As Artfinder’s Business Development Manager, I don’t get the opportunity often enough to meet with our artists!
One of our core values as a team is that there are ‘no truths inside the office’, so any chance to go out and learn is a welcome experience, and face to face meetings are always so much more valuable than you expect them to be.
Luckily though, a couple of weeks ago, I had a trip scheduled to the Big Apple to meet a few interesting businesses we’re collaborating with, plus some interiors journalists. As Jonas mentioned a couple of months ago in his post about LA, Artfinder will be opening offices in the US in the next few months so a visit to the East Coast was a must!
I had a busy week planned - with meetings all over Manhattan. But one of the highlights was our artist meetup, held at The Ten Bells - a wonderfully charming wine bar in the Lower East Side - what many would say is the (new) art centre of New York!
Our New York artists are an incredibly interesting bunch and it was not only great to meet everyone, but also see new connections between artists being made. I got great feedback from all the artists present about everything from shipping to the blog!
It was especially great to hear about their stories, how they discovered Artfinder and what it has meant to them. Some artists were recruited via Instagram, others stumbled upon the site, many others heard about it through friends.
I met great artists, including Seunghwui Koo - whose studio I had visited earlier that day. Koo creates fascinating sculptures with tiny piggies and plays around with this animal in her pieces. Some of them really pull your eye in, others, like the rhinestone covered pig with a human body, are slightly disturbing, but at the same time, attractive. ‘Voyeuristic’ is the word that came to mind.
I also met with Vladimir Navarov’s son, James who helps him manage his art. Vladimir creates these giant canvases with vibrant colours and pop-like figurines that question and explore the feeling of love in a fascinating way. In fact, Vladimir was exhibiting in a new concept gallery show inside the medical offices of Dr. Schwartz on 5th avenue. I visited the show the following morning and I was shocked at how much life his artwork brought to the medical practice. It was incredibly captivating. Not only this, but speaking with the doctors at the office I learnt that they truly believed that the art had an effect on their patients’ recovery - it is something incredibly hard to measure or study but they were convinced it had an effect.
It was wonderful to see artists meet each other and share their stories. Artists that lived in the same city, many in the same area, but who had never met each other, acted as if they had been long life friends. It was truly inspiring. Domenica Brockman shared a fascinating story about how she likes to ‘pay it forward’. Every time she makes a sale, she buys something from another artist on Artfinder and at the meet up, she met one of the artists she had purchased from, Reinder Oldenburger. It was incredibly rewarding to see these offline connections being made, especially when when working in an online business.
I could continue writing for two more days about the wonderful experience I had and the wonderful people I met. I could talk about Cindy Press’s Instagram recruitment with her gorgeous girls, I could talk about Daniel Heller’s work as an architect and the concerns he has in regards to sales, I could go on forever.
Although Artfinder is revolutionising the art world by taking sales online and reassuring artists that they in fact can make a living selling art online, there is something that still is in the core of our mission: to connect art lovers. This is something that is initiated online and we do a fantastic job at it by encouraging buyers to communicate with the artist via our messaging platform - even before a sale is made. However, personal interaction, human touch and face to face conversations will never be able to be replaced, and that is why at Artfinder we go to great lengths to meet, to know, to listen to our customers, but especially our artists. Our artists don’t work for us, they aren’t simply sellers on the platform, they are our partners, and it is our mission to grow this community of art lovers so that every artwork finds a home, and every home, can open its doors to that perfect artwork.
So what’s next? Over the next couple of months we will continue to meet artists, customers, art lovers, or simply those who are curious about what we do, and we’ll keep you updated on our progress looking for that US office. Our most immediate plans include visits to Miami and Washington D.C. in September where I will again, actively reach out to our artists in the area. In that same way, I want to encourage everyone to do the same - organise a meet up in your city, knock on your neighbour’s door, share your thoughts and experiences, share your passions.