Using Social Media to Attract New Audiences to the Arts

Theodora Clarke, coach on Startup Weekend Art London, started with a blog 18 months ago. Her online magazine is now read by more than 60,000 people worldwide.



She has shared with us how to use social media to attract new audiences to the arts, from her own successful experience:

There is no denying the power of social media and how it can impact on cultural organisations from huge museums, like Tate or the National Gallery, through to small organisations such as my blog Russian Art and Culture. Our website publishes the best reviews, articles and news on Russian art, related exhibitions and interesting cultural events worldwide.


When I set up Russian Art and Culture in 2011 I never expected it to become a business.  The original project was a free blog that I built myself with no computer coding background and maintained at weekends whilst I was a student. It was through social media that I gradually built up a community of followers, and turned the blog into a website which now publishes a print magazine and organises a major art fair Russian Art Week.

Facebook and Twitter were fundamental to our success as they allowed the site to be found by academics, curators, researchers and members of the public with an interest in Russian art and culture who we would never have been able to reach by traditional means.


Social media acts as a direct link to our readership. Not only does it allow us to advertise the events that we promote, but readers can connect with us and interact by putting forward their events for us to promote. With the majority of our readership using one or more of these mobile platforms, we are able to reach people around the world and also provide a more approachable, human side to our organisation.


We live in a global community where people are now all connected through the internet. The conventional advantages of ‘word of mouth’ advertising are now amplified through social media. People trust the opinions of their peers, so a ‘Like’ on Facebook is a significant endorsement. We have seen that through social media a new ‘Like’ will also attract the attention of friends and allows awareness of our website and organisation to grow organically. Here are my top tips for effective social media use:


  • Social media posts shouldn’t be too text heavy, images and graphics attract attention a great deal more attention. For example tweeting images of works in your collection, Tate is a good example of this.
  • Engage as much as possible – keep it up to date and with plenty of information.
  • Modify your posts to the type of social media platform you are using; Facebook and Twitter are used in different ways.
  • Keep the quality of your posts to a high standard – don’t post absolutely everything.
  • Build up a community before you use social media for advertising.


Proactively using social media is a huge benefit, but it is also important to consider your search engine optimisation. Tagging website posts with appropriate key words will help your site to appear in Google search results. Using key words rather than numbers to label your images and key words for your website post titles will also contribute to Google search results. If you are publishing content from another website, such as our event listings, your website will appear fairly low on the list of Google search results, so it is important to post unique content.


Data capture tools are invaluable in order to monitor how your website and social media outlets are being used. We use the free email and marketing distributor MailChimp, which allows us to view statistics on the open rate and click rate of our emails and campaigns. Google Analytics is a free data capture tool which allows a better understanding of the demographics of our website visitors, and how they use the website. Through this tool we discovered that the most read pages on our website were our news page, job page, and article page. This enabled us to develop and improve these areas. We also check our visitors’ location, and the ratio of new and returning visitors. In November 2013 11% of visitors to Russian Art and Culture had been referred through social media, which attests to the importance of keeping our social media updated and relevant. Using these data capture tools has really impacted on how we direct our information.


It is wise for any cultural organisation, no matter the size, to invest in a strong media strategy in order to engage with readers and customers. Successfully taking advantage of these outlets will no doubt bring greater awareness and attention to your organisation. I would strongly recommend engaging as much as possible with social media, using data capture tools to monitor web traffic and modify accordingly, and considering your search engine optimisation.

Theodora Clarke: how a passion for Russian art led to managing the online community and arts listing of reference

Theodora Clarke Photo Small Headshot

Theodora Clarke is founder and editor of the online arts magazine Russian Art & Culture. She also set up Russian Art Week in London and publishes a bi-annual guide to this major event. She built her company from a blog that she started at university. Through social media and blogging she has become an established art historian, lecturer and critic specialising in Russian art and European modernism.

She will coach at Startup Weekend Art London and you can follow russian art news and her personally on twitter.


What is it exactly that you do and what is your start-up/company all about?

I am editor of Russian Art and Culture, an online community and arts listings hub that focuses on Russian culture both in the UK and abroad. We provide articles, reviews, interviews and listings of Russian cultural events. We also publish the official guide to the biannual Russian Art Week, which features auctions of Russian art, exhibitions, concerts and auxiliary events. Russian Art and Culture also organises events such as talks, conferences, film screenings and panel discussions.


What is your main objective with Russian Art and Culture?

Our goal is to improve understanding and awareness of Russian culture in the West. There is a lack of information and exposure of Russian culture in English, which is what Russian Art and Culture addresses as most foreign websites are in Cyrillic and are infrequently updated. I identified that there was a lack of a single source of information for the general public, collectors and curators of Russian art worldwide. We now provide constantly updated and accurate information on all Russian cultural events taking place and aim to become a global hub.


What is your audience?

We have an audience of over 60,000 readers. We act as a bridge between the academic and commercial art worlds and the wider general public with an interest in Russian art. Our readers include academics, Russian art specialists, Russian art collectors, students, gallerists, auction houses representatives, and the Russian diaspora.


That’s certainly a wide reach. What’s special about your work?

We differ from other Russian organisations and magazines in that we cover a wide range of content: all aspects of culture from art to music, ballet to theatre, contemporary and historical. We also include listings, job opportunities, and have an academic slant in that we publish conferences and calls for papers. We are unique in covering both academic and commercial content.

Our original blog I built myself in Google Blogger for free with no knowledge of computer coding! We know have a website developer and use a custom built version of WordPress. The original blog went viral through social media platforms and we get a huge amount of traffic from Facebook, Twitter, Mailchimp, Flickr, Instagram, VKontakte, Soundcloud and YouTube.

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What are your core skills?

Marketing, research, journalistic, Russian language. But most importantly we need to publish interesting and creative content to attract readers and grow our community online.

How did you choose and create your team?

Most of our employees started out on work experience placements and often are graduates straight out of university. I believe that if you recruit young people who are passionate about our industry and subject and are willing to learn then they can become a great asset to the team. They have all got good research and social media skills and often come to us speaking multiple languages, set up their own blog or have lived in Russia or worked in a major museum. As we are a small team they all get to do lots of different jobs and build their skills. Lots of our old interns now work for our clients!


What are the top trends you see happening right now in the Russian Art market?

