How Online Ceramics Keeps Its Cool
A year ago, the former New Zealand National Bank president, who’d once been a “cheerleader” for the internet, started a website to sell his wares, ceramics he’d collected from some of the world’s most renowned artists.
After months of painstaking labour, he’d managed to unearth works of art by the world’s most famous and influential painters, sculptors, architects, and other artists – but his work wasn’t for sale. He simply wanted to sell and swap ceramics with others.
“He was a realist and someone who understood that while it was true that technology is good for our society, there is a limit to how far we want us to take it,” says Bill Slee, the former art director for the New Zealand Herald, who first published an advertisement for one of the artists whose works Mr Stokes had found on his website.
“It’s like a story in which you learn that people are being killed by the same type of weapons that killed the guy you love. That’s the tragedy.”
In the weeks after the website went live, he got dozens of e-mails asking to buy. But the website itself quickly became a haven for collectors, people who buy and sell unique works of art, from paintings to statues, and who come to buy art in the hope of finding its best known successor.
It has been an extraordinary year for the online ceramics community.
The site has sold nearly two million ceramics and spawned an art fair in the north of France this week featuring ceramics and other artists from around the world. The “Pauwel’s Picks” gallery is the most visited website in New Zealand, and it has helped spark an art craze that is sweeping the country and beyond, sparking interest in art from all over the world and creating an online community of artists who trade, sell and swap their works for the sheer love of it. So far, there are about 30,000 visitors to the website – and as of today, it has sold more than three million ceramics and has generated nearly $2m in revenue.
“When I first started the site some years ago, I