The art industry is one to bloom late online. Major deals are usually cut offline at auctions, at reputable galleries or behind the scenes between collectors and dealers. It's certainly driven by word of mouth. When collectors invest in an artist's work, they do everything to showcase it and talk about it and recommend it to others, so that the demand for the artist increases and their investment gains value.
The high-end art world is truly an imperfect market. Information is in the hands of select collectors and few reliable communication channels. Sure you can walk into a gallery or go to an online site and pick a few paintings, but do you really know what you are getting? Probably not. Is there a public reference system like the stock market to see which blue chip name is going up or down? Not really.
The newly launched site Blue Label offers a fresh and simple approach to seeing works of art and getting accurate information on them. Artists can post images of their works and label them (title, medium) securely. Each painting is assigned a Blue Lable code. While the site doesn't have sales data, collectors can follow artists, look up art works and catalogue items that are in their own collections. Through shared knowledge, the database grows and becomes an accurate referral guide for art enthusiasts.
The site has a membership fee of several hundred dollars, which might make some artists think twice about posting before Blue Label proves its worth and deters amateurs. Nonetheless, it is a refreshing initiative for an industry that largely kept to traditional ways of doing business.