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!

Explore the world of online business with Artfinder: sponsor and judge of SWArt London

Jonas Almgren, CEO of Artfinder, sponsor and judge of Startup Weekend Art London wants to help you own art you love.


Hi Jonas, tell us about Artfinder and your work.

I’m the CEO of  Artfinder, a marketplace for affordable art, allowing artists to reach art buyers globally. Similarly to Airbnb and Etsy, we market our sellers and enable all transactions, but we do not keep any stock and we do not fulfill any orders.


What’s great about the Artfinder marketplace?
Previously, art buyers looking for authentic, handmade art had to go to small, local galleries with a limited selection and inflated prices, and artists had no way to reach a global audience.  Our marketplace enable buyers to find affordable art they love, and artists to live from the art they produce.


Who buys from Artfinder?
Customers who want to add personality to their homes with affordable, unique art, and who aren’t happy with impersonal, mass produced posters and print-on-demand products.


How is Artfinder positioned against the competition?
We disrupt the market for mass produced wall décor, dominated by retailers such as Ikea and Pottery Barn, as people that previously thought handcrafted art was expensive and exclusive realise that they can buy truly unique, yet affordable, pieces with a real, lasting value.


What is your business model?

We are an online marketplace, and as such, we’re looking at other marketplaces, such as Airbnb and Etsy, for inspiration.


What type of skills do you need to develop your solutions/products?
We’re an online business, so we are always looking for software, design, marketing, and customer/partner relationship skills.


How did you choose and create your team?
As in any start-up, the team is the key. We’re looking for independent, self-driven people that are pragmatic and that can thrive in a fast paced, often fast changing (some would say chaotic), environment.


What are the top trends you see happening right now in the online businesses world?
Online businesses are still evolving very quickly, and new marketing and sales techniques are constantly being developed. It’s important to realise that we’re still just at the very beginning of online commerce, and even more so in the area of online marketplaces.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
To not fall in love with their business plan. Get out there, talk to prospects and customers, both before and after the business has been launched. Constantly test concepts, and make sure that you learn from every experience. Get smart, and adapt quickly.


Give us an idea for improving how we fund, make, share and enjoy art and culture?
Too much in the area of art funding has to do with events and venues. But the only direct way to fund artists is to buy their art. We need to focus more on selling art, and less on displaying it. More people should live with, and enjoy art every day, not just when they visit a museum or gallery.


How could the work you’ve done in your company be relevant to art promotion and enjoyment?
It’s about spreading the word that art is not expensive, it’s easy to buy, and it’s for everyone to enjoy.

Artfinder Logo

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 –  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.

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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!

Welcome to a new world of finance . . .

If you are a startup trying to break into the Financial sector, an exciting new FinTech organisation, Innovate Finance, which only launched last week, might be the difference between rocketing to success and running out of fuel before you really get going.

For any startup that has struggled to thrive because of strict regulations, a lack of resources and support, or due to a lack of access to the right connections, Innovate Finance is opening the door to a store of opportunities to solve those problems.

Uniting the key players of the industry, Innovate Finance is bringing together talented new startups with established financial companies, policymakers, regulators, investors and key commercial partners, in order to achieve a transformation of financial services that could not be done alone.

Not only does the organisation have backing from big businesses, who are offering resources, market access and expertise to new startups, it is also receiving a wealth of support from the UK government, which is contributing over £100m worth of investment and establishing a new regulatory environment to support innovation in the financial sector.

With its strong ecosystem and the promise of new events and opportunities for startups, it is a very exciting community for any entrepreneur looking to break into the financial sector.

It’s not just the world of banking that is opening its doors to entrepreneurs either. Aviva, one of the UK’s biggest insurers, is also one of the founding 50 members of Innovate Finance. If you’re a startup with an idea that could transform the insurance industry, then there’s a real opportunity to grab here. Perhaps you could be the startup that finds a way to simplify life insurance, or that utilises wearable technology to create a great solution for insurance customers, or even the startup that comes up with an interesting way to make insurance feel more personal.

There’s a gold mine of opportunities – it’s just about unearthing that nugget of brilliance that could transform the industry for the better.

To find out more about Innovate Finance head to and if you want to find out more about Aviva’s work with the startup community head to


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!

Weaving innovation into the arts worlds from trends in software development in IT

reemMeet Reem Zahran, Director of Offering Development at IMS health.

