FAD: How to cover 'Cool Art Stuff' online

FAD’s founder and editor in chief Mark Westall has a bit of a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Starting in style magazine publishing in the 1990s he quickly became known for nabbing then-unknowns such as The Spice Girls and Oasis for coverstars, but the nascent digital world soon captured his attention. Repurposing his magazine’s creative teams to the new world of website development, he was at the forefront of the advance of brands into digital, producing award winning digital experiences for brands including Campaign, Levi’s and Jolly Ranchers. When the advertising industry noticed this new field, he sold his business to Leo Burnett, going on to lead the agency’s digital division for 5 years, working for companies like P&G, Kellog’s, McDonald’s and Disney. Looking for something more, he moved first into community education and culture initiatives, producing the award winning SoSafe.org for the NHS, and the pan-European youth initiative Respect4me.org before in 2008 following his passion for art and founding what has grown to become FADwebsite.

Focused on emerging and contemporary art, FADwebsite aims to shine a light on new talents and develop our understanding of those we already know a little about.

FADwebsite is internationally recognized as a key figure within the emerging and contemporary art world, and has been selected as official partner by organizations as diverse as Moving Image, Volta and Christie’s.

In addition to leading FADwebsite, Mark is a director of fad.agency, the marketing services agency for the art world and those who wish to engage with it, a columnist for City and Canary Wharf Magazines and expert advisor to bi-annual art fair Strarta.

In this interview, Mark talks about his experience of founding and growing an arts publication.


What is FAD?

FAD Website is a curation of the world’s most interesting art and culture. We do news, reviews, and in-depth pieces about the things we’ve found. We also highlight upcoming events, act as a platform for new artists and a place for more established artists to share their thoughts in longer interviews.

FAD Website is the sister of FAD Agency, a strategy and creative agency that creates and implements strategic branding, advertising and communications campaigns for brands and organisations that believe, like we do, that being really interesting makes everyone more appealing.

How and why did you set up the project?

I’d published style magazines back in the nineties before a digital agency I set up got brought by an advertising agency (Leo Burnett). Working for massive brands like McDonald’s and P&G was fun, but I missed the creativity and freedom of publishing, and I wanted to bring together the things I was in love with by then: contemporary art, the digital world and publishing. The agency has grown organically out of the website as brands have approached us to do more in-depth projects and we’ve been able to offer more services.

How disruptive is your business? What do you do differently from traditional media outlets?

In some ways my business is pretty traditional journalism – I find things out and write about them (or one of our writers does). In other ways I think FAD is emblematic of the changes that have taken place across the publishing world. We started out as a print title, three issues later we were a website. We’ve changed a bit over the years and, in fact, will be changing again shortly as the site’s being redesigned at the moment. Watch this space…

You’ve covered a lot of interesting art and culture over the years. Any particular highlights that stand out?

No – FAD is about NOW

Originally set up in London, you now have a global presence. What are the main differences in the art market across the globe?

As a publication we see the art market from a different perspective than other parts of the industry might. We tend to focus on things we think are interesting – and because of that, people come and tell you about things they think are interesting too.
An example of this playing out is that while we know that London’s the busiest art market in the world in terms of volume and value, what we see at FAD is the huge quantity, and extraordinary quality of the UK’s emerging art scene. Similarly, whilst the auction rooms in New York get a lot of press, what we tend to hear about most are things like amazing pop artists in LA, and the incredibly energetic street art scene in Mexico.

What trends do you see happening in the area of art and technology?

Art, like technology is becoming really integrated into people’s lives, and part of that means that like technology, we’re hearing a lot about collaborations. So where you get Apple collaborating with all these fashion people for the watch, what we’re seeing in art is a lot of visual artists working with poets, performance artists and video artists.

What advice would you give to arts entrepreneurs?

Spend a bit of time getting to understand the world you’re getting in to. The art world is full of people who make because they can’t imagine doing anything else, and sometimes that means they are really naive about money. There have been examples of companies coming into the market who have kind of trodden on those people, and I think successful arts entrepreneurs are people who look after the dreamers, as well as the backers.

Inspired? Find out more about Startup Weekend Art London!

