Art History graduate John Sewell created an online marketplace called Cosimo Art which brings artists and art lovers closer together. Cosimo Art acts to bring art online and help users sell and buy art without paying a commission which is so commonplace in traditional galleries. Initially, the brand was set up with a different name of Eazyl Art, but the rebrand in 2021 reflects the founders aspirations to grow the business in the future.
Cosimo Art - John Sewell's story
Our aim is to develop a community for emerging artists and new art consumers built on trust and openness, which often appears to be lacking in the current art market. Unlike traditional sites and bricks-and-mortar galleries, who charge an extortionate commission on each sale, we instead charge artists a small monthly membership fee. Rather than acting as a middle-man taking a cut off the top, we allow our customers to pay directly to the artist.
My own desire to start the website came as a result of several experiences. I worked for a short while as a salesperson in a traditional gallery and saw the impact commission had on people’s ability to buy art. While I also realised, when looking to purchase some art myself, I didn’t really know where to start or where to buy from. Many of the more established sites didn’t seem to be approachable for first-time buyers. The fact that I’m saying that as someone with a degree in Art History and who has experience working in the arts doesn’t bode well for people who may have a more casual interest in the arts!
Cosimo Art is therefore set up to be easily navigable for new consumers. Furthermore, our focus on supporting young artists will hopefully also align artists and buyers in the early stages of their careers. Making it easy to buy affordable but high-quality and emerging art from artists who need support from these sorts of people to begin to be able to establish a foothold in the often busy and noisy art-market.
Advice for setting up an online business
My advice to students looking to set up online businesses would be to make sure you have a thorough set of terms and conditions. This will give you a really strong platform on which to build the rest of the business, with the safety of mind that you are legally covered. The ability to pitch my idea for funding to a panel helped me in many ways. It forced me to be able to efficiently articulate what the business was and what it was aiming to achieve. This in turn grew my confidence in talking about the website, which is increasingly important as the business starts to grow and you have to get out there and spread the word.
My biggest hope for Cosimo Art is that it opens up the art world and engages new audiences with artists and their work. There are a huge number of incredibly talented artists, especially those in the early years of their career, who really need support during that stage. If we are able to help even a few of them to make it through those years, by connecting them with a new, young and enthusiastic clientele, then we will have done what we set out to do. Furthermore, I believe there are a lot of young people out there who would like to support artists and buy original work but don't think that they are able to do so. Therefore, it is Cosimo Art's job to encourage them to get involved.
In the long term, I want Cosimo Art to be the go-to marketplace for young artists and buyers. We want to not only support both parties by providing a platform through which to make sales but also to create a broader community. Using our brand and platform as a means to interest, educate and welcome people who may otherwise feel excluded from the art world is central to what we want to achieve.