Many of us possibly feel we don't "belong" at an art auction. For Highsnobiety readers specifically, the reasoning for this might have something to do with an ingrained feeling that traditional art auction houses are old-time institutions that either don't cater to our tastes or leave us isolated by their omnipresent sense of exclusivity. But, working out of its office space in New York's Lower East Side, Paddle8 is trying to change that.

Championing artworks and artists very much in our wheelhouse, Paddle8 was founded in 2011 with the intention of disrupting the traditional art world. In the eight years of its existence, it's safe to say that mission has been accomplished in more ways than one. So, ahead of its particularly interesting street art auction next month, here are just some of the reasons you should start building your art collection via Paddle8.

It's up your street

Paddle8 was the first art auction house to bring street art into the mainstream, championing works by the likes of Shepard Fairey, Invader, RETNA, FAILE, and D*Face, to name a few. Catching wind of an audience that desired to build an art collection but didn't necessarily know quite how to, the completely digital platform has become a destination for everything from rare toys to limited edition sneakers.

"In this ever-changing world of fast fashion and quickly shifting consumer preferences among younger demographics, Paddle8 has always stayed strong and true to its cause of celebrating modern culture," says Paddle8 CEO Izabela Depczyk. "By partnering with Highsnobiety, we welcome and support the recent explosion of street art, style, and urban wear culture."

At its street art auction in June 2018, Paddle8 auctioned off items such as KAWS' Wood Hand for the first time ever, which hammered at four times its high price estimate. But the catalog doesn't begin and end with the street artists you already know. Tune into Paddle8's carefully curated auctions and, as well as original Banksy's, you'll be plugged into a whole new stream of art and collectibles from our world, with something for every budget.

It's for digital natives

Another Paddle8 first is its digitalization of an industry that has most commonly existed in dusty old warehouses. It's something that might now be considered the norm, but as little as seven years ago, buying art digitally seemed impossible. The company's recent launch of P8Pass, a blockchain-powered authentication service that reduces transaction costs while offering a whole new level of security, is a further example of how Paddle8 continues to disrupt the art market.

But at the core of its business values is Paddle8's dedication to inclusivity. As an online platform, it offers easier access to art and other collectibles for a global audience who don't necessarily feel at home in galleries or brick-and-mortar auction houses.

For a better idea of just how far removed the Paddle8 team is from the stuffy world of elitist art auction houses, three out of five of its execs are women, its CEO hails from Poland, and its chief technology officer is from India. Peer into its new Norfolk Street, NYC HQ on a Friday afternoon and you'll likely see its millennial staff enjoying tacos and sipping ice-cold beers together.

It's bringing altruism to art

On top of making available amazing works by some of the most prolific street artists out there and putting us on to those lesser-known talents, Paddle8 is all about giving back. Working with more than 250 nonprofits and charities every year, the company partners with causes it cares about and hosts auctions to fundraise on their behalf. Recent causes supported include HIV/AIDS research agency ACRIA and the Penumbra Workspace Program, which helps emerging artists with time, workspace, resources, and support.

Along with its benefit auctions, Paddle8 often supports its charity partners through sponsorship and cash donations, plus in-kind donations through marketing and promotions produced at cost.

It's just getting started

Paddle8 has only scratched the surface of its potential so far. The objective is to become something of a NET-A-PORTER of the art world. Alongside championing artists and art forms geared more toward young people with the increased spending power and insatiable desire to collect, there's no telling just how far Paddle8 can go. A case in point is its recent endeavors in direct merchant-to-artist partnerships.

"Paddle8 is inclusive and open-minded and does not hesitate to break the norm with atypical auction house partnerships, collaborating directly with emerging and established artists," says street art specialist Sarah Sperling. "While Paddle8 has always been the top platform for street and urban art – from editions to toys – now there's the ability to offer a wide range of original works to reach a broader range of collectors."

Paddle8 launches its 2019 street art auction on March 5.

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