Hack and Craft : A Product Developer's Perspective on the Future of Technology in the Arts

Harry McCarney, Managing Director at Hack & Craft, will be a coach at Startup Weekend Art London. Hack & Craft has built a wide range of innovative products for startups and aspirational corporates. As an engineer, Harry has built algorithms for investment banks, anti-fraud systems for dating companies and payment platforms for crowd-funding companies. He has also founded and invested in several startups including the first EU community crowd-funding site friendfund.com and Bradswine.com. Harry talks about his work at Hack & Craft and the future of art and technology.


What is Hack & Craft? 

Hack & Craft helps entrepreneurs and companies innovate. We work at the cross roads of design, technology and product management to take ideas from ideation through to launch. This end-to-end approach allows us to work with a very broad range of technology in variety of sectors. What unites our work is the belief that small, feedback-driven iterations are the key to building disruptive products which solve real problems.

What are some of the most technologically innovative projects you’ve worked on recently?

This year we have built a music graph api for the San Francisco based startup Senzari.
The algorithms that run on the music graph are fast becoming the intelligence that powers some of the best known music recommendation services. We look at details like chord progressions, key, tempos, instrumentation and around 2k other data points to work out what music you like and send you more of it.

We are also working with Axel Springer to build some grass roots driven innovation for the publishing industry. This will be live by the end of of the year but I cannot say anything about it yet. Another project this year is an org visualization platform project for General Electric. This technology will allow organizations of global size to implement cross-functional teams whilst still tracking resources and project dependencies across multinational structures.

In your career to date, you have built a number of products for different industries, including the arts. How technologically developed is the arts industry in comparison to others? How can it catch up?

The arts seems to be a very traditional industry in which a few players are very well established. This means tech innovation whilst slow has the potential to be hugely disruptive. I think is fairly inevitable that this will happen.

How do you think technology will affect the art industry in the future?

I think we will see many niche SaaS B2B companies aimed at galleries and collectors. The less obvious developments will be on the consumer side. It is clear that technology and the Internet can democratize access to art just as they have to information and culture more generally,  but I am not sure what form this will take. In recent years, there have also been many examples of technology being used in the production and exhibition of art. Artists are selling youtube accounts, domains and single page javascript animations. HnC News, which is Hack and Craft’s round up of innovation and grass roots entrepreneurship, ran an interesting article on this here.  Augmented reality may also reduce the traditional role of the ‘gallery’ as place to consume art.

Any advice for entrepreneurs who want to disrupt the arts sector?

Personally I would focus on uses of technology that discover new art lovers and change the way art is consumed. Building a business which is dependent on partnerships with the traditional art industry is going to be very slow and difficult. If you can introduce new models, then the established names will come to you. Specifically, I think there will be room for an web-based market place for art made entirely of code.

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

How to Use Technology to Improve the Museum Experience : An Interview with Kati Price from the V&A

Kati Price, Head of Digital Media at the V&A will be judging the final presentations at Startup Weekend Art London on the 5th October. At the V&A, Kati oversees all digital activity, from the museum’s websites, apps and social media to developing new digital products, services and experiences. Kati’s 15 years’ experience in the design industry experience spans both commercial and the public sector. She’s worked for brands such as SCP and Vitsoe and charities such as the Sorrell Foundation and the Design Council. She’s passionate about digital technologies, design and beekeeping. In this interview, Kati talks about innovation and technology in museums.


What are the main challenges museums experience?

Money – One of the main challenges for any museum is funding. Our dwindling grant in aid means we need to find new sources of income, and foster a more entrepreneurial, more commercial mindset within our sector, which, in itself, raises some interesting challenges, tensions, and – of course – opportunities.

Organisational culture – Most people probably don’t think of museums as entrepreneurial
hotbeds, or as tech innovators and I’m sure all of us digital folk in the museum sector
would acknowledge the pockets of Luddism that still exist within our all too often siloed
organisations. We therefore need to be persuasive and passionate about the opportunities and possibilities that new digital technologies can present. It helps that there are some really interesting digital innovations happening in the sector that we can point to, like Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gallery One or the Cooper Hewitt’s Pen.

