Brian Sharples of Twyla sat down with State of the Art’s Ethan Appleby to discuss bringing fine art to the people. Former Homeaway CEO Brian Sharples now heads the Austin-based start-up Twyla, which creates limited edition fine art prints using cutting edge technology to scan and reproduce artworks at a price point that enables the artworks to be enjoyed by the masses.

This week’s episode discussion centers on how Twyla helps to remove difficulty in selling art online, how they use technology to create an Apple-esque experience, and how big Brian thinks the market can be for the category in between posters and original Picasso’s.


Top 5 Takeaways:


1.) Why do people buy art? According to Brian, there are three reasons people buy art.

“People buy art for three reasons. They’re gonna buy it either for investment and a number of people do. People buy art for beauty, they’re trying to enhance their spaces they like to look at it, that’s probably the primary reason people buy art. And the 3rd reason people buy art is because of the story behind it. It maybe that they can relate to artist and it maybe they can relate to the piece itself, it may be a geographic connection to that piece or that person.”


2.) Food, Sex, and Art. What you can’t experience online. 

I remember going to a presentation I think it was a woman who was running post-war and contemporary from Sotheby’s and she was speaking about the online art market. And I stood up and I asked her a question which was just trying to get her read on how high can online penetration ever go? And she said look Brian, there’s only three things that you still really can’t experience fully online; One of them is food, one of them is sex and one of them is art.”


3.)  For Twyla, combining quality art with great design is the sweet spot. A common thread of the interview conversation is the devotion to beauty that Twyla hopes to help people cultivate.

“I think…what people like about the brand is that Twyla is sort of straddling in the line between being fine art authorities. For example, we have curators from some of the top galleries in the world who work here. But also, combining that with interior design authority, so we also have top interior designers who work here, and our philosophy is that we want to combine quality art with great design. In that sense, what we have found at Twyla is that where we are resonating best is in fact with people who are trying to make their homes beautiful.”


4.) Art isn’t just for museums and galleries- it’s as much an important factor in the home as your couch. Twyla focuses on working with the interior design industry in many cases to get that across.

“My belief is that if we can really combine that art industry quality with that design on and deliver a very efficiently to the marketplace, that that will open up a much bigger market than the traditional art market. Because now, you’re looking at the decor business which is orders of magnitude larger than just the art market itself combined with the art market. And I think for what we do it’s a multi-billion-dollar market potential.”


5.)  A personal, in-depth connection with the artists makes all the difference for buyers. The internet allows for artists and art professionals to create better experiences for collectors and those interested in collecting by facilitating these connections with social media and online platforms.

“What the Internet does allow you to do and I think quite a bit better than a typical gallery experience is to let you drill kind of as deep on the piece, the artist, the background as they want. And so, we do invest a lot of time and money and when we bring a new artist on board going out to their studio, interviewing them, doing photo shoots, taking film of them in the studio, researching their backgrounds and making sure as much of that’s available online or customers as possible.”


Check out Brian Sharples and Twyla now on our new podcast series State of the Art. Don’t forget to subscribe and review! And take a look at our Instagram to see what’s next on State of the Art.