Online art marketplace Bluethumb has successfully closed a $1-million Series A round to go towards platform development and their Indigenous Art Centre outreach program.
The investment was driven by QUT Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA) together with Grand Prix Capital, and followed on from founders and existing investors such as Adam Schwab, the co-founder of Lux Group.
The online network of art collectors and buyers aims to empower contemporary Australian artists by giving them an accessible and flexible platform to showcase and sell their art.
Part of their latest capital round will go toward Bluethumb’s Indigenous Art Centre outreach program, where they will hire an art curator to travel to remote communities and teach artists and centre employees how to get their work online.
What is Bluethumb looking to achieve?
“We want to be able to empower any individual artist to become a career artist, no matter where they are located in Australia,” says Bluethumb co-founder and Managing Director Edward Hartley.
“Indigenous art plays a major role in the Australian art economy, but many of these artists are located in remote, or ever desert locations, with limited access to art consumers or collectors.”
“We’re looking forward to furthering our involvement with these regional centres and helping them understand the Bluethumb platform so their art can be appreciated worldwide.”
The Bluethumb and CEA relationship goes back to 2015, where Bluethumb won CEA’s Creative3 pitch event which connects investors to creative tech startups. “The founders at Bluethumb impressed us from the start, and the fact they closed their initial seed round in less than 6 weeks after Creative3 was testament to the team and opportunity,” says Anna Rooke, CEO of QUT Creative Enterprise Australia.
“They have a great business with enormous potential in the creative industries, which are valued at more than $90 billion to Australia’s economy.”
“We are very excited to be able to invest in Bluethumb’s future growth and watch their progress and success as they help bring Australian art to the forefront of the global creative economy.”
There are nearly 5000 artists featured on the Bluethumb platform across Australia. The next step for the platform will be finalising a new feature that allows galleries to upload artists’ work online.
How regional art galleries can benefit from the Bluethumb platform
The artists at the Injakak art gallery in Arnhem Land often find themselves blocked off from tourism during the wet season. The Bluethumb platform has allowed them to showcase their artists’ work when they are closed.
“Being so remote, it is often difficult for art tourists and collectors to come out and see the artwork in person,” says Lauren Hicks, Arts and Culture Officer at Injalak Arts.
“We have some amazing indigenous artists working with us and it is great that we can help get their art out there and appreciated by more people in the off season.”
“Bluethumb is a great way to facilitate that because we can not only list the artwork for people to see, but we also have the capacity to sell work. This wet season and over the Christmas break, which is a time of year sales are hard for us due to the roads being closed, we had steady sales on Bluethumb.”