Loss of control – Museums, like any 21st century organisations, need to get their heads
around no longer being in control of their brands. Like Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”. Some, like frog’s CMO Tim Leberecht, would argue that loss of control is not a new phenomenon; in fact, we’ve got more control over the loss of control than ever before. Either way, in a hyper connected, transparent world we can’t afford to take a broadcast approach where the urge is to control the message. We need to embrace the multiplicity of voices that we as organisations can offer. We need to be more conversational. We need to collaborate with our online audiences, generating ideas and content together, ensuring a virtual visit is just as inspiring as coming to our buildings. The challenge is to listen, to develop shared values and long-term relationships.

What future (or present) technology innovations could help to solve them?

I think it’s dangerous to assume the best starting point is technology. It’s people: some of
the most enduring, compelling innovations come from looking at what people want, and at their latent needs. Of course there are exceptions to the rule (the folks at Apple and Ikea, for example, don’t waste their time on user-centric design) but museums, as social institutions, really need to think about people first. Too often we end up with solutions looking for problems.

It’s also about getting the basics right. On the museum conference circuit I hear from peers about exciting new apps and gallery interactives, yet often they don’t have responsive websites. It’s easy to get distracted by the latest technologies, while neglecting the fundamentals, like making it easy for visitors to find your opening times while they’re on the move.

What are some of the ways the Victoria and Albert Museum uses technology to innovate the visitor experience, manage exhibitions and attract visitors?

For our blockbuster exhibition, David Bowie is, we collaborated with Sennheiser to deliver audio seamlessly and intuitively, from immersive 3D sound simulations to proximity triggered audio. We’re now looking at how we might use iBeacons to deliver multi-media content in our exhibitions, or provide tours for visually impaired visitors or exploration trails and games for kids, for example. We’re also exploring how wearables, like Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift might introduce new layers of content and even more immersive experiences in our buildings or remotely.

We’ve also put a considerable amount of work into translating the V&A’s core managed data resources into web-portable digital assets via APIs. Freeing up collections, shop and event datasets has allowed us to rapidly develop services like our award winning digital Explorer Map as well as in-gallery digital labels. It’s also meant we’ve created a number of automated widgets on the V&A site and – most excitingly – this enables artists and developers outside the organisation to mash up the data and create their own artworks and visualisations.

But innovating our visitor experience doesn’t necessarily mean embracing the newest
technologies. It’s about doing more, better, with ubiquitous channels like Twitter and
Instagram, for example, by encouraging people to contribute their ideas on what we should be collecting in our Rapid Response collection.

What do you think museums of the future will be like?

There’s so much interesting research in this area in this area and reports like TrendsWatch do a far better job than me of summarising key trends for museums. But we’re all thinking about the Internet of Things (IoT) and how that might open up new possibilities in museums.

The IoT caricature is of your fridge telling you when it’s out of milk but there are very real
applications for a connected world within and beyond the museum. After all, museum
environments already chock full of sensors, the things that will power the IoT. At the most
functional level, imagine how the IoT will change areas like conservation and security. But
the recent folding of digital agency Berg, whose Little Printer really captured the world’s
imagination, shows that the world of connected products is still very much in its infancy and even for those with Berg’s incredible creativity, expertise and imagination, the market isn’t necessarily there yet.

Museums of the future will also be social institutions (if they’re not already), more
collaborative, more focused on engagement than presentation, and developing online (as
well as physical) experiences. To do that well, we’ll need to have got our head around big
data but perhaps we should focus more on small data or just using data better, to create
truly personalised experiences for our visitors.

Any tips for entrepreneurs who want to disrupt the museums world?

Is disruption the end goal? I’m not sure it is. After all, some are questioning whether
disruption is a myth. Earlier this year, historian Jill Lepore wrote in the New Yorker that
innovation and disruption are ideas that originated in business but have now been applied to arenas with very different values and goals than those of business:

People aren’t disk drives. Public schools, colleges and universities, churches, museums,
and many hospitals, all of which have been subjected to disruptive innovation, have
revenues and expenses and infrastructures, but they aren’t industries in the same way that manufacturers of hard-disk drives or truck engines or dry goods are industries.

