By Gabriella Yasmin Khan, LLM (Master of Laws)
For our readers who will be unfamiliar with Arteviste, could you give a short description as to what the platform is, and what it aims to achieve?
Arteviste is a digital arts platform with a focus on the younger end of the contemporary art market. We put together editorial, video, and event-based content for companies like Soho House, Artnet, Frieze as well as others like S W Mitchell Capital or Connolly, hoping to inspire their audiences by becoming more involved with the art market. The idea is that we explore the human side of the art market by focusing more on the artist as an individual more so than the work itself – we like to go into the studios of artists to hear about what they are working on. The platform also looks into the structure of the industry by bringing the work of these artists and their stories together and relaying them to an audience of people who would not otherwise explore such things. Almost every industry and individual has a reason to take more of an interest in the art world whether it be clients, private collections, social media influence; a lot more people are becoming more engrossed in art so we are just excited to make the art world more visually accessible and be the gateway for people exploring such an industry.
At SOAS there is a sizeable entrepreneurial community, and obviously, you launched your business whilst you were still a student. Did your degree advertently inspire you?
Well, it actually did the opposite, because I was so disillusioned by my degree (despite having completed it), that I had a hunger to find something I was passionate about alongside it. I had always been interested in the arts and was spending my summers in Paris doing internships at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, so I already had the drive to work in the contemporary art market. It did not necessarily begin as a business because I initially had a blog which developed into an online magazine. But I was meeting more and more people who worked in the industry and I asked them to contribute with insider perspectives of the art world – it really started to work as people were interested to hear the voices of those working within it rather than a perspective of journalists who merely observe the industry from the exterior. It progressed from there and as I moved further into my degree, I started expanding the events side of the business for members’ clubs and galleries who wanted a more relaxed tone to be reflected in their events, but still with a cultural core to it.
Did you face any challenges whilst pursuing your business idea whilst studying?
It was definitely hard work – you have to of course work double time. The relationships within the industry can sometimes be difficult to navigate at the beginning because the art world is built on friendships and there are lots of favours being done. It was initially very difficult to know how to enter that kind of environment, but you just need to persevere. But despite this, I found that the great advantage as to starting a business when you’re young is that there is no fear and regret because you are learning as you go. It is more of a trial and error process so I really enjoyed that journey. I’ve certainly had my disasters along the way, but actually, they have always resolved themselves and I have learnt a lot from them by having faith in what I’m doing.
As a young observer of the art world, do you find it to be quite an introverted industry?
I think that if you get going early enough by interning and going to openings to meet people, then less so. I think it is really important to build an online presence early so that people can refer to your website or articles that you have written. It quickly helps others to place you and they will have a lot more respect for you as a result. The art industry can sometimes appear to be quite intimidating but that is the aim of Arteviste – to make it less so. At the end of the day, a lot of art events are open to everyone. For example, museums and galleries are very accessible as well as private viewings. There is everything to play for but it is just working out how it can be applicable to you.
You’ve mentioned your dependence on social media. By observing younger contemporary artists and their interaction with social media, have you identified the ways in which social media might be changing the art industry? Is it beneficial or disadvantageous?
I think it is definitely beneficial but at the same time we all need to be a little disciplined with ourselves so that it does not become all-consuming. We need to understand how to use it and not be totally distracted by it. It definitely is a beneficial tool, especially for artists because I discover so many new talents on social media platforms. We support artists who market themselves and use social media as a way of speaking for themselves to build their career. There is a lot to admire for that but it takes a long time to understand how best to navigate it. There are often things that I post on the @arteviste_ Instagram that are perhaps too personal and might not appeal to my audience, but then maybe it is important to show such things. With Arteviste’s focus, we are always excited about investigating into the artist as an individual, so someone’s Instagram for example, can be extremely transparent in getting an insight into a creative individual and how such creativity is expressed through their work. Consequently the industry is changing, because artists are being pushed to open up about their work on said platforms and explain their ideas to their audience. You can’t hide behind a press release anymore!
At SOAS, especially within the Faculty of Arts, we focus on a non-Western perspective. Do you know of any young Asian/ Middle Eastern/ African contemporary artists who are rising stars?
Arteviste is extremely interested in the emerging markets and the talent that comes from outside of the West. There is a great gallery which focuses on African art, Jack Bell Gallery, and we occasionally review the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair as well as the artists that are exhibited. We’ve recently worked with two artists who grew up in London, but Faye Wei Wei’s family are originally Chinese and Sang Woo Kim’s are originally South Korean. It is definitely something that we are moving into progressively, but realistically it is a path we can only pursue once we have more resources. I should be at Hong Kong Art Basel in a few months and hope to find more artists there.
Given that Arteviste focuses on the younger end of the art market, why do you think art is so important to the younger generation?
Art can be incredibly empowering, not even just as an artist but as someone who appreciates the creativity of it. It is a wonderful comfort to a lot of people, especially in a time of precariousness where individuals look towards other parts of culture either for distraction or enlightenment. It opens your eyes to new perspectives on things, which are indispensable in a globalised world. All the different art forms should be respected as they each offer something unique and significant in terms of commenting on social or political issues. That’s why at Arteviste, we sometimes branch out into reviewing films for example like Call me by Your Name because they can offer a supplementary insight into a specific theme or issue. Art has to be thought of as expansively as possible, especially when it comes to one’s own creativity.
Do you have a vision of how Arteviste will develop in the future?
I would love to collaborate more with other creative industries like fashion and explore how art correlates with them. I most enjoy the people side of the platform such as delivering guest lectures at Christie’s, Sotheby’s or The Courtauld, interviewing the artists, and also developing the production of film content that we make to profile the artists. We are always going to adhere to the focus on the younger artist so that we can help them to grow and reach a wider audience, because that is an area that still feels relatively untapped. For me it is about growing at a pace that is not too rapid, which is why we are constantly looking for the right people to bring on board to join our team, as well as developing our social media presence.
Do you have any advice that you would give to someone who wants to pursue a career in the art industry?
The one thing I would advise is to identify the client base that you want to work with because it is much more varied than people might think. This will allow you to focus your research on what is developing in specific sectors and will help you to understand how you can contribute to that area and what needs to be done to grow it. Art very much shares its clients with other creative industries so it is important to know what is generally happening in other areas like fashion, film, finance and so on. Collaborating with other creatives and hosting dinners within the home is great to boost your presence in a competitive industry. For example, I have a contract with Dolce & Gabbana who have dressed me, which allowed them to be involved in the art industry and me be exposed in another light. It is great to find partners – even food. We have food sponsors for our monthly supper clubs which create a community for our young artists to make them feel part of something. Generally, you just need to live and breathe the industry and work hard to create friendships that will help you to navigate the art world.
You can follow Arteviste by subscribing to their mailing list at www.arteviste.com or following their Instagram page: @arteviste_