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Telsem an online art gallery and ecommerce platform that allows painters in Ethiopia to showcase their work digitally and tap into a broad market base has launched its service.

The art marketplace that comes with online payment options, international shipping, and consulting service was developed in-house by Transcend Digital Crafts with a capital of 200,000 birr.

Telsem which aspires to solve Ethiopian painters’ challenges in selling their paintings, was founded by Abraham Yilma in 2021.

“Art galleries in the capital charge up to 50pc commission per artwork sold. The management of artworks is also unreliable at times, as there are uncertainties among artists about whether their art is sold or not,” Abraham told Shega.

Telsem is advantageous to painters because it charges a 10-20% commission on artwork sold on its platform.

Abraham states that the art market in Ethiopia is getting more encouraging compared to previous years, as he has seen different tourists, individuals, hotels and restaurants, diasporas, and collectors buy from Telsem.

Abraham, who graduated in computer science last year, chose the name Telsem, as the Geez word refers to a unique, spiritual, and ancient art technique in Ethiopia used for art therapy and religious scenery.

Telsem art gallery

To get their works displayed on the website, artists must first send their profile and portfolio to Telsem. Telsem’s advisory board and the Ethiopian Visual Artists Association examine the painter’s abilities and skills and whether the art meets specific qualifications.

The website includes all the features and functionalities that let artists present their paintings in the best light possible. It also gives all the information and functionalities buyers may require to make purchasing decisions.

On Telsem, customers can choose from a plethora of artworks, including oil, acrylic, mixed media, and paper mosaic.

The artists set the price of their artwork, and Telsem takes its commission on the sale and charges the buyer for delivery. As a startup, the platform has onboarded 25 artists and sold 25 paintings.

To create a user experience, the website produces mockups of a particular artwork in different areas of a house.

After clients select their preferred art, they place the order using online payment options. Currently, Telsem uses Yenepay as a payment gateway for local payments and MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal for international payments. Telsem is also in the process of integrating Chapa into the platform.

Telsem delivers ordered artwork using its own vehicle at the desired time and place. If clients are unhappy with the painting and it appears different from the photo uploaded on the site, Telsem has a 7-day return policy. Abraham states that Telsem has not received any complaints or such requests until now.

Abraham added that Telsem has an exclusive agreement with the Ethiopian Visual Artists Association to be the only online partner and to contribute 2% of the profits to the organization.

Additionally, Telsem works with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Addis Ababa culture and tourism bureau.

Shera, another player in the scene launched its platform last year and offers is a digital marketplace for professional and amateur photographers, graphic designers, digital artists, and painters.

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