That said, I think it’s hugely important that museums collaborate with technologists and
creatives if not to disrupt, at least to drive innovation within our sector. Here are four things you might want to consider:

1) Borrow from other sectors – this is an oft-used strategy within innovation: see
what’s working in one sector and translate it to a new environment. And this is
particularly good strategy to use in organisations with a risk averse culture such as

2) Find the problems – don’t start with the technological solutions and retrofit a
problem around them. Instead, take a user-centred design approach. Put people –
visitors – first.

3) Develop a business model – it’s important to really interrogate your idea and ask
yourself, does it have legs? It does if you can develop a proper business model
around the core idea. One of my favourite tools to do this is the Business Model

4) Find the sweet spot – Identify the sweet spot between business goals, user goals,
content and interaction. For more on this take a look at Corey Stern’s recent piece
for UX Mag.


Image © Corey Stern

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

Veerkant: Changing the Online Art Experience

Veerkant are kindly providing access to high resolution pictures and meta data of more than 1000 paintings and artists for the attendees of Startup Weekend Art London.

Veerkant is a modern web application for exploring, experiencing and buying art. The young company was founded in Potsdam by Johannes Hoppe, Lucas Wagner and Tim Borchmann in early 2014. With about 1,000 paintings from more than 150 artists, the platform offers a broad range of contemporary art at a variety of prices. Lucas Wagner talks about the project.

HPT - HPV Businessplan-Wettbewerb

What is Veerkant all about?

We develop and operate a web application that enables art lovers and enthusiasts to explore, experience and buy original artwork online. We utilize state of the art technology to revolutionize the online art experience.

Which problem do you solve?

To answer that question, we need to take a look at the current state of online art. There are many small online shops, artists present themselves on their websites, galleries sometimes have online portfolios. And there are thousands of offline galleries as well. This makes discovering new and exciting artwork incredibly hard. But a large collection is not enough. That is why we work hard to enable art lovers to experience art online at a whole new level. We want to create an experience, not a random online shop where you just search for stuff you want, buy it and then leave right away. Veerkant aims to be your home of art in the Internet.

We focus on high quality content, both for the photography of our artwork and on the metadata and information about it. It is our goal not only to be the best in showcasing art online, but to educate people and tell them the story behind each painting and its artist. Therefore we have been working on new artist profiles that will be released very

Which customers do you serve?

We focus on first­-time art buyers. People that are young, educated and interested in art but who have not had the chance to learn more about art yet. We strive to give these people who are new in the art world, and of course other art lovers as well, an easy access to buy original pieces and explore their own art taste.

How disruptive is your business? What do you do differently from traditional solutions?

We are not an online shop. We are a well­-curated online gallery, a guide to the art world and place where you can easily explore and experience your taste. We do not only deliver the artwork itself, but the story and emotions that come with art naturally. We bring this experience to the Internet, for a younger and growing audience, using our
modern web app approach and latest technology.

How do you make money: what is your company’s business model and how does it work?

Since we want to offer our art experience to a broad audience, everyone can
visit our online gallery for free and artists can exhibit their artworks with no costs too. We only take a fair, and compared to the industry, very competitive commission fee for each sale we make.

Which channels do you use to advertise?

At the moment, we build up different marketing channels for our gallery. First, we want to target the social media platform users who are interested in art. We also want to create an online art and style magazine to attract an audience
that is not thinking about buying original art yet. With different themed art events and exhibitions, we are going to add to our credibility and make a name in the art world. And last but not least, we use our the art collectors and art galleries in our network to contact people who are likely interested in our exciting pieces.

How did you create/gather your team?

The most important thing was commitment to our vision. The art market is one of the toughest markets to tackle and requires a lot of passion and endurance. We tried to cover all competencies that are required to run a successful art business. But as a startup you never have enough resources to cover all areas, that is why everyone in our team is a fast learner. All our founders are experienced in either business or new technology. Combined with our passion for art, these skills allow us to constantly challenge the status quo of the art market.

What are the top trends you see happening right now?

What I see happening right now is a shift from offline to online businesses. Everything ­ from shoes and furniture to original art is starting to or already selling better on the Internet. Also, I see China as the fastest emerging art market in the world. People should look into that to run a successful business. We aim to expand to Asia as soon
as possible, after we have established a good position in Europe.

