When business partners Chiara Badinella and Fabrizio Affronti opened Brand New Gallery in Milan in 2010, the art world was only just coming online. Inspired to create an international “platform where artists, curators, and collectors can meet and exchange ideas,” they jumped on the opportunity to build the program that defines their gallery today—a vision largely realized by the connections and network available online.
About Brand New Gallery
Badinella and Affronti work together as co-directors and curators at their gallery, which they describe as a space dedicated to contemporary art and cultural promotion. Their mission is to “give the Italian public new ideas and new artists to see,” and they work primarily with international emerging and established artists that have never before exhibited in Italy.
Today, their roster includes an array of artists from around the world such as Ry David Bradley, Caroline Wells Chandler, and Folkert de Jong. Since joining Artsy in 2014, Brand New Gallery has gained exposure and expanded its client network, all while making “good sales on the platform,” Affronti says.
When conceptualizing Brand New Gallery, Badinella and Affronti faced a challenge that directly impacted their mission of bringing new art and ideas to the Italian public. Seeking to drive attention, awareness, and international support to a program that promotes emerging artists, they wanted to know:
How can a gallery become discoverable to collectors from around the world who may not yet be familiar with the artists it represents?
We saw Artsy as a marketing tool…Now, being a part of the Artsy club is great.
Chiara Badinella, Co-Director and Curator of Brand New Gallery
Steps to Success
Badinella and Affronti pursued the art world online as the platform to realize their gallery’s vision. The first step they took in communicating this vision was building a website—a full year before opening their brick-and-mortar space. Four years later, in 2014, Brand New Gallery joined Artsy.
“We saw Artsy as a marketing tool,” Chiara explains. “We thought a little bit, of course, because it was a financial investment, but there was nothing scary about it. We were one of the first galleries to be open to this new technology developed for the art market. Now, being a part of the Artsy club is great.”
Here, Badinella and Affronti share insight into the key strategies they use to bring visibility to their artists and gallery online:
1. Be a part of change in the art world
When discussing the early days of Brand New Gallery, Affronti is quick to point out that when it started, “the online part of the art market was different, and galleries in Europe invested much less online.”
In order to support their up-and-coming and established artists, Badinella and Affronti identified a need to develop an international collector network. “Collectors travel less to see the exhibition in person, but they are constantly watching Artsy or Instagram,” says Affronti. “We were always pretty present online, but in the last year, the art market has really changed and online has become a very important part of sales and the market. Now is the time of change in the art world.”
2. Make it easy for collectors to engage online
Brand New Gallery is deeply committed to supporting the professional development of its artists, especially those that are early on in their careers. As a result, Badinella and Affronti make an effort to provide as many entry points as possible for their audience online. Over the past seven years, they’ve invested in their website, Instagram, and Artsy. Each digital channel presents a different way for collectors to discover and engage with their art and artists through actions such as likes, inquiries, and follows.
“The way collectors find emerging artists has changed over the past few years,” reflects Badinella. “They will say, ‘I saw this on Instagram or on Artsy—I want to see these works. Do you have more information available?’ Collectors look more online today than they did before.”
To catch the attention of collectors online—and to keep them coming back for more—different types of posts can keep your Instagram or Facebook feed fresh and interesting.
“The way collectors find emerging artists has changed over the past few years. They will say, ‘I saw this on Instagram or on Artsy—I want to see these works. Do you have more information available?’ Collectors look more online today than they did before.”
Chiara Badinella, Co-Director and Curator at Brand New Gallery
“On our Instagram, we don’t only put information about the shows in our gallery, but also about our artists in public spaces. It’s important that the artist has strong online visibility, too,” says Affronti.
In two years, Badinella and Affronti have increased their Instagram following from 6,000 to 56,000, making Brand New Gallery the second most followed gallery account in Italy.. Recently, the gallery has even begun to receive inquiries through the social media platform, further demonstrating how a large online presence leads to more sale opportunities.
3. Connect with qualified collectors
Based on her experience online, Badinella has observed different behaviors amongst international inquiries: Collectors in the US, UK, and Asia seem more familiar with buying art online and therefore more efficient, whereas collectors in Italy generally take a longer time to learn about the work if they can’t see it in person.
Brand New Gallery accesses this international audience through Artsy. “We engage with different types of buyers,” Affronti says. “Maybe some are young collectors that are eager to know more about an artist and want to receive more information. We’re also in contact with collectors who have collected for many years, have experience, and know exactly what they’re looking for.”
Regardless of the type of collector, Brand New Gallery has found an international audience on Artsy that supports its roster of international emerging artists. For a gallery team of two, this access to a qualified collecting audience means that Badinella and Affronti can spend more time connecting with their network rather than building it from scratch.
More than 70% of Brand New Gallery’s inquiries have come from collectors searching on Google.
4. Get help from Google
More than 70% of Brand New Gallery’s inquiries have come from collectors searching on Google—this means that artists who are at the start of their careers are surfacing for collectors to discover online.
“One thing we focus a lot on is keeping our Artsy profile updated, including the CV of the artists and the works available on Artsy,” Affronti points out. Brand New Gallery’s website and Artsy profile page are rich with information about their artists and works, such as biographies, artwork dimensions, and exhibition histories.
For a gallery that has come online, one of the most significant steps it can take is learning how to improve its rankings and traffic via tactics known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of increasing the visibility of a website on search engines like Google or Bing. For example, well-executed SEO can help a gallery website to rank higher and more frequently in search results. A large part of making emerging artists discoverable is having as much information (or metadata) as possible so search engines can recognize the page as helpful and raise the page’s placement in search results. This makes it easier for collectors browsing online to come across your gallery’s artists even if they weren’t looking for them in the first place.
As Badinella and Affronti grow Brand New Gallery, they will continue to use online as the primary tool to develop their collector network. Partnering with Artsy provides them with the structure to support their artists, enabling them to achieve their vision of using their gallery to bring new ideas and cultural exchange to the people of Italy.