Articheck: an innovative solution for conservators

We are delighted to announce that Annika Erikson, CEO of Articheck will be at Startup Weekend Art London. Find out more about her business idea and work so far. Follow Articheck on twitter, facebook, LinkedIn Art & Technology Group and Instagram.


Tell us about you and Articheck

I am the founder and CEO of Articheck, a distruptive startup targeting the art world.

Articheck takes the manual, labour intensive process of creating condition reports, detailing the condition of artwork at a given place and time for insurance and collection management purposes, and greatly streamlines it. Artwork moves around a lot, between exhibitions, art fairs and sales. Articheck provides a digital ‘passport for art’ that is stored centrally and can be accessed and stamped by each party while the work is in transit or being exhibited, rather than everyone making a new paper report all the time.


Who is it for?

Museums, galleries, conservators, Art Studios, Shippers, framers, Auction Houses, anyone dealing with these reports.


It sounds like condition reporting needed to move to the 21rst century!

Yes, our tech stack is not ground breaking, but the combination and specification to the industries needs are.

Our biggest competitor is a piece of paper so Articheck is very disruptive!

Here are some screen shots of our app showing some of the features available.

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How did you come up with this idea?

I used to make thousands of these reports for Tate, and then later in the commercial world. I also used to be a collections cataloguer and work with the systems that Articheck will need to integrate with, so I had an ideal background for this (minus the MBA and tech knowledge of course!)


So you realised there was another, more productive and valuable way to do your job. How did you manage to turn your idea into a business?

First I could only afford interns and freelancers. It was difficult to trust random freelancers so I used people I knew.  I got people to fill gaps of knowledge and skill set as soon as possible, and then more people with art world expertise.  I had to choose between getting ‘sales’ people and getting ‘art world people’ who have done some sales but not SAAS. I choose the artworld people as I think that knowledge is more difficult to cultivate on the job.


It is always difficult to make people change the way they do things, but you made their life easier. What slowed down the take up of your app?

Not having iPads was an issue when we started a couple years ago, but less and less so and now not really mentioned.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Go for it but know what you are getting into! Long hours and constant push to the next goal, but also amazing growth and learning. Always listen to good advice from people with experience, but judge for yourself how far to take it.


What other issues could become a business idea?

A modular framework to help collections digitise their collections and share them with the public, including interesting ways of ‘telling the story’ of objects and sub-collections. They could use Articheck to take images and add some data, then export that to a ready-made website where they just make a few choices on how it is presented and the rest is quite automated. A bit like a combination of web-based software that allows easy importing wizards that identify your CSV columns and match to their template (like Mail Chimp), and website builders, but tailored for collections.


Apart from making a process much easier what good Articheck does to the arts world?

One of our plans is to use data analysis to help collections maintain their artwork, so our contribution is preserving collections for the future!

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

Dubbed "the pinterest for artists"; hear about ArtStack first hand from its co-founder

Ezra Konvitz is the co-founder of ArtStack and will be a coach during the Startup Weekend Art London.


Tell us more about the “pinterest for artists” you’ve imagined and now run

ArtStack is the best way to discover and share art. We are the largest UGC database of art in the world, with over 500,000 works on the site.

ArtStack enables anyone to engage with art, see works they don’t already know and learn about art. We serve hundreds of thousands of art lovers, art professionals (gallerists, curators, etc) and artists globally.


What’s at the heart of ArtStack?

ArtStack is the first social platform for art in the world – creating a democratic way for people to engage with art and curate their own space online. Artists, auction houses and galleries use ArtStack to their work directly to the most relevant audience: people who have already expressed an interest in what they’re doing.

We are a social platform and follow best practices from across other social sites in other domains – these can come from companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Spotify but always in an art-specific manner.

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ArtStack is all about art promotion and enjoyment – it’s built around enabling people to promote art they love (or their own work). We make it possible for people to enjoy art online, in an art-specific environment, with all the information they could possibly need to get to know the artists’ work. This means people can learn about and discover work online, and also that they’re much more likely to then go an enjoy art in person. Studies show that people who see art online are then much more likely to engage with it in person; we want to encourage this so we’ve created a specific section of the website so you can see what exhibitions are on in hundreds of cities globally, and get a real idea of whether you’d like to see them based on the artists’ work.


What drove you to create ArtStack the way it is?

We understand the art world extremely well, which helps a lot with creating an art-specific product that reflects how people engage with art offline. I did an MA in History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art before working at the Serpentine Gallery and my co-founder, James Lindon, did an MA in Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art before working at Victoria Miro Gallery, Pace and establishing his own gallery. From a user experience standpoint, we focus a lot on bringing the most relevant functionality to create an interesting platform that serves our constituents, has a natural virality and strong retention. This has a lot to do with keeping ArtStack clean, simple and easy to use, with great design.

We work with people who understand art and are passionate about the internet – art online is an exciting area but it’s still in its infancy, so passion is as important as technical proficiency.



You’ve picked up on the power of social network, what other trend you think may have such an impact too?

Social revolutionised the way we use internet and how people learn about new things. We’re bringing that to art – but there are lots of other interesting trends online. People want personalised curation and they want to share their taste more than ever before. Mobile is a key way for people to engage and so we’ve invested a lot in our apps for iPhone, iPad and Android.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Do as much as you can to test your ideas with simple hacked together solutions. Always stay focused on your end goals and dream big but make the compromises necessary to get things going quickly. Keep it simple – people would rather go to a restaurant that does one dish very well than somewhere that does a million things to a poor standard. Prioritise one key element of your product and iterate on that to make it exceptional.

Make sure you’re truly passionate about your project: it will become your life, filling every waking hour so be sure it’s something you want to think about. Start-ups aren’t for everyone, and that’s ok. They’re not something you can take a break from: if you’re not doing it, it’s probably not getting done. It’s a different level of responsibility than with a typical day job: the peaks are higher and the troughs are lower.


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

Art should be accessible to anyone – helping make people feel comfortable around art, to see more art and to enjoy it in real life are key elements of what we do with ArtStack. I want people to be able to easily have an art experience offline or online everyday. The UK government is trying to support museums develop more digital engagement, which is terrific but it’s important to remember that 80% of apps are not used more than once after they’ve been downloaded. State support for individual arts organisations is important but we need to think more about how that works in the digital context.

We’re seeing a new aesthetic develop as a result of the internet and people are using the internet as a medium which is tremendously exciting, but there will always be painting and sculpture. What’s great is that digital engagement can help more people experience and learn about more art today than ever before.

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

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!