Art

Artfinder is a dating site to help you fall in love with art

By Oliver Smith 4 January 2017
Summary

Finding that perfect match.

Finding that perfect work of art to hang on your wall is remarkably similar to finding love, says Jonas Almgren the CEO of art marketplace Artfinder.

Last year Almgren’s team were responsible for millions of ‘dates’ and 50,000 ‘matches’ between art, artists and art-lovers – it’s a place for artists to sell directly to their fans.

“The problem we’re solving is more similar to Match.com than Amazon,” says Almgren.

It’s a huge challenge to solve as, just like love, most people find it hard to articulate exactly what they’re looking for in art.

“You can’t quite describe how you want someone to look for example, but you just know it when you see it.”

But, with over 300,000 original artworks and nearly 9,000 artists selling their creations on Artfinder for an average of between £200 and £300 a piece, it’s a problem that Almgren is perfectly positioned to solve.

Artfinder CEO Jonas Almgren (right) and COO Michal Szczesny.

Love at first sight

Of course Artfinder can suggest art you might love based on your browsing history – a bit like how Amazon bombards you with cat advent calendars after that one cursory browse for a distant relative’s Christmas present.

But love doesn’t usually strike when you’re sitting at home on your laptop looking for it.

“Many people don’t start on our website, maybe they are out looking in a museum or gallery and they want to buy something similar to what they see? Or maybe they’re on a hike and see a beautiful sunset and want an artwork that reminds them of that?” says Almgren.

To solve the problem of love at first sight, Artfinder last year created a Twitter chatbot called Emma who you can tweet any photo at – whether artwork or otherwise – and Emma will respond with art of a similar style that you can buy.

 

Artfinder also uses advanced image recognition technology – the same used by Danish police to identify criminals on CCTV – to power Emma, and to suggest similar looking art as you browse around Artfinder.

First dates

After looks, the second key to love is obviously personality, and for that conversation is key.

Unlike most galleries, auctions or online art marketplaces, on Artfinder conversation core to how they sell art.

“We started looking at the emotional side and what makes people buy an original artwork rather than a poster – because they can look quite similar,” says Almgren.

“It all has to do with the story, with the connection with artists, that’s why we allow anyone on our site to chat with the artists. So even before they buy an artwork they can ask questions, they can find commonalities with the artist or artwork, and really discover whether something is interesting for them.”

Once there’s chemistry between art-lover and artist, a match is almost guaranteed.

The secret to love

“The next step is machine learning and artificial intelligence,” says Almgren.

“How do we get even better at this, constantly becoming more efficient at finding out what people love and helping them to understand their options.”

To do this the Artfinder team have help. In December William Tunstall-Pedoe, one of the key minds behind Amazon’s artificial intelligence Alexa, became an investor in the company as part of a $2.2m funding round.

Now the company is harnessing data from tens of thousands of their art sales, to see if they might just crack the algorithm behind love.