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

Google Art Project: A Virtual Museum with Millions of Artifacts

Marzia Niccolai, Technical Program Manager at Google Cultural Institute, will be a coach at Startup Weekend Art London.

Marzia has worked at Google for 8 years, most recently as Technical Program Manager looking after cultural digitization efforts for Google’s Cultural Institute. Before working on the Google Art Project and the Cultural Institute, she worked on App Engine, part of Google’s scalable cloud computing solution. Originally from California, she attended Carnegie Mellon University and Columbia University. In this short interview, Marzia talks about her experiences at the Google Art Project and gives some tips for entrepreneurs.


How did you get involved with the Google Art Project?

I got involved with the Art Project before the first launch in 2011. At the time, I was working on Google App Engine, and they were building on our platform and had some questions. I was so excited about what I saw that I volunteered my 20% time. I worked on it first 20%, then 50% through 2012, when I moved to London to work on GAP full time.

What are the main challenges you encountered and how did you overcome them?

Every day presents new challenges, but that’s what keeps me around! When we started there were a lot of obvious challenges – just building a platform where you could find lots of amazing artwork from all over the world, have seamlessly integrated zoom view as well as an interior Google Museum view was a challenge.

But now the bar is higher and we have to think about how to keep pushing innovation forward online and keeping our growing number of cultural partners not only happy but involved in what we’d like to do.

What trends do you see happening in the area of art and technology?

Well, I’m not sure it would be considered a trend, but what I would like to see become more of a reality is a smooth integration between the offline and online art world so they become truly complementary experiences.

What advice would you give to arts entrepreneurs?

Probably the same I would give most people – that great ideas are easy to come by and the real work (and real genius) is in great execution. Focus first on delivering your core offering and then build on top of that.

For the projects I work on, I always have a longer term vision that I’m working toward. However, when it comes to the actual work I doing, I always want to have 90% confidence in what I’m doing this week, 80% confidence in what I’m doing this month and it decreases from there. For me, it keeps the balance between flexibility and longer term thinking.

Have you got an idea for combining art and technology to solve an art world problem?

I haven’t really thought about it – but if I did, it would probably include 3D.

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

Larry’s List: A Collection of Collectors

Magnus Resch is quite a phenomenon. He just turned 30 but can look back on a lifetime. Army soldier, serial entrepreneur, university professor and best-selling author. He started early, very early. His first venture at the age of 20 was an art gallery in Switzerland. Following that, he became Managing Director of Springstar, an internet incubator with $2 Billion revenue. His most recent venture, Larry’s List, is a database of contemporary art collectors.

Magnus Resch_Portrait3

Tell us about Larry’s List.

Larry’s List is a database of contemporary art collectors. It is like an address book packed full of contact details for the most relevant contemporary art collectors. It is a service for art dealers to help them find new customers.

What problem does Larry’s List solve?

Larry’s List helps galleries to identify new customers. Galleries from around the world, including many Art Basel galleries, are using the service. And we have many clients from outside the art world too. Everyone who needs access to an affluent group of contemporary art collectors can use Larry’s List to research their contact details, collection information and business interests.

LL image

How does Larry’s List disrupt the traditional arts industry?

Imagine if Christie’s were to put all their customer data online. The contact details, collection preferences and art engagement information for all the collectors paying millions of dollars for artworks. This is Larry’s List. We are the address book every gallery, auction house and art dealer has been looking for, making meticulously researched collector profiles accessible to everyone for a fair price.

You have just published a best-selling book on the management of art galleries. How can art galleries leverage new technologies for profit?

Gallery owners need to change their mindset. They need to be businessmen first and only later creative people. As any good businessman, a gallery manager will then realise that new technologies can act as additional distribution channels. By selling works online on platforms or through mobile apps, galleries may find new customers. Will artists eventually sell directly to the customers, leaving out the gallery owners? No. Galleries will always be the curators of the art market.

What is your top piece of advice for entrepreneurs in the arts sector?

If your plan is to open another gallery – don’t do it! It’s a terribly hard thing to do. If you want to start a company in the art world focus on two things: (1) money not the beauty of the arts, (2) those customers who are currently left out of the market. They have the highest potential.

