The development of technology and the growth of the internet and social media is changing our society and consequently the art world. The ways in which we contemplate and consume art and even the intricacies of the art market are shifting and adapting with the appearance of platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Paddle8, Artsy, Art Rank and more. ArtStack, a discovery tool with a social element, has been growing and creating its place since 2011. Aujourd'hui spoke with Ezra Konvitz, one of its Co-Founders, to learn more about his past, what makes ArtStack unique and its plans for the future.
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background ?
I started ArtStack in late 2011 with my old university friend and business partner, James Lindon. We'd met each other more than a decade before, in our first year at Cambridge - neither of us were studying art undergraduate but both went on to do masters in it, me in art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art and him in curating contemporary art at the Royal College of Art. Years later, when I was working at the Serpentine Gallery in London and James was an art dealer in NY, we started talking about how we could bring art online - ArtStack was the eventual product of that conversation: a concept that reflected how people discover art in the 'real world' but made it easier, simpler and more efficient.
How did ArtStack begin and who is its target audience? Is it mainly artists, art lovers, professionals, curators, students, everyone?
We were working in art and found it was too hard to discover new art - we wanted to replicate (and make more frequent) that fantastic moment when someone tells you about an artist you don't know and you're blown away by their work. ArtStack was always conceived as a democratic platform where everyone could participate, share their taste and join the conversation - and to enable the best, most interesting works to ultimately be seen by the most people. We started as an invite-only platform for people active in the art world with the concept that any system that worked for art professionals would also work for a wider community. Once we knew ArtStack was effective, we opened it up and now the community includes a lot of people who work in art as curators, artists and gallerists, and also collectors, other creatives and people who just love art.
Since the birth of ArtStack other social media platforms have been growing a great acceptance in the art world, mainly Instagram. Magazines, auctions, galleries, social platforms, and so on, have all been steadily focusing on the digital and online world. How does ArtStack differ from everything else?
ArtStack is an art first platform and community. We designed every aspect so that it answers the needs of people interested in art - and the content, of course, is purely art-specific. This means that you won't find pictures of someone's lunch cluttering up your feed, but also that you can easily see every work by any artist, zoom on artworks, read bios, check dimensions, and find out what exhibitions are on in any city. We're the largest art community platform in the world and we're focused on constantly innovating to provide the best ways of seeing and discovering art online.
Platforms such as ArtStack and all the existing social media surely contribute to a democratisation of culture, information and its circulations. Do you ever fear that it will lead to an overwhelming point of over-information?
Not everything is precious, despite our desire to repeatedly immortalise our experiences. That's why curation is increasingly important in our digital era. As a specialised niche social network, we started from a point of providing people with a means to share their own curated selections with develop their own personalised feed of art that's interesting to them - and, of course, we've been blessed to have an enormous quantity of work uploaded to ArtStack which enables us to make increasingly relevant links between images to always provide the most relevant content to our users.
ArtStack has engaged in projects such as a crowd-sourced auction in partnership with Christie's. What are the plans for the future? Any more partnerships or initiatives?
We were thrilled to work with Christie's on the first ever crowd-sourced auction initiative, which brought eight terrific artworks to sale at Christie's from over 11,000 artist submissions based on a popular vote. We're always interested in developing creative projects - both in the art world and with other creative industries. In 2014, we worked with fashion designer Mary Katrantzou on a crowd curation project, which was really interesting in bringing together fashion and art. We're absolutely looking forward to doing more of these kinds of collaborations!
What are your thoughts on the future of art and the way it is created and experienced, both online and offline?
Digital technology has the potential to change art as much as the printing press changed literature. I think we are at the start of a really exciting time where we'll see new forms of digital production and experience, as well as more crossover between the online and offline worlds - the art world has been slow to embrace technology but it is happening more and more both from a creative standpoint and from a commercial one.
Exclusive interview by Aujourd'hui.