Throughout her career in software and technology, spanning mobile, SaaS, cloud and business intelligence, she has delivered products and services by managing transformational change and deployment of modern development practices.

How to use this knowledge and expertise in other industries? With a deep interest in arts and culture, Reem visits the key trends in software development to highlights areas which will spur innovation in the arts world.


What is it exactly that you do?

I build and run software development teams in the information and technology arenas. My core skills are to build up high-performing teams and design and integrate organisations.

I am particularly good at hiring talent as well as spotting gaps in operational flows/practices and organisational models. At IMS Health where I work now, I have built the first ever offshore development centers, established the first global QA & Test practice and the first ever mobile solutions team. Another key achievement has been implementing the first global Software as a Service business intelligence platform with 99.5% availability serving more than 20,000 users with several offerings hosted on the platform.

IMS Health is the world’s leading information, services and technology company dedicated to making healthcare perform better. IMS Health’s core value is to integrate and connect more than 10 petabytes of complex healthcare data on diseases, treatments, costs and outcomes to enable our customers to run their operations more efficiently.


What are the benefits of connecting such huge amount of data? 

By building these solutions we’re able to provide customers with simple and compelling ways of visualising complex data relating to their needs in order to understand their performance against competitive parameters. This enables IMS to monetise the data in new and different ways while enabling the customers to consider different strategies and take actions to optimise performance. It helps identify behaviours and is used as a basis for innovation and creating new business models which would not be apparent otherwise.


What innovative technology do you develop and use?

Mobile and business intelligence technologies for data transformation and visualisation.

I’m seeing more opportunity to use technologies such as these within the arts and exhibitions. The current Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the Barbican includes an application that takes the visitor into more of his world creating a new interaction and experience. Using this application as part of the exhibition offers a very different experience about the artist, his fashion and his story.


What type of skills do you need in your line of work?

Knowing talent and recognising people’s potential and creativity are critical. Empowering people and bringing together teams to look at how to solve problems within constraints is paramount to delivering great solutions.

While cost cutting is usually at the top of the agenda, when setting up teams, it is paramount to get the right people to bring their skills, their approach and attitude.


 What are the top trends you see happening right now? To help guide the StartupWeekend Art entrepreneurs, which ones are the most relevant to improve how we fund, make, share and enjoy art?

  • Cloud computing, data management and hosting; for cost effectiveness and scalability
  • Mobile technology with augmented reality will bring even more interaction in how we access and use data. This is something to watch!
  • Unifying the customer experience and enchanting customers. Offering compelling, customised customer experiences I believe is going to be huge. Key questions here are: what is the personal journey of the customer.

This last point I feel is very relevant now to art promotion and enjoyment. Any gallery or museum should consider the journey of anyone viewing the art form to create a richer experience.


Have you got a specific idea you can share?

People now go to galleries and museums with their friends to share the experience. It is becoming more of a social event with mixed groups of people and this dynamic offers new opportunities. I think some questions that need to be considered are:

  • Who do they go with?
  • What do they do in and around the exhibit?
  • How do they enjoy and share the experience?

Looking into this and gathering this type of data would help identify how to sustain custom and create new services/experiences. Considering how to collect data from these customers and how to build a view of the population of art lovers and the people they introduce to the exhibits will help create new value propositions.

Another route in integrating art into life could be facilitated using augmented reality for example, becoming part of the contemporary artists’ toolkit, providing remote views into exhibitions, buying limited edition art and so on.


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

Introducing Lizbeth Goodman, founder of SMARTlab and MAGIClab

Professor Lizbeth Goodman (BA, MA, MLitt, PhD), will be one of the judges at Startup Weekend Art London.


Lizbeth’ activities:

  • Professor of Inclusive Design for Education
  • Chair of Creative Technology Innovation at University College Dublin, where she directs SMARTlab and the Inclusive Design Research Centre of Ireland
  • Executive Board member of the Innovation Academy
  • Elected Chair of the Social Sciences Committee of the Royal Irish Academy.

SMARTlab’s European main base is currently located in bespoke sensory studios at UCD, with a new SMARTsolutionsLAB in development off campus, whilst new sister site studios and projects are underway in Seattle at the Digital Futures Lab of the University of Washington, in Toronto at the Ontario College of Art and Design University, in London at Ravensbourne College of Art & Design (in TechCity), and in collaboration with other high level research sites due to come on stream soon.