The market for contemporary Russian art is certainly improving. Unfortunately the current political situation has proved problematic, but on the other hand it emphasises the need to an improved understanding of culture for channels of dialogue. Contemporary art is a growing field and also we have expanded into literature, music and theatre as these are very popular with the public.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Be persistent and believe in yourself! Most of my family and friends thought I was crazy when I started a business focusing on Russian culture, especially as I am not even Russian! However, I was passionate about art and their culture. I love Kandinsky’s paintings, Tolstoy’s novels and Tchaikovsky’s music. My blog turned into a business because, without realising it, I had provided a useful hub for information and something which was a resource for people around the world, not just in the UK. The best businesses solve a problem that exists, in my case we have become a global community and hub for all things Russian. It takes a lot of determination and drive to set something up from scratch but I believe anyone can do it if you put your mind to it. My best tip would be to find something you enjoy doing as you are going to be investing a lot of time and energy into the project. Also do your research, why is your company different and what is unique about your product or service?

There are lots of books and blogs out there which can give you advice on how to set up your website, effectively market to customers, increase sales through business development and so on which are all helpful. But don’t forget to ask people’s advice. I must have had hundreds of cups of tea with people who ran totally different companies just to get their perspective on my ideas.  Keep a notebook with all your ideas, good or bad, as you never know when inspiration will strike!


Have you got an idea for improving how we fund, make, share and enjoy art and culture?

Social media has the potential to totally revolutionise the arts. People can share their favourite works in museums, post photographs of little known historial sites and can blog about their works as artist  and so on. Also skype has been incredible providing face to face access so I can simultaneously interview an artist in Moscow, the exhibition curator in New York whist I am in London. Most museums and galleries are now looking at opening up their collections and exhibitions online as ways to interact and build new audiences.


Our fundamental goal is to promote art and culture, through exposure and promotion of events that we ourselves would want to go to. We hope that our magazine and events fulfill this goal as much as possible.

Inspired? We look forward to seeing you at the Startup Weekend Art London in October!

ValueMyStuff: expertise to everyone, anytime. The accessible and transparent auction house

Patrick van der Vorst got his first investment from Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis on Dragon’s Den through his enthusiasm for making the art-identifying and valuing process as approachable as possible and created Value My Stuff.


Patrick will be on the panel of jury at Startup Weekend Art 

With over 469,000 valuations and 400,000 customers Value My Stuff is one of the largest online valuation companies on the market, based in London and New York and recently in LA too.

Follow their tips, quotes and fun news on art and antiques on twitter.


When and why did you set up ValueMyStuff?

In 2009, I set up this easy-to-use website with the goal of providing expertise to everyone. My enthusiasm for making the art-identifying and valuing process as approachable and transparent as possible led me to leave Sotheby’s after 15 years as a Director and Head of the Furniture Department. In 2010, ValueMyStuff appeared on Dragon’s Den, where Patrick received a £100,000 investment from Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis, who are still my current investors. The whole idea for setting up the business was to make the appraisal process more accessible and transparent.


Who does ValueMyStuff appeal to?

ValueMyStuff is a young and innovative valuation company with a team of over sixty experienced and renowned fine art, antiques and collectables specialists who have formerly worked at major international auction houses such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Phillips, and Bonhams. Valuing over 40 collecting fields, ValueMyStuff has been called the “The Antiques Roadshow Online”. With this is mind we have a large range of customers who seek valuations from us. Whether it be antique collectors, shopowners, art market professionals, people who have inherited property from their parents or grandparents, or men and women who wish to decorate their homes and need third party advise when shopping in the confusing and very much daunting market of galleries, antique shops and the new online world.


So tell us about your plans to break the US market…

I have this secret weapon – she’s an Angeleno native who also worked at Sotheby’s and decided to turn her hand at providing art valuations for the masses. She has launched the office in Los Angeles with an aim at capitalizing on the current booming young art tech scene there. Think of LA like Silicon Beach (a mini San Francisco offshoot of Silicon Valley) – a lot of young art tech firms are moving there as its West Coast meets art. With a touch on the pulse, we’ll hire US digital marketing experts who can advertise our services to the critical mass and receive advise from other art professionals who are trying to educate people about art, art history, antique provenance and how to value property. We are also breaking out into much younger forms of advertising like Youtube & Facebook which will truly make our brand familiar to all different communities. We want to show people that we are truly like the Antiques Roadshow online – and even better is that we’re affordable.


Do you find their auction and valuation market is very different to the UK’s?

The key for US expansion is identifying the differences between the UK and the US art & antiques communities. The core question we asked ourselves before opening our US office was – what categories of antiques do Americans wish to have valued? Ultimately, we are all inheritors of stuff so it is important to nail down cultural differences in the individual US states to understand what they wish to have valued and how they wish to be spoken to. Valuing anyone’s antiques is a very personal experience and how we reach Americans is very different then how we reach the British. The first identifiable difference is Americans say “appraisal” rather than “valuation”. This small language difference makes a paragraph about Ceramics valuation incomprehensible to an American but once you change the word to appraisal we open up the communication to the a huge subset of customers.


What are the benefits of having a valuation from ValueMyStuff? Can it help confirm provenance? Is this harder with artworks, especially when working from photographs?

Our proposition and experience provide people with the extra reassurance they need when buying at shops or online. Receiving expert advice allows buyers to negotiate with the knowledge that the Queen Anne Style furniture is actually “in the style of” and not dating back to the early 18th century and worth 80% of the asking price. Our service not only benefits buyers, but also sellers who armed with an auction estimate can dictate to the auction house or on their online listing the price that they wish to receive based on actual market value of the item.

Provenance is confirmed through historical photographs and documentation such as invoices or letters. That being said a valuation can assist in confirming what the photographs or invoices may suggest. For instance, if a grandparent wrote that they were given this silver in Sheffield in the 1800’s, our experts can verify that the silver bears the proper maker’s mark and thus confirm what has been put in writing by our ancestors. Also, our valuations help to identify artists, manufacturers, styles which can then help establish the provenance of the objects. With paintings, specifically artists whose works sells at large international auction houses, our valuations can assist people by recommending the appropriate authentication process for painters such as De Kooning, Van Gogh, Banksy, Henry Moore, or Corot to name a few. By receiving our valuations our customers are armed with knowledge and courses of action to help appreciate their object’s value.

In this modern day and age, providing valuations from photographs has been made easier with technological revolution of smartphones like Samsung and iPhone whose camera technology allows users to take high resolution images from their phones.


Why do they seek valuations from you?

-To sell their item at auction

-valuation for inheritance

-need to provide an accurate value for an insurance company

-report values for tax purposes

-record of value for charitable donation

-artist, maker, or manufacturer identification

-looking to buyer and want to ensure that you are receiving a fair price

-wish to learn more about the history or purpose of the object in question

-want to know whether the unique item has any value


Are you seeing any trends in the types of artwork being presented for valuation?

