Success Story: Galerie Loft

How Galerie Loft embraced digital tactics to modernize its business

Success Story: Galerie Loft
Exterior of Galerie Loft, Paris.
Success Story: Galerie Loft

About Galerie Loft 

Founded in 1985 by  Jean-François Roudillon, Galerie Loft consists of two spaces that sit across the street from each other in Paris’s historic Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Boasting a well-curated selection of Eastern and Western art, Galerie Loft represents an array of international artists ranging from Chinese to French-American to Iranian.

https://www.artsy.net/galerie-loft

Location

Paris

Exterior of Galerie Loft, Paris.

Exterior view of Galerie Loft, Paris. Courtesy of Galerie Loft.

Director of Galerie Loft Jean-François Roudillon says that when he opened his gallery in 1985, “the internet didn’t exist and it was before I even had a computer.” Since then, Galerie Loft has come a long way—over the past 33 years, Roudillon has constantly adapted his gallery to meet the ever-evolving needs of its collectors.

Today, Galerie Loft consists of two spaces that sit across the street from each other in Paris’s historic Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Boasting a well-curated selection of Eastern and Western art, Galerie Loft represents an array of international artists ranging from Chinese to French-American to Iranian.

After launching a new website and cultivating a strong social media presence, Galerie Loft joined Artsy to, as Roudillon puts it, “open up to modernity.” How did Galerie Loft modernize its business without forgoing its origins, and what role did Artsy play along the way?

About Galerie Loft

Since 1985, Jean-François Roudillon has tailored Galerie Loft’s roster to support his mission of promoting young, up-and-coming artists. Describing himself and his team as “archaeologists of contemporary art,” Roudillon firmly believes “art is something that allows us to dream or discover new cultures.”

Galerie Loft turned this belief into a reality, becoming a pioneer and leader among European galleries who represent contemporary Chinese artists. The gallery’s programming is known for including exhibitions that highlight artists from around the world and institutional exhibitions focused on contemporary Chinese art.

Galerie Loft’s Jean-François Roudillon.

The challenge

Like so many galleries, Galerie Loft struggled to remain relevant to collectors in a constantly maturing market. With all of the changes in the art world over the past 10 years, Roudillon needed to find a tool that would help modernize Galerie Loft and make the gallery’s online presence as dynamic and international as its roster.

“Tools like Artsy help us learn new ways of communicating and to make our artists known; it allows collectors to discover their work and makes collectors aware that our gallery represents them. It’s a great source of information”

Jean-François Roudillon, Galerie Loft

Steps for Success

1. Embrace new ways of communicating and selling

Before joining Artsy, Galerie Loft’s promotional strategy was loosely defined, consisting mostly of “exhibitions, fairs, sending invitation cards to clients, trying to introduce people to new talents—just the usual work of a gallerist,” Roudillon remarks.

However, last year, Roudillon and his team adopted a new strategy to better align with collector behavior. Roudillon notes, “The art market is transforming. The internet domain is still a pretty new one, especially when it comes to art. But the internet is an ever-growing trend, and it’s necessary to adapt to this new means of artistic promotion.”

So in June of 2017, Galerie Loft partnered with Artsy.

“Artsy has allowed us to open up to modernity,” explains Roudillon. “Tools like Artsy help us learn new ways of communicating…it allows us to make our artists known; it allows collectors to discover their work and makes collectors aware that our gallery represents them. It’s a great source of information, which is really powerful.”

Interior view of Galerie Loft, Paris. Courtesy of Galerie Loft.

For Galerie Loft, joining Artsy didn’t upend the way Roudillon’s team worked but rather introduced new channels of communication into the business. Ultimately, Artsy enabled Galerie Loft to bring visibility to its artists and reach more collectors, which has proved especially helpful for business. As Roudillon points out, “if you’re promoting contemporary art…you’re representing young artists who aren’t well-known yet so you’re saying ‘Young talent! Come and see!’ in the hope that in the future, they will become established.”

“I learned about Artsy from my peers that were already using the platform, who told me that it was a pretty effective site that allowed them to open their programs to the rest of the world.”

Jean-François Roudillon, Galerie Loft

2. Join an international community of established galleries and collectors

When searching for an online platform to partner with, Galerie Loft first looked to its peers. Roudillon says, “I learned about Artsy from my peers that were already using the platform, who told me that it was a pretty effective site that allowed them to open their programs to the rest of the world.”

But as he became more familiar with Artsy, Roudillon realized that the platform aligned with many of Galerie Loft’s own values in critical ways. Roudillon is committed to wider access to and distribution of the arts. This speaks to Artsy’s mission and vision to expand the art market to support more artists and art in the world, creating a future where everyone is moved by art every day.

