Lars Bode founded Bode Projects in 2017 when he realized something critical was missing from the German art scene: “We needed a platform to exhibit underrepresented artists,” he said in a recent interview with Artsy. But, like many young galleries, Bode Projects found it challenging to connect with quality collectors early on—so the gallery decided to join Artsy.
In just over four years, Bode’s collector base and influence have expanded both online and offline. The gallery moved from a small studio in Hamburg to a large exhibition space in Berlin in September 2020, and last year, the gallery doubled its revenue on Artsy.
So, how did Bode do it? Below, the gallerist shares some of his tips for success.
Share your artists’ stories
“To introduce a new artist a new audience, it’s important to give collectors the opportunity to get a glimpse behind the artists’ work and practice,” said Lars Bode.
To achieve this, Bode Projects produces its In Conversation With series—consisting of interviews with artists in their studio, talking about their practice. The gallery features the series prominently on its website, promotes it on Instagram, and encourages the artists to cross-promote their interview to maximize the visibility. By allowing artists to speak through the gallery’s mouthpiece, Bode Projects shapes an understanding and appreciation of the artist as a person to resonate more naturally with collectors.
For Bode the gallerist, developing strong, close relationships with emerging artists is key to connecting collectors with their practices and the gallery’s program. To build these relationships, Bode offers an invite-only, custom, artist-in-residence program spanning anywhere between two weeks and three months, depending on what the artist needs and what they’re looking to achieve. Bode also offers a studio living space, access to materials, and studio visits. “The only goal is for the residency to be beneficial to the artist’s practice or career,” explained Bode.
Identify opportunities for exposure
Most recently, in 2021, the artist Alteronce Gumby took part in Bode Projects’s residency, wherein he created a large oil painting, glass works, and some resin pieces. During the residency, Bode nominated Gumby to The Artsy Vanguard—Artsy’s annual feature recognizing the most promising artists working today. Gumby was selected for the 2021 edition, and the exposure of the feature “triggered a lot of attention and multiple inquires for both Gumby’s work and that of other artists,” Bode explained.
Put yourself in your collectors’ shoes
Another way Bode tries to create a gateway to his artists and their work is with the gallery’s images. With a multidisciplinary program, it’s important—especially with textile pieces and sculptures—to show high-quality, in-detail shots, “so [collectors] can see the layers, material, and texture more clearly and connect in a different way to the artists practice,” he said.
This is especially true for online buyers who might not see the works in person before they purchase them. It “transports the exhibition to an audience beyond Berlin,” Bode commented, and creates “trust between the gallery and a person located in Chicago or South Korea who has never come across your studio before.”
Artsy is constantly developing new tools, so I can gain new insights into collectors’ demands and what makes it easier for them to fall in love with an artwork.
Lars Bode, Bode Projects
With such an emerging artist base, it was important for Bode to cultivate an international audience to make his artists more accessible and visible to collectors around the world. Artsy has been highly valuable in helping Bode Projects be “as transparent and open as possible, [and] to make it easy for the collector to connect with the gallery,” Bode said.
By using features such as Artsy Viewing Rooms, Conversations, and Buy Now / Make Offer, Bode creates a seamless experience for collectors. The gallery has seen great success with these approaches: In 2021, its yearly revenue from Artsy doubled by opting works into Buy Now / Make Offer.
“If you can make it easier for collectors to purchase, then why not?” Bode asked. He advocates for price transparency, too: “Visible pricing makes it easy for collectors to decide if they want to reach out to you or not.”
Lack of visible pricing was ranked the top hindrance to buying art online by 70% of next-gen collectors* in Artsy’s most recent collector report. (*Next-gen collectors are defined as those who began buying art within the last four years, and spent $10,000 or more on art in at least one year during that period.) This correlates with buyer behavior on Artsy, where works listed on the platform with visible pricing are five times more likely to sell than those without.
Bode has been impressed with how Arsty has helped him cultivate an international audience for his artists’ works and build strong connections with collectors globally.
“I met an Indian collector through Artsy who was interested in a work,” Bode recalled. “Based on this initial inquiry, a discussion arose about our general approach and program. In the end, we sold another artwork to this new collector who we wouldn’t have met without Artsy—and never would have otherwise gained that level of insight into his collection.”
Lars Bode, Bode Projects
Bode is always looking ahead and creating opportunities to showcase his artists globally. Soon, the gallerist will head to Havana, Cuba, to host his first exhibition outside his gallery space at the end of November. There, he’ll exhibit a group show called Nice Time to Start Painting, featuring artists such as Flavio Garciandía, Cristina Canale, José Yague, and more. Shortly after, the gallery will participate for the second time at Untitled Miami Beach, with a solo booth of works by Dana James.