Our items are as varied as our customers. We value over 60 collecting categories and on a daily basis value objects as diverse as American Tonalist paintings, Tribal Masks and Sculptures, classic cars, pop & film memorabilia to silverware. The most common categories that people send in for valuation tend to be ceramics which most often are Chinese ceramics. There was a large collecting trend from the beginning of the 1900’s  to collect Chinese ceramics which were being exported from China and Taiwan.


Based on your experience, can you highlight any artists whose work:

– is significantly rising in value at the moment

Latin American Art and Artists.

Contemporary Art market as a whole, but only the solid artists remain, with a lot of young artists who had a buzz and short lived success falling by the waste side.

– is worth looking out for in local auctions, car boot sales, etc?

Always – at ValueMyStuff our members of staff score local auctions everyday to see what art is being sold for local estates. Still today there is art by well known artists that is discovered and authenticated at local auctions, estate sales and car boot sales. Most recently, we identified and valued an Egyptian Maul that was purchased for 3 GBP at a car boot sale in Northampton and was valued at 3,000 – 4,000 GBP. There are great finds no matter where you look!

– is a relatively safe investment, holds its value well

The Old Masters and the Impressionist paintings and prints will continue to hold value throughout time. These first painters are the ones who taught us how to see and look at art and will always maintain their significance in the history of art.

– is just starting to become collectable

African Art is just starting to become collectable. The Post-Impressionists and Fauvists like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso uses Tribal Masks and a source of inspiration for their portraits and paintings, however the work did not yet become collectable for the critical mass until today.


Are there any specific genres of artwork that are becoming collectable?

All of the above.


What is your view of the state of the global art market at present?

The global art market is bullish with new collectors from around the globe thirsty for fresh to the market works. The internet is working in the global art market’s favour as news regarding exhibitions, auctions, collections, and museum events is able to reach people through a click of a button. We are seeing dissemination of art market news at a rapid pace and with this access comes greater responsibility for research institutions to provide accurate and up to date information. It is an exciting time to be part of this change from the local to the global and it is certainly a great position for both buyers and sellers. This does, however, mean more competition across the board whether that be for auction houses against one another or for buyers against buyers as “deals” on great pictures are few and far between.


Do you think a ‘bubble’ has formed or is the market’s current strength sustainable?

The question of the bubble is complex – did economists predict the 2008 American housing bubble which led to an international economic crisis? Well like in 2008, some speak about the doom of the art market, but in my view art will remain as a treaty alternative and tangible asset and we can’t see this coming to a halt. Also, if one buys against ,market trends, such as buying good 18th century furniture now, or collect silver, there is only upside possible in the future.


You have a whole raft of other services now under the My Stuff banner. What is the reasoning behind the launch of these services?

After providing valuations for three years, we realized that our customers need to understand the value of their art or antiques was only the first step in the journey to sell or insure their valuables. Our customers not only sought our advice regarding the value of their objects but wanted to know the best place to sell, which conservator to use for restoration or even the most qualified art shipping company to transport their property. After rebranding last year, we added services to insure, auction, exhibit, transport, restore, and store people’s objects online. This makes the platform a one-stop-shop for anything people eventually want to do


How can ExhibitMyStuff increase the value of your work?

Exhibition builds provenance and value of objects. Art and antiques appreciate in value when they have been exhibited at museums. This is why once we have identified an artist or a piece of pop memorabilia we encourage our customers to email us to be included in our property list available for exhibition. Curators often call us to score our database for unique objects to include in their exhibitions. We view this service as value added for our customers just as much as providing assistance with restoration and/or fine art shipping.


Who uses this service? Where might the work be exhibited?

Collectors, curators, and museum owners use our ExhibitMyStuff service. People often associate museums with sculpture and paintings, but there are museums dedicated to Toys, Coca-Coca Cola and Dolls (to name a few) who are always looking to boost their permanent collection with unique, fresh to the market works. ExhibitMyStuff is an important feature of what we do as a research institution.


Why and when did you launch AuctionMyStuff?

We launched AuctionMyStuff after identifying a need amongst our customers. After providing valuations for three years, we realized that our customers need to understand the value of their art or antiques was only the first step in the journey to sell or insure their valuables. Our customers not only sought our advice regarding the value of their objects but wanted to know the best place to sell, which conservator to use for restoration or even the most qualified art shipping company to transport their property. After rebranding last year, we added services to insure, auction, exhibit, transport, restore, and store people’s objects online. This makes the platform a one-stop-shop for anything people eventually want to do.


What are the advantages of buying from AuctionMyStuff?

AuctionMyStuff gives a buying advantage to all our customers who believe in the collaborative consumption platform but do need that additional reassurance that what they are buying is as marketed. AuctionMyStuff comes with the added benefit of our regulatory body ValueMyStuff where items are accompanied by the item’s initial expert valuation. In this way, buyers can feel satisfied not only that the item’s description is correct but that the value is correctly placed among the market. This is why the P2P selling platform and online marketplaces like eBay get a bad reputation – a lack of a third party regulatory body. It seems like the best analogy is a democratic government analogy and we have put that check and balance system into place for buyers (and sellers).


What are the advantages of selling on AuctionMyStuff?

The advantages of selling on AuctionMyStuff is to sell to buyers who are dedicated to art, antiques and collectables. Also, once a valuation is received,  listing is a swift two step process with no listing fees, no unsold fees, in addition to the fact that the item does not travel or leave the seller until they have been paid. The AuctionMyStuff selling commission is lower than international auction houses in addition to the fact that there are no hidden fees. Also, the estimate you receive as a seller is true market value and not pitched at a level that would make it attractive to buyers without protecting the value to the seller.


Are you an art collector yourself? If so, please tell me a bit about your collection.

I am a Post War, Modern and Contemporary art collector with a passion for antique furniture. I am always looking for new contemporary artists who cast a new glance on painting or drawing. One of my favorite artists is Yves Klein. His blues cheer up my blues so to speak!


How do you decide what to buy?

In this world we need beautiful and inspiring things to infiltrate our everyday lives – some people get this from music, others through words and then some of us through art. Inhabiting a space is a creative act and I choose to express myself through the art that I collect.


Why collect art?

