive Q&A is a regular feature on Mondays.The pace of innovation and the addition of new products continues to change the picture at Art.com.
The picture is one of success.
The Triangle-based firm recently added original art and photography as well as special exhibits to its product suite. What consumers see at the art.com web site today — a potential 1.4 trillion combinations of products from posters and art to custom framing, according to the company — is a far cry from the 3,100 products offered seven years ago.
A crucial driving force for all the change is Joshua Chodniewicz, art.com’s enthusiastic CEO who founded the company in 1995 along with close friend Michael Martson.
Local Tech Wire asked Chodniewicz recently about the new original art and photography series as well as the addition of executive whose job is to explore ways to grow Art.com.
What is the primary reason, or reasons, for the new offering?
Our customers drive our decision making and they have clearly asked us for original artwork. It is a very natural and logical extension of our current offering, which has been focused on the entry-level and mid-range art products such as posters, prints, limited editions, vintage original posters and hand colored prints.
Are you trying to move Art.com beyond a traditional e-commerce site/market into more of a community where people come to browse, learn and shop?
We are working to establish Art.com as the online destination for art, whether it is browsing, learning, shopping via our eCommerce engine or shopping offline with the artist.
How does this enhance your business model?
With the addition of original work, we offer customers a full range of art products, thereby appealing to a wider variety of interests, tastes and budgets, and enabling us to grow with our customers as they evolve and change over time. The Original Art & Photography Program also enables us to fulfill the promise of the “Art.com” name, where in the past we left some visitors disappointed when they found that we did not offer what they were looking for in “art”.
Are you doing this in response to queries from customers and artists who see a need or potential for these services?
Per number 1, we are definitely responding to customer requests. We are also responding to artists who have been contacting us for years inquiring about displaying their original works and selling reproductions. By simplifying both the buying and selling of art, with an eye on the core competency of the Artist — which is creating art — and an eye on the changing needs of the customer, Art.com intends to drive a transformation of the art market, which is often viewed as being inaccessible to the vast majority of both buyers and sellers.
How did Art.com come up with the concept?
We listened to our customers. We listened to artists. We analyzed successes and failures in the eCommerce world in general and the online art business specifically. We then developed a flexible and scalable business model that aligned with our long-term strategies.
Are you adding staff and/or expertise to support the new offering?
We have very aggressive goals for our Original Art & Photography business and will invest and staff accordingly.
You recently began offering higher-grade products, such as prints on canvas. How is that effort going?
We have had positive results to date. Some items have done better than others, for instance our Limited Edition products are very popular. We are still testing these new product lines, and based on the results and the feedback from our customers, we will continue to expand our product offering accordingly.
How is business going overall?
The business is doing very well. As we continue to grow, it is both rewarding and exciting to see programs such as the Original Art and Photography Program launch. Two and a half years and millions of dollars later, I am very pleased with the program that our team has developed.
Will we see Art.com expanding in other ways in the future?
Absolutely. We will expand our business as it makes sense from both a revenue and strategic perspective.
Why is Art.com expanding beyond its core business?
We constantly strive to be at the forefront of our industry, and we have a tremendous volume of opportunities available to us which we regularly analyze and consider relative to expansion.
What is Kya Sainsbury-Carter’s mandate as Director of New Business Ventures?
To drive the strategy, planning, implementation and operationalization of new, long-term business initiatives.
Kya has been with Art.com for one year. She has nine years of experience in marketing, strategy and international business. She spent a significant amount of time at Compaq and HP, driving international marketing programs for the Storage Division in Asia, Europe, Latin America and Canada, eCommerce marketing and content management in Latin America and playing key roles in both the Digital and HP integration efforts. She also worked as a financial analyst in San Francisco. Kya earned her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of Arkansas and her MBA from Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management. Kya comes from a family of artists and has been around art all of her life