This week PHOTOFAIRS spoke with Sureyya Wille, working on the Global Strategic Partnerships team at Artsy, the leading global art platform. In this role, Sureyya drives partnerships with the world’s leading art fairs, gallery weekends as well as gallery associations, helping them to reach a wider audience of collectors and art lovers. Her work seeks to make art accessible to the rapidly growing audience of the digital age.
I remember reading an article in Das Magazin (a Swiss magazine) in 2012 during Art Basel week headlining that Artsy will revolutionize the art world. Looking back 7 years, how do you think this rings true?
5-10 years ago the art world was much more resistant to innovation, technology, and moving online. When Artsy launched in 2012, there were still many questions about whether the art world could actually move online. Artsy’s entrance to the market changed this concept and introduced questions (and answers) to when and how the art world would move into the digital space. Artsy has revolutionized the art world by addressing some of the key barriers of entry to the art market by providing greater data transparency, better tools for easy transaction, features to help buyers make confident purchase decisions, and better connect users with the right inventory.
Artsy’s entrance to the market changed this concept and introduced questions (and answers) to when and how the art world would move into the digital space.
In your view what was the most exciting work sold through Artsy?
What’s exciting about Artsy’s platform is the breadth and depth of inventory available from all kinds of galleries around the world, ranging from works in the hundreds of dollars to works in the millions of dollars. Of course it’s always exciting to see big-ticket sales, like a $2 million work that sold last spring (our highest priced work ever sold), but we are also excited to see increased velocity of sales in the lower and middle end of the market as the platform makes the collecting process seamless and lowers the barrier of entry for newcomers.
The art world was - for a quite a long period - reluctant to adapt to the digital world and is still struggling to fully embrace the internet and its merits. What in your view are the reasons for this struggle in adapting to the digital? And what are your key tips for galleries to make their online appearance more effective?
Relationships, brands, and reputation have always been extremely important in the art world, and these factors contributed to the delay of adapting to digital. In order to make their online appearance more effective, galleries should take a multi-channel approach and establish a digital presence through gallery websites, social media, organic search, and third-party platforms. Galleries should make sure that inventory is available, up to date, has a price when possible, and is visible on multiple online channels. They should also make sure to stay engaged and available in communication with prospective collectors and support and maintain relationships with collectors before and after they purchase even if they never meet in person.
In order to make their online appearance more effective, galleries should take a multi-channel approach and establish a digital presence through gallery websites, social media, organic search, and third-party platforms.
Artsy is the most successful online platform in the art world and seems to be growing significantly each year. What do you think makes Artsy stand out from other online platforms?
Unlike most online art companies that compete with existing art businesses, Artsy partners directly with the leading players in the art world to expand their reach to a global audience of collectors and art enthusiasts. This is key, as we work with the industry to help art businesses grow via digital channels, as opposed to disrupting the industry. Another aspect of Artsy’s platform that differentiates us is our comprehensiveness. Artsy unites the fragmented pieces of the traditional art ecosystem into a single, centralized online marketplace. Collectors on Artsy can discover and purchase for-sale artworks from the world’s leading galleries, auction houses, and fairs in one place—something that no online or brick-and-mortar business has ever done. Finally, Artsy is unique in the art world in that we value technology and product innovation. We have a world-class engineering team that is constantly innovating and improving the buying and selling experience for collectors and galleries, auction houses, and art fairs.
As made evident in the recent Symposium Talking Galleries in Barcelona, VR is the next big thing that is going to affect how we experience not only our immediate world but also how we encounter art. What are Artsy’s plans in incorporating VR into its platform?
While we have no current plans to incorporate VR, we have explored and integrated augmented reality (AR) into our platform. In April 2018, Artsy launched a new AR feature on our app that allows users to preview works before purchasing by virtually “hanging” the work of art on their wall. This feature was introduced to help buyers make confident purchase decisions when transacting online.
In April 2018, Artsy launched a new AR feature on our app that allows users to preview works before purchasing by virtually “hanging” the work of art on their wall.
Part of your role is to grow Artsy’s partnerships with the Asia Pacific region, a region that has been neglected by the Western art market for quite a few years but is booming, so much so that experts say, that China will become the global art market leader. Which city or country do you think is one to watch for the future?
Hong Kong and Mainland China have established very sophisticated art markets for quite some time and we are also seeing a lot of expansion in South Korea and Japan. Beyond that, I would look to pockets of Southeast Asia for some really exciting and creative voices.
Having worked in Asia for a long time, what are the main differences between the Asian and Western art market you have noticed? What makes the Asian market - one might say - so much more dynamic?
For me, it’s always been the entrepreneurial spirit, thirst for innovation and embracing of change that makes Asia such an exciting place to work.
You have lived in Hong Kong for quite a few years, what are you missing now that you have moved to London and what are the things that you missed when living in Asia?
In Hong Kong you are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to food and travel. I miss both terribly. I have to be honest I didn’t miss much, perhaps cheese—I am Swiss after all.