Why not? Art is life affirming. As we fill and arrange our homes with personal artifacts, they become reflections of our inner selves. It is a way of expressing the everyday, the fantastical or the mundane.Whether canvas, board, paper or bronze the way perception can be manipulated, changed, or distorted through seeing a different way is beautiful and often surprising. There is a great quote from art critic Matthew Goulish which reflects how I feel about collecting:

“We may agree on the premise that each work of art is at least in part perfect, while each critic is at least in part imperfect. We may then look to each work of art not for its faults and shortcomings, but for its moments of exhilaration, in an effort to bring our own imperfections into sympathetic vibration with these moments, and thus effect a creative change in ourselves. These moments will of course be somewhat subjective, and if we don’t see one immediately, we will out of respect look again, because each work contains at least one, even if by accident. We may look at the totality of the work in the light of this moment – whether it be a moment of humor or sadness, an overarching structural element, a mood, a personal association, a distraction, an honest error, anything that speaks to us.”–Matthew Goulish


What tips would you give for investing wisely?

In one of my recent blogs for the Huffington Post, I spoke about the collecting contemporary art and people’s obsession with collecting for investment purposes rather than for the love of collecting. Most ask whether they should buy art and antiques as an investment, which any collector will vehemently deny as the best course of action; but all the same the question is a valid one.

It is such a hot topic of conversation because people are constantly trying new ways to hedge their bets by following a collecting trend and in doing so receive more for their investment.

The collector Sir David Tang, Founder of Shanhai Tang and Owner of the China Club, said when it comes to collecting, “The only question I ask is: when I wake up and get out of bed, would I want to see it? You have to like the picture. I can ‘t think of anything more ridiculous than someone wanting to buy a painting for their fireplace or to fit a certain space. The moment you ask where you’re going to hang it, you’re asking the wrong question.”

I echo Sir David Tang’s thoughts regarding the importance of buying art that you wish to see and art that will continue to be aesthetically pleasing in the early morning before the coffee has hit your cerebral epicenter. However, the question of what or who to collect is still valid as it is hard to imagine the person who wishes to buy an object projected to depreciate in the near future.


What tips would you give for deciding when to sell?

My best advice would be to sell when you are ready to part with an item; being forced to sell because of economic pressures is never a fun way to sell. That being said, a good way to know when to sell is to follow market and seasonal trends. Predicting the market, whether financial or art, can seem like an opaque process for those who do not live and breathe the relevant news and results. The advice that I can give, and do give people, is to become familiar with the auction season and the different auction houses. Look at results and see what people are selling – ask yourself what does well and think of the reasons why?


Inspired? We look forward to seeing you at Startup Weekend Art London in October!


Turn your smartphone into a museum guide with ArtGuru

Marco De Sentis is the CEO and Founder of ArtGuru, an innovative museum guide solution.


Follow them on facebook and twitter.

Cristian Civera, CTO, will be available to mentor attendees at the Startup Weekend Art London, on October 3-5. Check him out on twitter.


What is ArtGuru?

ArtGuru is a new generation audio guide for museums, with image recognition and artificial intelligence. We provide added value to museums thanks to our analytics and marketing systems


Finally a solution to upgrade museum guides?

Modern audio guide systems aren’t modern at all: they simply aren’t capable of providing the users an experience even close to what we’ve used today with our devices. At the same time, from the museum point of view, they’re expensive to purchase, to maintain and keep up to date.

screenshot1ArtGuru screenshot2 - Copyscreenshot3

Who are you selling ArtGuru to?

Although the ultimate consumers are the users & art lovers, we primary talk to museums willing to jump onto our platform.


How do you work with museums?

ArtGuru is easy & quick to set up, the image recognition allows us to work without needing any infrastructure provided by the museums. Once we sign a deal, the guide is usually ready within a week, and thanks to our online CMS, museums are for the very first time able to modify and maintain the content themselves directly.

And you know what? All the process is surprisingly easy & straightforward: if you want your ArtGuru, just go to, signup and your tailored audio guide will be ready on the store in a week. Just a quick example: a museum in Milan signed up to ArtGuru on the 5th of September; they had a “Chagall & The Bible” exhibition starting on 17th September. Of course their ArtGuru was ready & running for the opening day. Visitors are using it right now, and the museum is making revenues out of it. Could you imagine doing this, so quickly, with a traditional audio guide system?


You seem to be using pretty advanced technology

Image recognition is a science still in its initial stage, so there are a few algorithms and techniques which are very well known. We kept and combined some of them in order to build a reliable system. Plus, we ported it into your phone, it runs smoothly and it doesn’t require any active internet connection.


What brought the ArtGuru’s team together?

Tech & mathematical skills, love for art and a number of connections into the art world

The founders have been friends for a long time, and have worked together in a number of projects. We choose people who share with us the passion for technology and arts.

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What are the biggest changes in the museum world?

Many museums are starting using social media not only to promote their activities, but also to integrate them and to cooperate with each other. There are many “social events” that arise each week, almost spontaneously: all they need is a hashtag, such as #askacurator or #museumweek, and you see a number of museums, belonging to different countries, interacting among each other, with artists and art lovers.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Don’t be afraid to fail, failing is learning, and learning is the key to succeed.


What’s ArtGuru mission?

We want to create a new kind of comprehensive experience for ArtGuru users, that would go beyond the boundaries of a specific museum and adapt to the users’ tastes. We’ve already implemented some key elements in ArtGuru, and further updates will be available in the coming weeks.

With ArtGuru we want to enhance how people interact with the art in museums, and we’re also opening a channel to let the museums reach their visitors. This, we believe, is of great interest and value to museums. A little revolution in terms of interaction between the museum and the art lovers and, at the end of the day, a brand new way to promote art.

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Inspired? We look forward to seeing you at the Startup Weekend Art London in October!

Rise Art helps you discover art that fits you and your home. Made possible through a love of tech and art

Rise Art Founder and CTO, Marcos Steverlynck will be available during the Startup Weekend Art London to code with you and answer your questions. You can also find him on Twitter.


Follow RiseArt on twitter and facebook.

There are many online galleries, how is Rise Art different?

Rise Art was created to help make collecting original art easy and risk free for everyone. Started by two close friends, the company is driven by a passion for art, technology and helping artists support and expand their practice.

We’re building an online platform that makes discovering new art easy and fun. All of the artwork for sale on Rise Art has been hand picked by the experts. We work with top graduate degree programs, galleries and museums to provide our members with access to an incredible array of contemporary artwork across price points.

To help you get started, we’ve designed a free art style quiz. Take the quiz, and we’ll put together a unique collection of artwork tailored to you. Follow artists and favourite works you like, and we’ll update your guide accordingly.