Lizbeth founded the SMARTlab in its first iteration at the BBC-Open University in 1992 and has developed the world-renowned practice-based PhD Programme through the institute. She founded the associated MAGIC Multimedia and Games Innovation Centre and Gamelab at UEL with industry collaborators, as a prime knowledge transfer space for the Creative Industries and Education, in the London Docklands in 2005.  She has supervised over 36 PhDs to successful completion and has examined another 30 in the UK, Ireland and globally.

She has written and edited 13 books and many peer-reviewed articles and broadcasts. She supervises and mentors PhD and industry/research council projects in the areas of: Inclusive Design for Education and Creative Technology Innovation, Digital Media, ICT4d, Assistive Technologies for People with Disabilities and the Elderly, Technology Futures, Wearables and SMART Textiles, Performance Technologies, Assistive Tech and Innovations, Technology Enhanced Learning for Health and Well Being, Connected Health, Personalised Electronic Health Systems, Digital Materialisation, Virtual Worlds for Digital Inclusion, Haptic and HCI integrated studies, and what Lizbeth calls ‘Meaningful Games’ or Mobile Games for Learning.

Lizbeth and her teams specialise in developing ground-up technology solutions for people of all levels of cognitive and physical ability, from mainstream learners of all ages to ‘special’ and ‘gifted’ learners and lifelong learners in the developed and developing worlds. In all her work, she applies a universal design method to practice-based innovation to transform lives through providing unlimited access to education and tools for creative expression.  She is a lifelong advocate of lifelong learning, and has co-designed some of the most valued and utilised learning technology platforms of the past few decades.

Prior to joining UCD, Lizbeth was Director of Research for Futurelab Education, working with David Puttnam’s team to establish innovative platforms for the future of education in a context of global change.

She is known as an expert in Digital Inclusion, including learning models for communities at risk. She is an award-winning advocate of community-based ethical learning and teaching models using interactive tools and games to inspire and engage learners of all ages. She specialises in working with people who do not have physical voices (whether due to disability, injury, illiteracy, or other social/political factors), enabling the use of new creative technologies for expression vocally, in writing, and with movement and music. She sees the potential for inclusive learning tools and ethnically diverse university sectoral representation to change the landscape of university education, globally. Yet she is an advocate of ‘connected learning’ rather than ‘blended’ or ‘distance’ learning, as she sees the vital role of the personal and embodied learning dynamics as key to success.


Originally trained in Literature, Drama and Philosophy, and active for many years as a professional performer and broadcast (TV-radio-convergent media) researcher/presenter with BBC Interactive Media/Education and the Open University, she has published widely in the areas of digital inclusion, performance technologies, e-learning, connected learning, embodied learning, social networking for community engagement, social entrepreneurship models in ICT, and games for learning. In this regard, she co-developed several groundbreaking teaching and learning tools and games with significant take up worldwide, which have led to the foundation of several successful charities for women and children at risk.

For eight years, Lizbeth worked closely with Microsoft Community Affairs as Senior Researcher on the large scale Club Tech project in the USA- which has reached nearly 7 million of the most disadvantaged children and young people worldwide; that project is now being reconceptualised for roll out in a new format in Europe and the EMEA regions. She is also Honourary International Research Advisor for RITSEC in Cairo and Dubai, and has acted as special advisor to the developing Assistive Technology Centre of ITC Qatar in Doha.

She has won and directed many large international research projects. Current projects include the Doctrid AssistID project which launched in June 2014, supporting 40 full time post-doctoral researchers studying inclusive design for education and the role of assistive technologies in the learning landscape; the Healthbook Project which creates virtual worlds and virtual medical clinics to address major world health challenges such as obesity, whilst providing personalised mobile secure patient data platforms; the Learnovate Centre for which she is one of  UCD’s two co-PIS of the all-Ireland centre for development of new learning technologies; and the E-Access Project for the EC’s Marie Curie Leonardo Programme, which is developing and testing new personalised learning tools for international use.

In the academic sector, she has led departments, schools and institutes to successful outcomes in times of change, and has chaired many validation and exam panels, admissions and assessment committees, as well as dozens of PhD vivas. She has served as the external assessor for numerous MA and PhD programmes internationally. She is currently an active member of the UCD Academic Council, AC Committee on Internationalisation, AC Committee on Research Strategy, AC Committee on Degree Titles and Awards, University Graduate Studies Programme Board, AC Committee on Research Centres and Institutes, as well as Chairing the School of Education’s Graduate Studies Committee and serving on the Executive of the School, and the School Research and Ethics Committees.