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

Curation for all: An interview with art:i:curate

art:i:curate is a crowd-curating platform with a mission to redefine the concept of “curating” by encouraging people to build their own collection, share the art they like and by doing so, co-curate future exhibitions.  Irina and Nur, the two founders of the platform, explain how art:i:curate works.

The concept of crowd-curation is highly fascinating. How did the idea come about? What pressing art world problem do you aim to solve?

There are two problems we are looking to solve.  Firstly, talented artists have a hard time displaying their works and putting them up for auction. It is difficult for them to find good websites where they can showcase their work. Secondly, we feel that there is no real dialogue between the art world and individuals. These days, individuals rely on what they are supposed to see. We think that you should ask people what they want to see and we do exactly that at our platform.

Founders Irina Turcan and Nur Elektra El Shami_Image courtesy of Alberto Gallo

How does art:i:curate democratize curation?

We hold physical exhibitions with the art our network likes on www.articurate.net. In addition to that, we have smaller events on a monthly basis with the aim of helping people to discover art. These include dinners with artists, casual drinks and so on.

How exactly do you make money?

Our business model has two main components: we charge a commission on the sale of each artwork and there is a membership fee to attend our smaller events (note: signing up to the website is free!)

And what about marketing? How do you promote your events as a start-up?

As a start-up, the main marketing channels we use are social media and our newsletter. It’s all about maximizing your resources. Also, it is important to have the key influencers in your network – they can spread your message much more easily.

Irina, I know you come from a finance background – why a start-up in the arts?

I have always been interested in art and have tried to engage with it. Initially, I pursued a career in finance because you can build great experience in working with diverse companies in different industries and develop a strong general skillset that you can apply later in a start-up environment.

Articurate - website

What are some of the main trends you see happening in the art world now?

There are more and more online galleries, inventory management systems and start-ups which facilitate communication between artists and buyers.

And finally, what are your top tips for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Our advice would be as follows: test your product well before launch, gather feedback from different parties and as far as choosing a co-founder goes, it must be someone you trust and can rely on.

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

iMakr: 3D printing in the arts and beyond

We are delighted to announce that our sponsor iMakr will be at Startup Weekend Art London, giving participants the opportunity to prototype their ideas, create artworks and print objects – all using 3D printing technology.

What is iMakr?

London-based iMakr is Europe’s largest all-encompassing 3D printing company – operating the world’s largest independent 3D printing stores located in London and New York.  From the reselling of hand-picked 3D printers and accessories, to in-depth training and support, iMakr strives to facilitate the proliferation of this incredible technology wherever they are able. Whether it is through the participation in hackathons, incubating 3D printing projects through their VC arm, or simply educating people and providing them with the tools necessary to bring their designs to life using 3D printing, iMakr endeavours to showcase the power of this technology and bring it into the hands of the consumer wherever possible.  iMakr powers a free 3D object download platform – MyMiniFactory.com.  Here users are free to download thousands of objects – all of which have been tested by an internal team.  These range from functioning final products, to full-fledged artworks, as well as everything in between.

iMakr Store

How is 3D printing used in the art world?

iMakr strongly believes that 3D printing has had a considerable influence on the art world, and this influence will only continue to grow as the technology becomes increasingly accessible.  They have collaborated with prolific designers and artists in order to bring some particularly grand ideas to life, Jo Ratcliffe’s 3D Printed ZoeTrope Project being one such example. Some have even started to reinterpret traditional artworks using 3D printing – as can be seen here.

MyMiniFactory have launched their own initiative whereby they are attempting to “Scan the World” – creating a massive repository of the world’s most iconic artworks and landmarks – all ready to 3D print.

modelfullside2 (1)

More and more artists are turning to 3D printing to create unique and interesting pieces, creating items that generally cannot be produced using traditional methods of manufacture. Often it is a case of prototyping components which will be cast later on or otherwise incorporated into a final piece – meaning a far quicker overall process for an artist, however we are also seeing full, final 3D printed artworks becoming more and more commonplace. Expect this technology to continue to grow within the arts, enabling designers and creators to produce breathtaking works in progressively more innovative ways.