We also believe in great customer service and understand that art is hard to buy online. Our art rental service lets you try before you buy for a low monthly rate and flexible returns policy also means that you won’t be stuck with art you don’t absolutely love. See the work in the flesh, and if you don’t love it, return it to us, free of charge.


What made you create Rise Art?

Art is a pleasure. Choosing and buying art should be a pleasure too.

Often, it isn’t. It can be intimidating, overwhelming and risky. It can also be expensive – how do you know it’s worth it? And how can you be sure you’ll still love the piece when it’s on your wall?

We created Rise Art because we believed there was an easier way for people interested in contemporary art to access works that they loved – simply, online and without fear of being intimidated, ripped off or stuck with something they didn’t like.


What is your target market?

We serve customers trying to start or grow their art collection, or just looking for great artwork to put on their walls instead of IKEA or Habitat. We offer artwork ranging in price from a few hundred pounds up to 50,000 GBP.

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Sounds like you’ve found a mission through your love of art and tech

We are disrupting the art world status quo. The art market has seen little or no innovation in the past hundreds of years. Art galleries, dealers and auction houses operate basically the same way they did hundred of years ago, and it is very complicated for consumers to understand and get into the market. We aim to make great artwork accessible to everyone, and make the experience simple, easy, fun and accessible. We want to put the entire art catalogue of the world in customer’s hands, expertly hand-picked so customers do not have to worry about what and why they are buying a piece of art, they just need to know if they love it or if it will be a great investment.

We are believers of using technology to improve people’s lives and we are using state of the art technology (and developing our own) to help people discover and find the art they love.

We also offer innovative ways of experiencing the art, allowing users to rent the art and try it in their home before they buy. We credit part of the rental towards the purchase as well, or allow customers to return it at any time, free of charge.


As the CTO, what has been your approach to creating the Rise Art platform?

We believe in using the right tools and technology where it makes sense. We also believe in the power of technology to achieve our mission. We have developed advanced recommendation algorithms to help people discover the art they love. We also use advanced image recognition algorithms to understand the artwork and the environment around it. We have borrowed and built upon people that came before us, and we hope other people will borrow and build upon things we have done.

photo 3 (13) photo 2 (22)

Who are you working with?

We need great, enthusiastic coders. We are currently hiring front end (HTML5, CSS3, JS, Jquery) and back end (PHP/Zend, MySQL, Java, Hadoop, etc) developers.


So you are hiring and developing your team. How do you select new joiners?

To be honest, we are still trying to figure that one out. Building the right development team can be the hardest and most important piece in the success of any startup, and the job is never done. Hire great people and things will fall into place; hire sub-par people and things will fail.


What are the top trends you see happening right now in your area of expertise?

Advances in artificial intelligence, image recognition and recommendation engines can all have a great impact in how we discover and consume art online.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Don’t think about it too much, or plan too much ahead, just go ahead and do it. You will find out soon enough that all your plans are soon out the window, and you will need to adapt and evolve as your idea and market does. Once you have an idea, validate it, and get to work! Forget about long, useless business plans, get your hands dirty early and fast.

Iterate quickly and figure out who your customer is and what they want. And most importantly, everything takes 3 times as much time as you expected it would, so plan for it!


Have you got an idea for improving how we fund, make, share and enjoy art and culture?

We need to make great art accessible and easy to buy. There are thousands of really talented artists out there that are being left out of the market by the galleries; we need to give them a way to find their audience. Art should be easy, uncomplicated, and fun. Let’s make it so!


Our mission is to make great art accessible to anyone and help great artists get discovered. As opposed to completely open marketplaces where anyone can sell, we believe that first time art buyers need more than just a lot of choice; they need expert recommendation and guidance. Why is a piece worth what it is? Is it a good potential investment? Is it just great as decoration? When it comes to art, having a lot of choice is not enough, you need to provide the right choice and help people through the process of finding the right piece for them.

We have built technology and products to allow that, and in the process we aim to introduce more and more people to collecting real art.

Inspired? We look forward to seeing you at the Startup Weekend Art London in October!


Rua: The Brazilian answer to funding art and sport through direct donations or tax contributions

Alexandre is co-founder of Rua where he heads Product Management.

Alexandre Picture VI

He has worked in venture capital with Ion Ventures and with Visa International in the US and Europe leading its corporate venturing and innovation efforts.

He has also worked at UBS in Switzerland where he led product development for its financial information service. He has Expertise in venture investments and partnerships in the mobile payments, e-Commerce, micropayment and holds an MBA – University of Zurich

You can find out more about Rua on facebook and twitter.


Crowdfunding is a very hot topic, what’s your take on it?

I head Product Management at Rua, which is a platform for the Brazilian culture, Sport, and social impact sector to crowdfund projects, build online communities and share content.

Rua enables project producers to fund exciting and viable campaigns across Brazil based on crowd selection. Uniquely, we integrate corporate social responsibility goals of major organizations with the platform to align with strategically important  cultural and impact projects.


Why do we need Rua?

The core problem Rua solves is the chronic under funding of the culture, sports, and impact sectors.  To achieve this, we have innovated around the following few areas:

–          Rua has automated underutilized tax incentives to allow individuals to easily invest in culture and sport projects – essentially unlocking latent ‘capital’ for people to contribute to projects (thus overcoming a key barrier for crowd funding adoption in emerging markets)

–          Our CSR application allows companies and its employees to use their collective tax incentives to invest in projects that are most important to them or meet strategic marketing goals

–          Our portal integrates crowd funding with strong content and community tools allowing a genuine place for sharing, collaborating and transacting based on customization – we strongly believe this moves users away from transaction apathy to deeper engagement for users

–          Rua has also leveraged digital tools and techniques to foster greater entrepreneurship among project producers – ultimately making them more attuned to the needs of their audiences

Rua’s platform offers a more efficient and automated funding process to artists and funders whether through direct donations or tax contributions and fundamentally democratizes access to the culture and sports sector at a time of rising citizen aspirations in Brazil.


Who can use it and what for?

Rua’s customers fall into three key categories:

–          Project producers with exciting projects seeking funding – whether they are emerging artists, engaged in sports, or social entrepreneurs seeking impact

–          Organizations seeking to link CSR or sustainability goals with aligned projects across the digital sphere  – and possibly in conjunction with their employees

–          Individuals looking to support projects or communities important to them  – with an option to financially support projects through donations or tax incentives


How does it work?