In the not-for-profit sector, she is founder and President of the (SafetyNET): a charity active internationally in the fight to help stop violence against women and children, and of the Trust and Interfaces organisations to make games for children in hospital and persistent care, and for people with severe physical disabilities but unlimited imaginations. She is also an active board member of SpecialEffect: an Oxford-based charity making learning games for young people with special needs.


She sits on many national and international task forces and judging/assessment panels for local and international governments, for the UK Government, the European Commission, the Canadian Innovation Fund, the Wellcome Trust, the British Council, The World Summit for Education, The Humanities in the European Research Area/EC Awards, The World Summit for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Creative Capital, Unesco, et al. She holds industry collaboration projects as PI and has held similar roles previously with the BBC, Microsoft, Nokia, et al. She is currently working closely with JISC and the EPSRC on the ITAAU+ network, exploring the role of IT as a Utility in education and technology development. She is also developing the Roadmap to Open Responsible Innovation in the context of the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Commission.


She won the Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteer Service to Women and Children in 2003, and has had her technology-performance work for inclusion featured as Best Practice showcase winners at several World Summits since 2003.

In 2008, while leading SMARTlab and the MAGIClab at UEL, she was awarded the top prizes for Best Woman in the Academic and Public Sectors, and Outstanding Woman in Technology, by Blackberry RIM and their international industry judging panels.

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


Meet the team behind crowd-funding platform 52masterworks, building collection of contemporary art with you

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Elisa: It’s lovely to see you here in London, Anabel! What brings you here from Munich?

Anabel: This Friday (27th June 2014) is the TED Conference on the theme of Democracy, so I have come out of personal interest as there are always interesting contacts to meet there. I am very interested in social change and innovative strategies that can lead to this, for example, through technology, as new approaches to continuing problems are always interesting.


Elisa: Is this philosophy what informs and drives you in your start-up work at 52masterworks?

Anabel: Absolutely! 52masterworks is a new crowd-funding platform with the aim of building a collection of contemporary art with the community. There are several motivations that inform our model:

  1. the establishment of a well renowned, high quality collection;
  2. the aspect of art investment: the collection is dynamic, so within a time-frame of up to 5 years art pieces can be sold. If there is a price increase, the shareholders of the specific piece receive the benefit;
  3. to democratise access to an art collection for a wider audience;
  4. the organisation of art related events for our community members.


Elisa: That’s an incredible mission statement! In practise, is it empowering communities in art appreciation and ownership? Is that essentially the gap you are filling?

Anabel: Yes; the idea behind the project is that contemporary art –prestigious pieces in particular –are usually limited to certain collectors who can afford them. Our platform is a tool to change this, as everyone can become a collector starting with 250€ for a share in a piece via the 52masterworks platform. The percentage of ownership of the specific piece varies, depending on the amount you invest, which can be up to a maximum of 49% of the value. In this way, nobody can own a piece alone, but rather in a community with other members of the platform. This new approach can change the parameters of the art market to a more democratic standard. Basically, everyone can own a great piece of art, independent from their financial background.

But this isn’t the only problem 52masterworks is working to solve: our simultaneous aim is to help establish emerging artists that might not get a platform within the art market due to their origins, the themes of their work or problematics related to its display. In order to guarantee a high profile and quality, we are creating a curatorial board and network from a broad cultural range.


Elisa: So who does the platform principally help and is it making a real difference?

Anabel: The platform serves whoever is interested in art and new strategies within this field. We are tapping into this broad community to build up a democratic art collection, with a model that is, to the best of our knowledge, unique in the world and that differentiates us to similar approaches which aim to create a “stock market in art”. We would like to encourage our participants to engage with art, independent of the value and reputation of the artworks and artists. Thus, 52masterworks serves as an easy entry for anybody who is interested in art but has been confronted with the typical entry barriers of the art world so far. Our concept may further promote the democratization of art, itself a relatively new but inexorable trend.


Elisa: In the UK there is a company called Own Art that essentially enables art enthusiasts who otherwise don’t have the funds, to buy art by giving a ten- month interest free loan, but this is still far from the public, community concept of 52masterworks. Therefore I can really appreciate your model-  but how do you make money?

