LONDON – The art world equivalent of a dating app: this’s the idea behind a subscription service starting here on July 31st, which aims to connect artists with collectors without asking for a commission.
Stacie McCormick, an American-born artist and gallery director, came up with what she hopes will be an alternative to an art market where the chances are high against newcomers.
Currently, most transactions between artists and buyers are handled by a small number of large galleries that represent established names and charge significant commissions.
Ms McCormick running Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop, an exhibition space and artist’s residence in a former hardware wholesaler in West London. The glass-fronted space also features some of her own art: large, swirling abstract works inspired by Asian calligraphy.
“You have a top-down industry. There are these wonderful elite galleries that bring phenomenal artists to the world, ”said me. McCormick said in an interview in space. “But between the environment and on the ground, there are very few access points.”
She noted that there are artists who are not represented, worth discovering, and that many consumers are eager to discover it, but few places where the two can intersect.
She described her app, Fair Art Fair, as “A Tinder for Artists and Collectors. It’s a way to make the meeting easier, ‘she said. After all, “in almost every industry, the middleman has been cut out.”
To join, artists pay £ 15 (approximately $ 21) for a monthly subscription that includes an account in which they can store and display images of works and also initiate business transactions, such as drafting an invoice or a certificate of authenticity.
Collectors also have a dedicated virtual space to store images from their collections and complete transactions. Curators can compile an exhibition through the app, virtually or directly, and compile news reports and price lists.
Despite the promise of the app, some in the art world have said that it is very necessary for the app to disrupt the market.
“There’s an increasing need and an increasing desire on the part of many people to provide alternatives to the art trade,” said Allan Schwartzman, a New York-based. art advisor.
Is the app ‘something that becomes a parallel reality, or becomes a meaningful alternative?’ he asked. “I think it can go either way,” he said, depending on who used it.
Mr. Schwartzman made an analogy with smaller art scholarships taking place at the same time and as the most important. These are not necessarily ‘places where you would ever want to buy something’, he noted. Although they can achieve ‘measured success’, the two worlds do not penetrate each other. ‘
The app grew out of mrs. McCormick’s gallery and workshop, which she created in 2015 to try to recreate the kind of nurturing and communal atmosphere she enjoyed while pursuing a master’s degree at a London art school.
At unit 1, artists in the residence donate a work for sale, which goes into the gallery collection and is included in exhibitions curated by me. McCormick was compiled. The gallery then produces a limited print series based on the work that generates revenue.
Mrs. McCormick said the space had lost money for the first five years and that the pandemic would have closed it completely, had it not been for £ 35,000 (about $ 48,000) in emergency funding from Arts Council England, the body that provides government grants to cultural institutions handed out, did not distribute.
That small initial lifeline was followed by an extra infusion of £ 150,000, which also enabled McCormick to develop and launch the app. She said she needs between 1,000 and 1,500 monthly subscribers to cover her expenses.
Radhika KhimjiAn Omani artist in London whose work is represented by galleries in Vienna and Kolkata, India, said she tried a few years ago to connect with collectors through various commission-based programs, but was unsuccessful. do not have. “Online is a pretty saturated space,” she said.
With the pandemic, “people are going to do a lot more shopping” online, and her own Instagram stream is getting more attention than before, she said. The ability of the app to automatically generate paperwork can be ‘very beneficial’, she noted.
But to rise, the app must live up to its promises and have the promotion of prominent personalities and publications in the art world, she added. “It’s all about credibility.”
Mr. Schwartzman said the new collectors he encountered were typically ‘much richer’ and ‘much busier’ than previous generations of new collectors, and ‘comfortable spending at a very high price that collectors would take in past decades to achieve as ever. ”
Despite Fair Art Fair’s quest to establish a degree of equity, ‘art at the end of the day is not fair,’ he said. “Genius does not increase with the amount of money it wants to buy.”
The app has a good chance of success if it is ‘very well put together and focused’, he said, if the information was ‘well organized’, and if a process was in place to attract high quality work.