Rua aggregates multiple funding sources from people and companies to invest in exciting projects across Brazil. Through linking donations and automated tax incentives, Rua unlocks latent capital to fund projects, which reduces a key market barrier to CF adoption in emerging markets like Brazil.  However, our vision is to link this capacity to unlock capital with a strong UX on the portal through what we term the ‘3C’ model – crowdfunding, community, and content as we believe crowdfunding needs to move beyond a transaction site.  The automation, coupled with the 3C model is the basis of our differentiation and will hopefully make Rua the portal of choice for users, organizations and project producers in the Brazilian culture, sports, and social impact sectors.

We have intelligently embedded the fundamentals of crowd funding architecture into a highly differentiated portal for the Brazilian marketplace, and extended this into a rules-based system to enable organizations to customize around their CSR and marketing objectives. Our proprietary data analytics and predictive tools were built in-house following the analysis of over many similar projects over the past few decades.  Crucially, we leverage well adopted social media tools and content management applications to customize for our customers.

We haven’t launched yet, but this is how it will look like:


What drove you and your team to create Rua?

Passion will get you where you want.  The interesting dynamic within Rua is the combined team skills – with an average age of circa 40 we bring a wealth of truly global experience from arts, technology, social impact, strategic consulting, and innovation, and an eclectic mix of interests ranging from philosophy, logic, language acquisition, photography, to sailing and singing! This bizarre mix of life experiences has given birth to a common vision for Rua.

Like many founding teams with strong networks we selected our talent pool based on them sharing a common vision of making Rua a market leader.  We spent an equal amount of time on assessing technical skills as ensuring people believe in our vision and can strengthen it.  Today we are 9 and with plans to expand the team in Q4/2014.


What’s next in the world of crowd funding?

As outlined, we would love to see crowd funding move beyond a transaction platform towards a strong UX around content and community.  Right now we’re seeing more crowd funding sites focusing on multi-currency multi-language sites which we also see as crucial to drive greater liquidity for projects conversions.  Whilst nascent, linking crowd funding with equity-based models will over time become more common subject to national financial regulations – but we believe once accustomed to donations and rewards-based crowd funding, users will also want to co-own the ideas and projects they back with their money.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Be focused and pragmatic. Follow your passion.


Inspired? We look forward to seeing you at the Startup Weekend Art London in October!

Building real-time tracking, targeting and bidding for mobile advertisers: an interview with Tamome

Tamome is a mobile advertising & technology start-up that delivers the right ads to the right people at the right time using real-time techniques.


Jonathan Webb, has built the product strategy, roadmap, engineering team and platform from a high level concept and no heads to an efficient development organisation that designs, builds and supports the systems that the sales, marketing and operations teams rely upon 24×7. He will be available during the Startup Weekend Art as a coach. Follow Tamome’s development on twitter.


What is Tamome, how does it work and what’s your job?

Tamome is a solution for advertisers and advertising agencies. With Tamome they can target campaigns at audiences on mobile devices, measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and continuously modify their targeting and spend to optimise the campaign.

To do this we provide real-time tracking, targeting and bidding on impressions (places to put ads) which requires serious custom built big-data software systems that we develop in-house.

My job is to understand Tamome’s and our customers’ needs, then translate the needs into a UI and architecture that our engineering team can understand, build and manage. The end product must make our users happy in their quest to optimise and deliver the advertisers’ campaigns.

Put really simply – I figure out what we need to do, how we will do it and then ensure my team can, and do, deliver it.


Where does Tamome fit in mobile advertising?

Tamome helps the media industry optimise advertising on mobile whilst the world is going mobile – fast.

To do this we get the right ads to the right people at the right time, and that means that

1: End users receive less irrelevant ads

2: Advertisers increase their ROI

3: Publishers (the people with places to put ads) receive more each time they show one of our ads


Who are your customers?

Anyone wanting to advertise effectively on mobile anywhere in the world. We are currently running campaigns for mobile network operators, car manufacturers, double glazing, glasses, contact lenses, supermarkets and games developers. These are running in the UK, Europe, USA, South America and Asia.


How has media advertising evolve?

The traditional print media industry evolved over the last 20 years to support desktop advertising. Initially buying and selling impressions, then clicks in bulk. As in, ‘I’ll take 1 million clicks on the telegraph this month at $0.20 per click please’. That was disrupted by real-time bidding models about 7 years ago. Each time there’s an opportunity to show an end user an ad, the opportunity is put up for auction and the highest bidder gets to put their ad in front of the user. All within a fraction of a second.

Now we’re in another disruptive period as mobile becomes so prevalent for most people.

It’s harder to figure out what’s happening on mobile, it harder to grab users’ attention and get them to ‘do something’ and there’s a bunch of additional user data that might help you decide which ads to send them.

All this is disruptive to the business models of the exiting agencies. They need to think differently for mobile advertising and stay up to date with bidding technologies.

Tamome is coming at these problems from a purely mobile perspective. We’ve got no desktop legacy to worry about and we’re running real campaigns so that we can learn and develop our platform fast and in a way that is perfectly suited to mobile. We’re responsive, agile and mobile focused.

See the UI and features below. Click on picture to enlarge.

Capture3 Capture2

This all seems to need a lot of clever analysis and user-friendly front-end UI, how did you develop your solution?

We leveraged several 3rd party systems to bootstrap fast and then built our UI, custom mobile tracking and analysis tools on top of that. We’re prototyping, testing and building a real-time bidding system that involves programmatic buying and that uses regression analysis and Bayesian statistics to figure out what inventory to bid on, when and for how much. All in a fraction of a second. Think of it as a stock market, but with each share worth a significantly different amount to each bidder.

Other people are building similar systems (there wouldn’t be a market if they weren’t) but we aim to do it faster and better, so it’s down to maths, algorithms, fantastic software engineers and a deep understanding of what campaign managers really do.


OK, sounds like you need an army of math geniuses and software engineers, how did Tamome come to be?

If you want to get to market fast and not spend a fortune developing systems you have to borrow, rent and leverage. We only develop our own tech if, allowing for the opportunity cost, it is cost effective to do so. It’s also not just about our tech but infrastructure as well. Don’t spend time and effort building, configuring and running bug tracking and agile tools when they are available as low-cost online services.


So what are the guys in your team good at?

Business strategy, product strategy, team building, team leading, product management, system architecture, software architecture, UI design, graphic design, agile, lean, UI development (PhP), back-end development (C++), Linux administration, sales and campaign management (as input).

We stay sane thanks to our partners (home and work), and having a huge dose of flexibility, willingness, pragmatism and a sense of humour.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

It’s a long slog, keep at it.

It’s very rewarding (but not financially).

A good developer is 10 times more efficient than a poor one, will take up less of your time and will be far better company in a small office. Make sure you hire the good ones and don’t get overruled for budgetary reasons.


