Born on a Sunday night in 2007, Jen Bekman’s formula for 20x200 was relatively simple: (limited editions x low prices) + the internet = art for everyone. But could it be pulled off? With the help of her dedicated team, the site was up and running and quickly garnered a slew of press. Since then, 20x200 has grown to include two new editions each week (one photo and one work on paper), most starting at just $20 for an 8”x10” edition. Each piece arrives at your door with certificate of authenticity, numbered and signed by the artist, as well as instructions for care of your print. But perhaps best of all, the site offers such a broad range of styles, media, and subjects, that there is truly something for everyone. Jen Bekman sat down with us to share some insight into her art-filled world, and offer some advice for both collectors and artists alike.
StyledOn: With 20x200, you've done an incredible service to both artists and art collectors alike. What has been the greatest reward for you personally since you started the company?
Jen Bekman: It’s really hard to single out the one thing that’s the most rewarding. There’s a lot of satisfaction in building a good business that’s also a good business – we’re all driven by a somewhat idealistic set of values. I love that the people I work with love their jobs, and strive to create a great place for them to work. I also love sending artists big checks and, on the flip side of that, hearing stories from collectors who thought they’d never collect art and now find themselves running out of wall space.
SO: Do you collect pieces from your 20x200 artists? Any favorites?
JB: I have a diverse collection of art that includes prints and photographs we’ve released on 20x200, and consider myself fortunate to own several of the original works we’ve based editions on. As evidenced on the site, my tastes are pretty eclectic, but text, animals, bright colors and bold graphical elements are probably the most common themes in the work that hangs on my own walls.
SO: What is your advice to aspiring artists looking to sell their work, either on a large or small scale?
JB: Artists need to participate in the marketing of themselves and their work. A dealer is a partner, and being a good partner can lead to great things, so be professional, responsible and engaged. Seek out opportunities and make the most of the ones that come your way. Also know that the process is a marathon, not a sprint–don’t pursue a single goal doggedly but realize that it might be the cumulative effect of getting out there and being in the mix that ultimately yields the greatest rewards. A genuine interest and engagement in the community and the programs of the galleries and/or institutions that are most interesting to you are crucial. And don’t give up! There are many outlets to get your work out there, including 20x200, which are breaking the traditional mold of how art is being presented, bought and sold.
SO: Of the artists whose work has been featured on 20x200, are there any up-and-comers we should start buying up now, before they blow up big time?
JB: Buy art that you love. That’s my first and last rule of collecting. If there’s no way to talk yourself out of future value as a consideration, then the higher profile artists we’ve worked with — like Mike + Doug Starn or Lawrence Weiner — or artists who’ve hit significant career milestones since first releasing prints with us — like Nina Berman, Brian Ulrich, Beth Dow, Brad Moore and Curtis Mann — will probably be the most appealing. Keep an eye on all our updates in the newsletter, on our blog, Twitter and Tumblr feeds to get updates on recent accomplishments from our artists. But ultimately, buy a work because you love it and want to live with it—that experience in and of itself is ample reward.
SO: What are three things you’re obsessed with now?
JB: Ice cream, a beach house and art books of every kind.
SO: Can you tell us something about yourself we wouldn't expect?
JB: I didn’t have a single piece of art hanging on my walls when I first opened my gallery in 2003. And, although I’d amassed a considerable collection in the intervening years, I didn’t make my first formal purchase through a gallery until 2007 – after 20x200 had launched!
Have you shopped 20x200 yet? What's hanging on your walls?