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

How to sell digital limited editions online: Ashley L. Wong from Sedition

Ashley L. Wong will be a coach at Startup Weekend Art London. Ashley is Head of Programmes at Sedition, the online platform for leading contemporary artists to distribute their work as digital limited editions. At Sedition she oversees the launching of new artists and development of programmes and strategic partnerships that inform new development on the site. She has worked extensively in the arts and creative industries as a digital producer and project manager of exhibitions, events and online programmes.  In this short interview, Ashley explains how Sedition works as a business.


Ashley, could you tell us what Sedition is all about?

Sedition is an online platform that sells digital editions of art by some of the world’s most renowned contemporary artists. It is the evolution of the traditional etching or woodcut print multiples where high resolution videos and images stills are distributed as digital limited editions. Works are held in your Sedition account and can be viewed exclusively on any screen or device through the browser or using one of our free iPhone/iPad, Android or Samsung Smart TV apps. Works are securely stored in the cloud in the Vault of your Sedition account and come with a digital Certificate of Authenticity that is signed by Sedition and the artist. Sedition works directly with the world’s leading contemporary and digital artists including Tracey Emin, Bill Viola, Yoko Ono, Universal Everything, Elmgreen & Dragset and many others. Works are affordable from as low as £5 up to £1000 and it is free for anyone to join and become an art collector of the digital age.

What main problem does Sedition solve?

Sedition provides an innovative way to sell digital videos and images as limited editions. It presents a model for artists working in the digital medium to sell and distribute their work for screens. Works can be experienced on any connected device or screen presenting a new way to collect and enjoy art at home or on the go.

In terms of customer groups, who do you primarily target?

Our customers are art collectors, art lovers, and early adopters of technology. Since prices are much more affordable than for many traditional artworks, this allows more people to participate in art collecting. We hope to make art collecting more accessible to the everyday person. We envision art to be as necessary in everyone’s lives as music and literature.

How do you differ from traditional solutions of art distribution?

Works on Sedition remain in the digital realm and are not physical artworks. There are many online aggregators that sell physical paintings online or images that can be printed, but works on Sedition remain digital and are to be experienced exclusively on TVs, tablets, computers and smart phones. Works are also held in the cloud and not on your local device. This way you can access your art work anywhere you go. You can however also download the artworks into our iPhone/iPad or Android apps in a secured environment, so works can be viewed even when you are offline. Sedition presents a unique model to sell the works as digital limited editions where edition sizes range from unique artworks to editions of 100, 500 and up to 1,000. In a world where digital files can be infinitely reproducible, Sedition presents a way to limit the numbers and create value through scarcity. Once all editions are sold out, works can also be resold on the Sedition Trade platform which allows people to sell their works at any price.


How would you describe your business model?

Sedition sells art as digital limited editions. We earn a percentage of the sales which is shared with the artist. We also have a number of corporate deals with hotels and license the works to view in hotels rooms and public spaces as another revenue stream.

What marketing channels do you use?

We use email marketing as our primary means to engage our members. We use social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to promote the new artworks and artists. We often partner with publications to launch and promote new artists and artworks on Sedition and we often participate in art fairs, festivals and exhibitions like UNPAINTED in Munich, Sonar+D in Barcelona, Art Basel Hong Kong and many others.

To make a business successful, what would you say are the skills you need?

Your team needs a variety of complementary skillsets. For example, a strong development team is integral to developing the features and maintaining the site for an online business. A strong marketing and customer support team is also valuable, as well as business development skills to build up the necessary partnerships to make your business thrive.

What are the top trends you see happening right now?

At the moment we are seeing the art world embrace digital technologies including digital storytelling. Of course people are very obsessed with Big Data and what it could tell you about your preferences – what kind of art you like and recommending more of that. We hope to see more people investing in digital art in the art market and gallery world. The value of digital work is still being negotiated but we’d like to see how this develops and how digital art will be collected and preserved for the future.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Make sure you have a good network and you know your audience. Make sure you find the right partners who can complement your skills and knowledge and can cover all the bases. Be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses and research the market. A good network is important to ensure you can build the right partnerships to support your business and give it the leverage that it needs to get noticed.

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

Images: Xylosidase by Damien Hirst and Burning Flower by Mat Collishaw. Courtesy of www.seditionart.com.