Have you got an idea for improving how we fund, make, share and enjoy art and culture?

Tax breaks are available as are some development grants through the technology strategy board (TSB) if you are developing new technology.

Find a business model that works for you where you provide a paid for service, and have that fund your technology development. That way you have an income stream and get to learn from the staff who are running the service about what happens in the real world.

Technology has a heartbeat called ‘Moore’s Law’ which drives the amount of computing power available for a fixed cost to doubles every 18 months or so. There is a similar heartbeat to screen sizes, screen resolution, network bandwidth, storage capacity etc.  Find a niche that is currently hard to implement now because of the computing power required. By the time you’ve figured out how to do it and got most of the way there, the computing technology cost will have reduced dramatically and you will be well positioned to exploit it.


How could the work you’ve done in your company be relevant to art promotion and enjoyment?

Mobile technology is getting more and more prevalent. Get your art, installations, guides and advertising onto mobile in a form that is easily accessible, works on all the major platforms (apple iOS, google android, windows mobile) and tailored specifically to mobile.

For example; run mobile advertising campaigns that let you target your audience based on current location (near a gallery or show), network connection (on wifi – probably at home, in a café or work), time of day (5pm – probably at work heading out of the door). Think carefully about how you might target the right audience, take them to a brief mobile optimised site then make them a compelling offer (‘2 for 1 at the Southwark Gallery 5pm-9pm with this code’).

Inspired? We look forward to seeing you at the Startup Weekend Art London in October!

Articheck: an innovative solution for conservators

We are delighted to announce that Annika Erikson, CEO of Articheck will be at Startup Weekend Art London. Find out more about her business idea and work so far. Follow Articheck on twitter, facebook, LinkedIn Art & Technology Group and Instagram.


Tell us about you and Articheck

I am the founder and CEO of Articheck, a distruptive startup targeting the art world.

Articheck takes the manual, labour intensive process of creating condition reports, detailing the condition of artwork at a given place and time for insurance and collection management purposes, and greatly streamlines it. Artwork moves around a lot, between exhibitions, art fairs and sales. Articheck provides a digital ‘passport for art’ that is stored centrally and can be accessed and stamped by each party while the work is in transit or being exhibited, rather than everyone making a new paper report all the time.


Who is it for?

Museums, galleries, conservators, Art Studios, Shippers, framers, Auction Houses, anyone dealing with these reports.


It sounds like condition reporting needed to move to the 21rst century!

Yes, our tech stack is not ground breaking, but the combination and specification to the industries needs are.

Our biggest competitor is a piece of paper so Articheck is very disruptive!

Here are some screen shots of our app showing some of the features available.

screenshot1 screenshot2 screenshot3

How did you come up with this idea?

I used to make thousands of these reports for Tate, and then later in the commercial world. I also used to be a collections cataloguer and work with the systems that Articheck will need to integrate with, so I had an ideal background for this (minus the MBA and tech knowledge of course!)


So you realised there was another, more productive and valuable way to do your job. How did you manage to turn your idea into a business?

First I could only afford interns and freelancers. It was difficult to trust random freelancers so I used people I knew.  I got people to fill gaps of knowledge and skill set as soon as possible, and then more people with art world expertise.  I had to choose between getting ‘sales’ people and getting ‘art world people’ who have done some sales but not SAAS. I choose the artworld people as I think that knowledge is more difficult to cultivate on the job.


It is always difficult to make people change the way they do things, but you made their life easier. What slowed down the take up of your app?

Not having iPads was an issue when we started a couple years ago, but less and less so and now not really mentioned.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Go for it but know what you are getting into! Long hours and constant push to the next goal, but also amazing growth and learning. Always listen to good advice from people with experience, but judge for yourself how far to take it.


What other issues could become a business idea?

A modular framework to help collections digitise their collections and share them with the public, including interesting ways of ‘telling the story’ of objects and sub-collections. They could use Articheck to take images and add some data, then export that to a ready-made website where they just make a few choices on how it is presented and the rest is quite automated. A bit like a combination of web-based software that allows easy importing wizards that identify your CSV columns and match to their template (like Mail Chimp), and website builders, but tailored for collections.


Apart from making a process much easier what good Articheck does to the arts world?

One of our plans is to use data analysis to help collections maintain their artwork, so our contribution is preserving collections for the future!

Inspired? We look forward to seeing you at the Startup Weekend Art London in October!

Dubbed "the pinterest for artists"; hear about ArtStack first hand from its co-founder

Ezra Konvitz is the co-founder of ArtStack and will be a coach during the Startup Weekend Art London.


Tell us more about the “pinterest for artists” you’ve imagined and now run

ArtStack is the best way to discover and share art. We are the largest UGC database of art in the world, with over 500,000 works on the site.

ArtStack enables anyone to engage with art, see works they don’t already know and learn about art. We serve hundreds of thousands of art lovers, art professionals (gallerists, curators, etc) and artists globally.


What’s at the heart of ArtStack?

ArtStack is the first social platform for art in the world – creating a democratic way for people to engage with art and curate their own space online. Artists, auction houses and galleries use ArtStack to their work directly to the most relevant audience: people who have already expressed an interest in what they’re doing.

We are a social platform and follow best practices from across other social sites in other domains – these can come from companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Spotify but always in an art-specific manner.

ip5-1 ip5-2

ArtStack is all about art promotion and enjoyment – it’s built around enabling people to promote art they love (or their own work). We make it possible for people to enjoy art online, in an art-specific environment, with all the information they could possibly need to get to know the artists’ work. This means people can learn about and discover work online, and also that they’re much more likely to then go an enjoy art in person. Studies show that people who see art online are then much more likely to engage with it in person; we want to encourage this so we’ve created a specific section of the website so you can see what exhibitions are on in hundreds of cities globally, and get a real idea of whether you’d like to see them based on the artists’ work.


What drove you to create ArtStack the way it is?

We understand the art world extremely well, which helps a lot with creating an art-specific product that reflects how people engage with art offline. I did an MA in History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art before working at the Serpentine Gallery and my co-founder, James Lindon, did an MA in Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art before working at Victoria Miro Gallery, Pace and establishing his own gallery. From a user experience standpoint, we focus a lot on bringing the most relevant functionality to create an interesting platform that serves our constituents, has a natural virality and strong retention. This has a lot to do with keeping ArtStack clean, simple and easy to use, with great design.

We work with people who understand art and are passionate about the internet – art online is an exciting area but it’s still in its infancy, so passion is as important as technical proficiency.



