Investing in the Early Artist’s Career with Aucart
We met with Natasha Arselan, the Founder and CEO of AucArt, a new online art platform that empowers recently graduated artists from the UK’s top 30 universities, including City & Guilds of London Art School, Royal College of Art and Camberwell College of Arts, by sourcing and selling their works in an auction-style or “buy now” purchasing process that takes place exclusively online, eliminating the need for real estate space and increasing the amount of artists that can be shown simultaneously
Inspired by her years of travel to the biggest art fairs and festivals around the world, Arselan recognized the challenges and disadvantages for young artists to launch their careers and land their work in major collections. AucArt gives early artists a chance to showcase their early works online to an international audience. Arselan shares how the AucArt process works, the importance of investing in the early years of an artist, and how to remedy hesitations to purchase artwork.
Natasha, how did you get where you are today?
Natasha Arselan: I live in London (soon to be between there and New York), and am originally from Essex, the suburbs of London. I have lived in Tel Aviv and Berlin. I don’t think there’s such thing as a ‘career move’, it’s a journey. I began my journey studying musical theatre – I quickly learnt the performance artist life was not for me. Following my studies in interdisciplinary arts, I got my MA in Art and Cultural Management while simultaneously working in various pockets of the art world including galleries, curatorial pursuits, and art journalism trying to find myself. There were a number of encounters I found unnerving so I began creating a model that would incorporate all of the aspects I did love about the art world. And so, this model, AucArt, was launched in December of 2017!
What’s AucArt all about?
NA: AucArt is about discovering and owning artworks by the next generation of artists FIRST. We connect pre-emerging artists directly with clients, giving them access to purchase directly from the artist studio. By creating an accessible channel for pre-emerging art, you’re able to purchase the work at its lowest price point while also supporting the artists themselves from the earliest point in their careers. Investing in artists early in their career is a win / win situation.You get to own beautiful artwork while also supporting the artist’s journey from the beginning – helping them reach the next phase of their career.
“It’s a great feeling to know that you’ve assisted an artist build their career.”
How did the idea of AucArt come to be?
NA: AucArt was born from various different experiences I had working in the art world. I’ll share with you the main experience that led me to begin the build: An artist in his final year of his Fine Art MA (at a prestigious London art school) who I had previously worked with on a curatorial project called me one day and asked me to come to his studio. He had no money to finish his final year project and asked me to buy a work. I, with limited funds but a strong passion for collecting art, went to the studio – it was like Aladdin’s cave I thought – why can’t everyone have access to this opportunity?! I bought a work and he’s gone on to do brilliantly well. It’s a great feeling to know that you’ve assisted an artist build their career similar to a traditional ‘art patron’. I have a fantastic artwork that is now worth at least 300% it’s value. Rather than building a gallery model that can only look after a limited number of artists at a time, I wanted to create a democratized and transparent platform that could support an increasing number of the pre-emerging artists.
What makes the AucArt auction experience unique?
NA: You cannot find a curated selection from top art school graduates from the most exciting periods in their careers (their final year through three years post-graduation) anywhere else in the world online or offline! We source and curate the talent from the top art schools and create a selection for you to browse from wherever you are in the world. You can choose how you’d like to purchase, for example, if you click ‘buy now’ should you not wish to bid and wait for auction to close, we will have the work shipped to you anywhere in the world usually within a week of purchase. It’s quite extraordinary.
What is your criteria for featuring a new artist?
NA: They have to be within their final year of art school or within 3 years of graduation (BA & MA). The work has to demonstrate consistency whether it be in aesthetic or subjective. Some artists bring new innovative mediums and so far we have focused mainly on 2d works. A creditable CV is always a plus.
Based on your experience, how do your customers (designers & collectors) typically search for the ‘right’ piece of art?
NA: Different clients search for different elements in the work, that’s what’s so great. Some of our designers and collectors look at the aesthetics including size, palette, mood, how the art work will compliment/fit other elements within the interior, and how the colors will enhance other aspects of the environment and mood of the interior. Others look at the subject matter – does the artwork take you somewhere else (in your imagination), does the work make you feel, does it remind you of something, someone, somewhere? Others look for more experimental mediums such as 2d works you can hang on the on the wall that are not paintings that may be more sculptural.
“Living in the presence of original artworks is priceless.”
In your experience, why do people hesitate to purchase art for their residence? Do you have some words of advice to remedy that feeling?
NA: It’s usually the first purchase that causes the most hesitation because they haven’t invested in artwork before (or bought work online). Once they’ve dived in with their first purchase and the work has arrived and they are in the presence of the piece, the hesitation instantly disappears. A large number of our clients are already returning clients. It’s about trusting yourself and following your instinct. I often have new clients saying things like, “I don’t know enough”. You don’t need to know, you need to feel. Living in the presence of original artworks is priceless. In regards to buying from a PDF, the works 99% of the time are always better in real-life, so if you like the work as a JPEG, you’ll love the work in the flesh.
How do you typically work with interior designers?
NA: Interior designers and design studios will purchase independently through the site. Alternatively, if they are searching for something more specific, they will send their requirements to one of our team specialists at email@example.com for assistance commissions and tailored selections.
Can you offer interior designers tips of best practices for sourcing art for client projects?
NA: It’s all about understanding the needs and vision of an interior designer. It’s crucial to understand what a designer is trying to achieve on behalf of their client, and, matching these points with artworks that answer those questions.
In your opinion, why should artists and clients use your platform?
NA: AucArt’s mission is like Ivy’s for artists and clients. Our software is there to make our users’ lives easier! In three clicks you can purchase an artwork that’s delivered to you. Why would you want to make more work for yourself? That’s why we’ve created seamless systems to allow clients’ experiences to be nothing but enjoyable and creative without having to worry about the practicalities.
What’s next for AucArt?
NA: It’s just the beginning (AucArt turned one in December)! We’ve proven that AucArt is a much needed and desired platform by both our clients and our artists. We are focusing on growth going into year two, growing our roster of artists, inventory of artworks, and our client base! We also have some exciting partnerships in the pipeline. Sign up to AucArt to get the latest news first (it’s free!).
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