“Gallery & Product ondo” opens “online store ondo”.
“Gallery & Product ondo” opens “online store ondo” to sell mainly artworks.
We at the design company G_GRAPHICS, opened “ondo” in 2013 as our own gallery. As of June 2015, we have held 34 exhibitions with 46 artists. For each exhibition, we worked closely with the artists, carefully communicating so we could put their images & thoughts into shape. Number of visitors and customers grow with each exhibition, and their delightful comments/responses, we feel, leads to our and the artists' growth.
Atsushi Ikeda (director / exhibition planner) and Kaori Matsugi (manager / lead staff) discuss why they launched the online store.
“Our role is to shed light on the artists’ works as well as the artists themselves, and thoughtfully introduce them.” -Matsugi
―What made you start the online store?
Kaori Matsugi (Matsugi)：While we of course have customers/visitors who come to see our gallery, our desire to introduce our artists to a wider range of people grew much stronger. We wanted to create a platform unrestricted by Japanese and overseas boundaries to borderlessly showcase our artists.
― When did you start to think about that concept?
Matsugi：About a half year after the opening of the gallery. As we started to make products (such as collections of works or books) with artists who exhibited at ondo, we realized how difficult it is to secure steady avenues of sales and distribution. We felt it shouldn’t just end with making products; that it was important to increase the products’ availability and permeate them into the world. It was this thought that “we want our own avenue of sales” that was the beginning of the concept for our online retail store. So, initially we didn’t think about selling artworks, but rather had an image of selling products produced collaboratively with the artists.
― Why did you change the concept from products-centered to artwork-centered?
Matsugi：Actually, we were planning to open an online shop selling mainly products last June. However, we realizes that we are best specialized in carefully introducing artists carefully, and feel that our role is not only in producing and selling, but shedding light on the artists along with their works and thoughtfully introducing them.
Atsushi Ikeda (Ikeda)：We realized that that was what we wanted to do. Although it took us about a year into planning and launching the shop to do so (Laugh). Additionally, one of our concepts at ‘ondo’ is “art up daily life”, and we thought we need to create more chances to get art out in a different way than through the gallery. Also, we thought that artists would also be happy that we could make a good environment for them to keep creating art.
―How would you describe the relationship between ondo and the artists involved in the online store?
Ikeda：We hope artists can grow as they share their ideas. So, in regard to the online store, we want to run this together with the artists. Not that they will just give their works to us just to sell them, but rather to create a relationship with the artists that allows them to grow in their careers and as artists while they are connecting to society.
―Does it mean we’ll be introduced to the artists who’ve yet to have ondo gallery exhibitions?
Matsugi：We don’t have any artists like that yet but that developing relationships like that is very interesting to us. It will surely be stimulating for us to work with artists who we collaborate with. Of course, communication is the first step. Here, the online store, there are artworks that were exhibited at ondo before, but some are newly created for the online store, so this is also a place for the artists to release their new works.
Ikeda：For solo or group exhibition, they basically draw some works under one theme, but for here (online store), they can, for example, experiment or publish artworks with different touch. So we hope that this will be a place for expand artists’ to expand their potential while getting responses from customers.
―To be honest, I think there is a kind of hurdle to sell artworks online. What do you think about that?
Matsugi：There is indeed a hurdle. People’s purchasing of art is limited by its price. As well as if the customer is interested in a piece or not. However, if the artist and their works are introduced carefully, we think that some part of the hurdle can be cleared. So, for the online store, in addition to constantly adding new artworks, we are planning to create a range of contents (such as interviews and artists’ about the artists). With the content getting customers interested and able to feel the value of the art by introducing the artists’ personality, creative process and attitude towards works, we think they will be motivated to buy their works.
Ikeda：Utilizing our experience from the gallery, we are confident that we can design content that will allow us to convey an artists’ appeal even though it’s online. Our connection with the artists grows with the amount of exhibitions. Ideally, we would like to directly convey the artists’ thoughts with everyone if we could, but, of course, that’s impossible. We feel that online will be a different, but important, way to distribute information. We want the gallery and online store to be strongly linked and share the artists’ appeal with many people.
“I want this place to be a hub where many people will visit and contact” -Ikeda
―I think should be noted that all text is translated into English.
Ikeda：Artists are getting an increasing amount of experience and opportunities overseas (from sales, to exhibits and collaborations). However, there seems to be a language barrier -responses to international inquiries tend to be late or go unreplied and things don’t work smoothly. They’re ruining opportunities, which is a shame, isn’t it? It’s unnatural not to take any action just because of a language barrier.
Matsugi：We’ve felt it strange that even though artworks themselves doesn’t need any words, the viewers are only by Japanese people. If they get attention from more people, they will get more evaluations or responses, so we wanted to show our openness to an international audience. We’ve received requests from Netherlands and Taiwan through ondo’s website, and sold our products to them, but we found that without a proper system, it takes time and burdens customers with regard to, such as, payment or shipping fees. Now that we can sell works and products without causing any stress to the customers, we’re looking forward to getting responses from overseas, too.
―What sort of possibilities do you think will arise for the artists with the improved international connections?
Ikeda：Within the past year, our connections within Japan have broadened, with exhibitions having toured in Tokyo, Nagoya and Tokushima in addition to Osaka. Similarly, we would like to expand connections to the world without borders. It is natural that exhibitions or works are to spread regardless of domestic or international borders, and that should be that way for the artists. We can support artists with overcoming language barriers when they receive requests from overseas, we would like to work with them in making our presence known internationally.
Matsugi：Having an English page will also help in showcasing that.
Ikeda：We hope that this online store will be like a hub where many people will visit and connect. We think this hub won’t stay in the same place, but change along with our and our artists’ growth. Now that we have two places where we can grow together, we’re excited about the attention our future exhibitions and movements will receive.
Born in Shiga, Japan. After graduating from design school, cut his teeth in a printing company, then worked at a design company and an advertisement company, before establishing his own design company/office/agency, G_graphics, in July 2009. Works as a creative director for various cases, and also coordinates projects for ondo, their gallery and product label.
Born in Ehime. After gaining experience in several design companies, established G_graphics with Ikeda. Specializes in soft, feminine design and runs ondo, their gallery and product label.
Interview and text by Yuki Nishikawa (G_GRAPHICS.INC)
Photo by y a y o i https://www.facebook.com/kyarry.waterstory?fref=ts