You’ve picked up on the power of social network, what other trend you think may have such an impact too?

Social revolutionised the way we use internet and how people learn about new things. We’re bringing that to art – but there are lots of other interesting trends online. People want personalised curation and they want to share their taste more than ever before. Mobile is a key way for people to engage and so we’ve invested a lot in our apps for iPhone, iPad and Android.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Do as much as you can to test your ideas with simple hacked together solutions. Always stay focused on your end goals and dream big but make the compromises necessary to get things going quickly. Keep it simple – people would rather go to a restaurant that does one dish very well than somewhere that does a million things to a poor standard. Prioritise one key element of your product and iterate on that to make it exceptional.

Make sure you’re truly passionate about your project: it will become your life, filling every waking hour so be sure it’s something you want to think about. Start-ups aren’t for everyone, and that’s ok. They’re not something you can take a break from: if you’re not doing it, it’s probably not getting done. It’s a different level of responsibility than with a typical day job: the peaks are higher and the troughs are lower.


Have you got an idea for improving how we fund, make, share and enjoy art and culture?

Art should be accessible to anyone – helping make people feel comfortable around art, to see more art and to enjoy it in real life are key elements of what we do with ArtStack. I want people to be able to easily have an art experience offline or online everyday. The UK government is trying to support museums develop more digital engagement, which is terrific but it’s important to remember that 80% of apps are not used more than once after they’ve been downloaded. State support for individual arts organisations is important but we need to think more about how that works in the digital context.

We’re seeing a new aesthetic develop as a result of the internet and people are using the internet as a medium which is tremendously exciting, but there will always be painting and sculpture. What’s great is that digital engagement can help more people experience and learn about more art today than ever before.

Inspired? We look forward to seeing you at the Startup Weekend Art London in October!

How to lend your artwork to major exhibitions? Vastari has the answer

Bernadine Brocker, Founder and Managing Director at Vastari will introduce Startup Weekend Art London and is also a coach and judge of the event.


Bernadine comes from a background in the commercial art world, part of the core team setting up an Impressionist and Modern gallery in London in 2010. She is also a scholar of art history, a graphic designer and originally trained as an illustrator.


What is Vastari and what do you do?

Vastari is an online platform designed to give collectors access to curators at major museums worldwide for exhibition loans.

I run the day-to-day operations of the business, dealing primarily with clients and museums. As I used to do a bit of web design, I also work closely with the product development team.

At a start-up, one ends up doing a bit of everything. I’ve turned into a little bit of an accountant, a fundraiser, a coder, a travel agent and a lawyer.


How did you come up with the idea for your business?

While I was managing a gallery in Mayfair, I encountered collectors who would love to lend, but didn’t know how to get in touch with museums. Curators I spoke to would like to work with private individuals for their exhibitions, but don’t have the time to research where these works have ended up.

Vastari eliminates the need for a middleman when dealing with this research for exhibitions, by providing a secure online environment for them to interact. Curators can browse through collections to find works related to their upcoming show, and collectors can upload their works knowing that they will only be contacted for exhibitions.

In this way, Vastari’s mission is also to help promote a strong relationship between the public and the private art sector, necessary for both to survive and flourish.


Who is it for?

Vastari serves two different customers:

First of all, it helps private collectors who want to share their pieces with the public and increase the exhibition history of the work and validate its provenance.

Secondly, it helps curators who are planning exhibitions and need new and exciting pieces to include in their shows.


Why is Vastari such a good idea?

Traditionally, the process of borrowing and lending private works for exhibitions has been extremely slow and tedious. Collectors lend pieces to museums in order to raise the profile of the work of art. However, the introducer is usually someone with a commercial interest in the value add of this process. Often, the whole process becomes an annoying grapevine of forwarding letters with no guarantee of success.

Through Vastari, we are bringing this to the twenty first century by providing an online platform where collectors and curators can interact directly without the need of an introducer. Curators have embraced our platform because they know the collectors have a predisposition to lend. Likewise, collectors like the fact that their privacy is protected and that they won’t be approached for sales but solely for exhibition loans.


Have you borrowed (and improved) tech that is more commonly used in other industry sectors?

When I was putting together the website, I was borrowing a lot of ideas from real estate and dating websites, funnily enough. It was helpful to see how people work with high value items like property, and unique personalities like people, when analysing how to build a search engine for art.

Also, we have observed privacy settings from financial websites, to ensure that our clients feel their works are secure on Vastari.


What type of skills do you need to develop your solutions?

The main skill you need to develop a website are persistence and patience.

It helps if everyone on the team knows how to read code, and you need someone on your team with technical prowess to ensure everything is of a right standard.

In Vastari’s case, speaking many languages is crucial to enable global reach.


How did you choose and build your team?

For product development, our team is built of an amazing ASP.NET coder with over 10 years’ experience, and a variety of freelancers who work with us on various projects depending on the needs.

Francesca joined from the British Museum in late 2012, having experienced the issues with researching privately owned works first hand. Angela joined 3 months later to help with social media, press and client development in North and South America.

We started having lots of interest from Asian clients, which is when Marta joined the team. She is originally Polish but is an expert in Asian art and speaks Japanese and a bit of Mandarin.

Our team grew according to the needs of our clients, and also according to the chemistry we had when working together. You have to go through many highs and lows together so it is important to communicate and get along.

The team behind Vastari:

Vastari Team Photo


What do you think it key to drive innovation in the artworld?

We’ve come to an era in which it is imperative for those in the business to embrace technology rather than to fear or be sceptical of it. In a way, we’ve been quite lucky because more and more offline and obsolete practices are moving towards the digital, and using technology to facilitate their practices. From digital cataloguing, to online auctions and even online galleries, people understand that it is time to move the offline art market online.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Make sure you listen. To everyone.

When you have a good idea, you tend to tell everyone about it, and want to convince everyone of how important it is to the world. But the best thing you can do is hear what others have to say. Find out what is important to them, rather than to you. Find out what others did with problems in similar situations to you.

Then, take all of that information and turn it into your own. You will still sometimes reinvent the wheel and/or trip over the same rock twice, but you will be going at double the speed of any other startup.


Have you got an idea for improving how we fund, make, share and enjoy art and culture?

If I did, I would be doing it!

Just kidding – there is a lot to be done in the furthering of culture internationally. Especially with the advent of crowdfunding, image searching, image recognition software, open data and the improvement of projection hardware, the sky is the limit.

Vastari Pitch 1


Inspired? We look forward to seeing you at the Startup Weekend Art London in October!