Art Market

Artsy Insider: How the Next Generation of Collectors Is Buying Art

Benjamin Sutton
Jun 30, 2021 2:51PM

By order of appearance: Danielle Orchard, Woman Onstage, 2021. Courtesy of Jack Hanley Gallery; Harold Ancart, Untitled (Yellow Sky), 2017. Courtesy of David Benrimon Fine Art Gallery; REWA, aje butter | Bourgeouisie, 2021. Courtesy of Jonathan Ferrara Gallery; Loie Hollowell, Milk Fountain, 2019. Courtesy of Lougher Contemporary.

Welcome to Artsy Insider. This week, I’m sharing key insights from “Art Collecting 2021: An Artsy Report,” which draws on responses from thousands of collectors to illuminate how their buying habits changed during the pandemic, and was released in full today on Artsy. I’ll also share a collection of works informed by the tastes of collectors who participated in the survey.

By the Numbers

Everyone’s Collecting Online

All data based on Artsy survey responses.


The chart above shows the increase of collectors buying art online from 2019 to 2021. When Artsy surveyed a large cohort of collectors in 2019, 64% of them said they had purchased at least one artwork online. The share of collectors buying online has grown by almost one-third since, with 83% of our 2021 survey respondents saying they’ve bought art online. That share was even larger among “Next-Gen Collectors,” a subset of buyers who started collecting in the last four years; 91% of them said they’ve bought art online. Next-Gen Collectors skew younger than the overall collector cohort surveyed and are more comfortable discovering and buying art directly from their phones.


Top Works by Emerging Artists under $30K

From left to right: Xinyi Cheng, Lighter III, 2021. Courtesy of Dilecta; Ania Hobson, Midnight Drive, 2020. Courtesy of Gillian Jason Gallery; Judith Linhares, Peonies, 2009. Courtesy of Various Small Fires.

This week, Artsy Curatorial brings together a selection of works by today’s most exciting up-and-coming artists. Browse a range of unique and limited-edition pieces—all priced under $30,000.

Explore the full collection on Artsy.

This Week

Key Findings from Artsy’s Collector Survey

Clare Woods
Study for Barbara’s , 2015
Buchmann Galerie

The last time Artsy surveyed art collectors about their activities online, in 2019, digital sales made up just 9% of the art market, and more than a third of collectors (36%) said they’d never bought art online. Then COVID-19 hit, digital sales became essential lifelines for artists and gallerists, and more collectors adopted online tools.

The entire art market shrank 22% year over year in 2020, but the online art market doubled in value to make up a quarter of the entire market, according to Clare McAndrew’s “The Art Market 2021” report. Among the collectors surveyed for “Art Collecting 2021: An Artsy Report,” 83% said they had purchased art online—a 30% jump from 2019, reflecting increased comfort making major purchases online and trust in the ease and security of online sales platforms. Here are some of the other high-level findings from the report:

  • More than two-thirds of collectors (68%) said they bought as many or more works of art in the previous 12 months than in a normal year. Among Next-Gen Collectors, 78% said they’d bought the same number or more works in the past year.
  • Nearly two-thirds (62%) of respondents said the lack of visible prices was a hindrance to buying art online. This was even more pronounced among Next-Gen Collectors, 71% of whom said it was a roadblock to purchasing art online.
  • Collectors in general were split in their preference between browsing artworks on desktop and mobile, but 64% of Next-Gen Collectors preferred discovering art on their phones. Next-Gen Collectors were also more likely to purchase art from their mobile devices: 56% said they prefer to buy via a mobile website or app.
  • Two-thirds of respondents (67%) said they buy art to build a collection; 47% said supporting artists was a principal motivator; and 46% said they collect to be inspired. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) said collecting art is one of their greatest passions.

For more on these key takeaways, as well as additional analysis, download the full report on Artsy.

Benjamin Sutton