When the Internet of Things makes artworks smart

Mark DarbyshireMeet Mark Darbyshire, Managing Director at tagsmArt.



What is tagsmArt?

tagsmArt brings groundbreaking NFC (near field communication) technology to the creative sector. We work with artists, galleries, art fairs/projects, dealers and collectors to help promote, track and authenticate artworks of all kinds. tagsmArt represents the future of authentication and promotion of art employing NFC smart phone technology.

Our industry standard digital labelling system enables the creation of a persistent, live web profile and community for each work. End-users are able to interact with artworks using their smartphones or tablets. This can be physical by tapping an NFC enabled device on the smart label located on the work or associated signage.

Our wireless beacons for galleries and other spaces can also provide information to end-users remotely via our dedicated iPhone and Android App. Visitor movement can be tracked using our beacons.

In addition to distributing content, galleries and artists can offer related works, prints and merchandise for sale via the platform.

Our technology can also be used for inventory control, tracking and management of provenance information.

Here is how it works:

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What can tagsmArt help with?

  • tagsmArt directly addresses the evolving nature of the art business by encouraging the use of new technology and delivering smart solutions to the promotion, tracking and provenance of artworks.
  • tagsmArt is a powerful sales tool for artists and galleries. Sales of works of arts can be increased by providing customers with engaging content at the point of display and via works subsequent to sale.
  • tagsmArt offers improved consumer intelligence and service opportunities to customers by providing beacons for deployment in galleries, at events and other sites.
  • tagsmArt helps reduce the cost of marketing to consumers by providing a turnkey solution for publishing content to smartphones. This is also a paper-free and more eco-friendly approach to marketing and promotion.
  • tagsmArt helps to increase the value of authenticated items by providing a recognised, secure record of origination, ownership and provenance. This allows peace of mind for buyers that they are purchasing a genuine artwork, complete with an encrypted tamper-proof tag that can be used to verify the authenticity of the artwork at any future point.


Who is it for?

We work with artists, galleries, art fairs and projects, museums, dealers, collectors, corporate and public art advisors, art colleges and students, photographers, printers of photography and fine art… the art world at large!


How disruptive is your business? What do you do different from traditional/other solutions?

tagsmArt is at the cutting edge of the technological revolution underway in the art world. Our services are designed to meet the demands of existing and emerging art markets.

Our services are paper free and as such ecologically sound. Our platform gives end-users the opportunity to store and retrieve specific information about an artwork on their mobile device for later review or to share with work colleagues, family or friends. It allows a bespoke end-user journey through artworks and acts as a neat mobile storage system, which eradicates the need for carrying around wads of physical promotional materials.


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

We have adopted Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, adding our own security layer and developing proprietary physical ‘smart label’ formats. 


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

tagsmArt is a synergy of technical and art world knowledge. We have a dedicated team of developers whose technical skills include mobile web and application development, security architecture and server-side database and API development. Equally integral to tagsmArt are our team members with a sound understanding and knowledge of the art world and expert account managers with the necessary sales and marketing skills to take the product successfully to market.


How did you choose and create your team?

We have drawn together experts from the tech and art worlds, as mentioned in answer to question 6. Myself and fellow Director Steve Cooke head-up the tagsmArt team.

I have 20 years’ experience working with galleries, artist and collectors at the highest level of art fabrication and fine art picture framing. I have an international spread of clients including Gagosian and White Cube Galleries and work closely with artists such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. This, coupled with the software development skills of Steve Cooke, led to the creation of a strong tagsmArt team.



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

The art market is expanding online at a phenomenal rate. Many more art sales are being made via the internet without buyers seeing the physical work.

Although the art world has been a little technology averse to date this will not be the case in the future with galleries, artists and collectors engaging with the art market via emerging technologies, such as ours. This expansion via the internet will see a de-mystification of the art world and lead to a new accessibility where art becomes available to a larger, more diverse public.  

The ‘Internet of Things’ is a popular topic and closely relates to our work on ‘smart artworks’.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Enthusiasm and energy before money will win the day but also by using customer-centric methods to develop and test your solution.


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

Education is key to engaging a larger audience with the art world. Technologies such as tagsmArt’s will play an important part in opening up the art world to a wider audience, offering comprehensive and insightful guides for the art enthusiast and the inquisitive onlooker.


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

What tagsmArt offers could not be more relevant to art promotion and enjoyment! In summary, tagsmArt gives the user (gallery, collector etc.) a platform through which to share artwork specific information directly with end-users via their mobile device. The viewer is given the opportunity to interact with artworks via ‘the tap’ (using an NFC enabled device) or by way of our App, as they explore exhibits. It allows users to be taken on a personalised art journey and choose and save information about specific artworks they wish to revisit remotely and explore further at a later date.


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