Anabel: That is a great initiative, yet still keeps art in private homes, as you have understood. Our business is based on commission, in that we receive a margin at the sale and resale of the artwork. The final commission is 20 percent of a potential increase in value. Thus, there is a clear incentive to act in the interest of the collectors.


Elisa: Does it require a lot of advertising to get the message out there to these potential co-collectors?

Anabel: At the very beginning we concentrated on event marketing and personal introductions. We are now shifting our focus towards cooperations and collaborations with multipliers. Finally, we are also expanding our online activities. Our model is not comparable to the usual e-commerce businesses. We focus on relevant content and trust in order to build up a strong community: the typical performance marketing approach will not work for us.


Elisa: So what are the top trends you see happening in e-commerce and the art-world right now, and how do you fit in with them?

Anabel: As I mentioned before, the democratization of the art world is an omnipresent development which will definitely continue expanding. But our concept also addresses other major social trends: it fits perfectly into a post-materialistic society which is more and more driven by individual experiences and social collaboration than of ownership and status. The sharing economy has already reached many areas of life, such as transport: Art is overdue.


Elisa: Finally, what advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs

Anabel: Believe in what you are doing and don’t let yourself be discouraged by setbacks. If something doesn’t work, try something else and take it as a learning curve. There will be enough time to moan when you’re older.


Elisa: Strong words. I’ll be visiting you in Munich!

Anabel: Definitely, we must do things here and now!

Team Tobias Ledermann und Kuenstler 52mw Logo big

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

On building a successful cultural association: Enrica Mannari, director of Pirati e Sirene

Elisa: Hello, Enrica! I know this is a busy time for you, as Pirati e Sirene has just turned one; congratulations! So what have you been doing with the startup exactly?

Enrica: is a cultural association dedicated to promoting the life, the style and the culture of the Etruscan coast, which is in Tuscany. We have been promoting it both on- and offline, with the online element having the main aim of strengthening the fidelity of our supporters, whilst helping the brand and its reputation to expand. The offline side of things consolidates the online, by weaving relationships with people and working actively in the area the website glorifies.


El: For me it seems this is a very community-based project that uses the Internet as a means of expanding this community, then?

En: Absolutely; it reaches out to the people who live along the coast as well as anyone who would like to visit the area. The main reason for establishing Pirati e Sirene was to fill a glaring gap in social exchange by forming a network made up of creatives and cultural events along the coast, and which, most importantly, would be a network accessible to everyone that could be consulted (and therefore updated) on a daily basis.


El: Would you say that you have filled this gap, and made a lot of noise in doing so?

En: Let’s put it this way: the strategy of using the web has led to us currently having a pool of users which comes to 30,000 individual views per month. After only a year of Pirati e Sirene’s existence, for such a ‘local’ project (for want of a better word), these numbers are very satisfying.


El: It must be a crazy experience to be reaching out to so many people! What is the main way you do this?

En: Well the Internet is obviously our main channel of communication, as it is the best way to get ourselves known and spread the word. This means that graphics, videos and photos all play an important role on our website and in promotional materials, both for advertising to potential followers and sponsors, as well as for maintaining a strong character that has brought our current users to continue following us.


El: And how do you generate money to continue offering this intense user experience?

En: This comes from a range of online activities that our site carries out, meaning the platform is self-maintaining in this way; so, for example, through articles and editorials that we publish on our portal and communications and market design workshops that we offer there. These could be given in person, but are further-reaching when offered online. We are, of course, very active offline, as well, organizing events and representing Pirati e Sirene at the events of others, too.


El: Do you think this blend of both on- and offline work is a trend in art-related startups right now?

En: Yes and no. The art-scene is becoming an ever-more ‘cross-contaminated’ environment, both in personal inclination and as a vocation. I would say that the best thing that is happening to the art scene now is indeed the fact that it is finding its way absolutely everywhere, thanks first and foremost to the web.


El: The Internet is even taking the art-world by storm; it’s true! Finally, on that very note, what advice would you give to people who want to start up their own digital business within the arts field?

En: Be professional to the max, have a great idea and surround yourself with trustworthy, reliable collaborators. It must be something you believe in wholeheartedly, and so you will be able to defend it against everyone who tries to find fault. Remember that a global approach is the formula that our times ask of us right now.


Here is a video made on the occasion of their first anniversary:

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