LONDON – The art world equivalent of a dating app: that’s the idea behind a subscription-based service that will launch here on July 31 that aims to connect artists with artists collectibles – without commission fees.
Stacie McCormick, a born American artist and gallery director, has offered what she hopes will be an alternative to an art market where the odds pile up with newcomers.
Today, most transactions between artists and buyers are handled by a small number of large galleries that represent established names and charge substantial commissions.
Ms. McCormick runs Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop, an exhibition and artist residence space in a former hardware wholesale warehouse in West London. The glass-fronted space also houses 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,” Ms. McCormick said in an interview at the space. “But between that environment and the ground, there’s very little entry.”
She notes that there are underrepresented artists worth exploring and many consumers will be eager to discover them, but there are few places where these two artists can intersect.
She describes her app, Fair Art Fair, as “a Tinder for artists and collectors. It was a way to facilitate that encounter,” she said. After all, “in almost every industry, the middle man has been eliminated.”
To join, artists pay £15 (about $21) for a monthly subscription that includes an account where they can store and display images of the works and can also start projects. business transactions, such as generating invoices or certificates of authenticity.
Collectors also have a dedicated virtual space to store images of their collection and complete transactions. Curators can organize an exhibition through the app, virtual or in person, and create newsletters and price lists.
Despite the app’s promise, some in the art world say the app will take a long time to disrupt the market.
“There is both a growing need and a growing desire among many to provide alternatives to the art business,” said Allan Schwartzman, an art consultant based in New York. ” Allan Schwartzman, an art consultant in New York.
Is the application “something that becomes a parallel reality or becomes a meaningful alternative?” he asks. “I think it could go either way,” depending on who uses it, he said.
Mr. Schwartzman likened it to smaller art fairs that take place at the same time and place as large ones. These are not necessarily “places where you want to buy anything,” he notes. Although they may achieve “measured success, those two worlds do not penetrate each other.”
The app has evolved from Ms McCormick’s gallery and workshop space, which she created in 2015 to attempt to recreate the nurturing and community atmosphere she enjoyed while pursuing her master’s degree. at an art school in London.
At Unit 1, artists-in-residence donate a work for sale, which will be included in the gallery’s collection and included in exhibitions curated by Ms. McCormick. The gallery then produced a limited edition print series based on the revenue-generating work.
Ms McCormick said the space had lost money in its first five years and the pandemic would have closed completely, without emergency funding of £35,000 (about $48,000) from the Arts Council UK, the agency that distributes distribution of government grants to cultural institutions.
This was followed by a small initial survival that was an additional £150,000, which also allowed McCormick to develop and launch the app. She says she needs between 1,000 and 1,500 monthly subscribers to cover her costs.
Radhika Khimji, a London-based Omani artist whose work is shown in galleries in Vienna and Kolkata, India, says she has been trying to connect with collectors through flower-based apps. different roses a few years ago but without success. “Online is a pretty saturated space,” she said.
However, with the pandemic, “people are shopping more online” and her own Instagram feed is getting more attention than before, she said. She notes that the application’s ability to automatically generate paperwork can be “very beneficial”.
But to be successful, the app needs to deliver on its promises and gain endorsements from prominent figures and publications in the art world, she added. “It’s all about credibility.”
Mr. Schwartzman said the new collectors he meets are often “much richer” and “much busier” than previous generations of collectors and are “comfortably spending at the very high prices that were previously available.” here it takes collectors decades, if never.”
Although the Fair Art Fair promotes the introduction of a fair measure, “at the end of the day, art isn’t fair,” he said. “Genius doesn’t multiply the amount he wants to buy it.”
The application has a good chance of succeeding if it is “very well managed and centralized”, if the information is “well organized” and if there is a process to attract high-quality work, he said.