“Aligning my gallery with Artsy means exposure to the world! New eyes to discover our art! Beyond this, where I feel we best align is the democratization of the contemporary art market,” notes Roudillon. “I love being on Artsy because it allows me to promote our program and be part of a community of galleries doing the same.”

For Galerie Loft, this sense of community extends beyond more than 2,500 gallery partners on Artsy to a network of qualified collectors whose nationalities are as diverse as those in Loft’s artist roster.

“Through Artsy we’ve had American collectors, European collectors…is there a difference? No,” says Roudillon, commenting on the ways Artsy has helped Galerie Loft expand its collector network beyond its region’s borders. “We’re in the modern age of information—everyone is adapting to it. ”

“Aligning my gallery with Artsy means exposure to the world! New eyes to discover our art!”

Jean-François Roudillon, Galerie Loft

Philippe Hilquily, Marathonienne - 275 cm. 
Artwork placed via Artsy in private collection via Artsy.

3. Make your artists accessible and discoverable

With a roster of mostly young, contemporary artists, visibility is essential for Galerie Loft’s success.

“We try to promote artists who aren’t so well-known, or who have perhaps been a little forgotten,” Roudillon explains, “so we do what’s needed to ensure that people can rediscover these artists or simply discover them in the first place.”

Drawing more than two million unique viewers a month across web and mobile, Artsy has played a role in making Galerie Loft’s artists more accessible and visible to collectors around the world, regardless of their proximity to the gallery.

Artsy is becoming a reference site for art online…myself in a collector’s shoes, I’d think ‘there are so many artworks, perhaps I’ll go to Artsy and use the search function the same way as I’d use Google to find what I’m looking for’…it works.”

Jean-François Roudillon, Galerie Loft

Yuwen Huang, Manager of Communications and International Relations at Galerie Loft, oversees the gallery’s partnership with Artsy on a day to day basis, working with Roudillon to “decide which works to upload, keep, or take down, according to what’s attracting interest and to what [they] want to promote.”

“Artsy is becoming a reference site for art online—and why not?” says Roudillon. “Putting myself in a collector’s shoes, I’d think ‘there are so many artworks, perhaps I’ll go to Artsy and use the search function the same way as I’d use Google to find what I’m looking for’…it works!”

Artsy has helped Galerie Loft “widen its reach when it comes to how many people are exposed to its artists.” And while many collectors discover Galerie Loft’s artists through Artsy, a large number of the collectors Roudillon and his team have engaged with have contacted Galerie Loft having some sense of what they were looking for beforehand.

Roudillon shares one story that, to this day, stands out.

“One of the most fascinating sales we had on Artsy was when a collector from Los Angeles got in touch regarding a sculpture by Philippe Hiquily, because he had seen one of his sculptures on TV, in an American series called Billions. He used Artsy to find Hiquily’s available works and made an inquiry on one specific piece that we had for sale. There was some back and forth about the price—we weren’t sure the sale would go through—but after about a week, the deal was done!”

4. Invest in the collectors of tomorrow

Motivated by a commitment to the democratization of art, Galerie Loft not only believes in supporting young artists, but also in connecting with young collectors.

“At Galerie Loft, we work with editions, art multiples,” Roudillon elaborates. “This allows us to work with artists who are already quite well-known, but in a way that makes their work more accessible to younger people.”

Moving forward, Roudillon envisions a future where Artsy will be able to further Galerie Loft’s relationships with patrons who are new to collecting in order to help cultivate collectors from around the world that will support the gallery long term.

“In the years to come, I’d love to capture the interests of young, aspiring collectors using affordable editions of artworks by well-known artists—making things more accessible. I think this is possible with Artsy. There’s a very elitist side to the art world, which irks me sometimes. I go by the principle that art should be accessible to everyone. Some galleries cultivate elitism, but it’s not really what we’re about.”

“In the years to come, I’d love to capture the interests of young, aspiring collectors using affordable editions of artworks by well-known artists—making things more accessible. I think this is possible with Artsy.”

Jean-François Roudillon, Galerie Loft

What’s Next for Galerie Loft?

As Galerie Loft continues its partnership with Artsy, Roudillon looks forward to seeing how the platform’s growth will continue to impact Galerie Loft’s business in years to come.

“The bigger Artsy gets, the more eyes that are on it, the more interesting it becomes for galleries anywhere in the world,” notes Roudillon. “It has only been a year since we joined. We’re trying to use it as best we can, trying to maximize return on our investment. Ask me again in a year to see how we’ve developed our strategy further!”