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4 Art Start-up Entrepreneurs Offer Their Tricks to Success
Need some inspiration to achieve what you want in life?
Art Stuff 30 Sep 2021

Need some inspiration to achieve what you want in life? We asked four entrepreneurs from around the globe with very different art start-ups, to offer up their tips and tricks to success.

Paul Hill of Strada

Strada is a curated online marketplace for fine art. The platform allows independent artists and galleries to show their portfolio while selling artwork from their own profile. They eliminate the industry’s standard 50/50 commission split with 88% to the art seller. Art collectors can find a selection of artworks depending on their interests and budget. A portion of all proceeds funds artist grants with priority for BIPOC artists. With our platform, artists, and mission to support our community, we are reaching an untapped demographic of mostly Gen Z and Millennial art collectors.

I’m a Gen Z artist and technologist. With everything that I create, I am to help as many people as I can. My last app, Pronto! – Community, was a database for Black Lives Matter protestors to make supporting grassroots organizations easier. With that, I was able to help 12,000+ users donate to an organization near them. With Strada, we are helping fine artists pursue full time careers by having the resources to connect with collectors and other artists from home. I started working on Strada while selling my own artwork. I realized there are no resources for independent artists and galleries to share portfolios and list artworks for sale while building community.

Paul’s Tips & Tricks to success?

Advice I would offer to others is focus on curation. A key factor of our early success is meticulously curating our events and platform to make sure that we only have artworks that we love. In return, the majority of works find themselves in the hands of collectors easily.

Maribelle Bierens of where’s the frame? 

where’s the frame? is a fresh kind of online gallery for the new generation in the arts. Putting artists central, our audience can collect and learn about art in a way that prioritises artists themselves. With a team of creatives, we launch a collection of art and accompanying virtual exhibitions and sell to an international collector’s base.  Next to that, we have partnerships with hundreds of artists all over the world to find the right collector for their art. We also have an editorial page on our platform where we publish weekly interviews with artists or write about art news. In other words, we are a platform where artists can learn about each other’s practices, where people can discover the newest generation of artists and collect their works as well – we’re a one-stop URL to discover, learn about, and collect vanguard art. While studying at Central Saint Martins, doing a research master in art, my friend and classmate Gianina Ivodie and I got the urge to show the people from outside the arts what the new generation of creatives was cooking up. Everything felt cutting edge and fresh. Being so amazed by the creativity of our peers, we started playing with the idea of organising pop-up exhibitions with London’s leading art school students. We both came from a very academic background, I studied Art History and Gianina has a background in Liberal Arts, it was beyond exciting for us to be amongst a new generation who were exploring themes that were so much more relatable to us compared to what we studied before. Then Covid hit and the limits of the lockdown pushed us to come up with a new format to start working online. We wanted to come up with a different way to discover and learn about art online. We wanted people to experience something personal and intimate and not lose the aura of the usual gallery setting – where a gallerist talks about the story behind the artwork and about the artist – if that makes any sense. With this in mind, we started to sell works of art on our website and through pictures and storytelling, keeping the artists central. It’s kind of an exhibition but more storytelling and image based. There is a virtual gallery where people can see the exhibition and a separate article on each artist with pictures taken in the studio. To make it more persona our photographer Alina Zum Hebel visits the studios of the London based artists, and we include that in the article. And also, because it’s online, we were able to reach loads of people from all over the world who can see and learn what a new generation of artists is up to. Getting to know so many artists inspired us to pursue other avenues too. Listening careful to artists’ and collectors concerns about working online, we also came up with another way of selling art online. One thing we often heard was that artists don’t want too many of their artworks being offered for sale publicly on different small platforms and beginning art collectors don’t know how to navigate the online art market. So instead of overcrowding our website, we set up partnerships with over 200 artists worldwide to sell works from their studio. But we keep their shared information to ourselves. Working the other way around, we find the perfect artwork for each client. I can’t believe we launched our website a little of a year ago and how much has happened since then.  We’re working with so many great artists and creatives and have been able to reach a lot of people across the globe. 

Maribelle’s Tips & Tricks to success?

If you have an idea – anything at all – just start and see where it takes you. One idea merges into something more concrete and then adjust accordingly. To state the obvious, you can’t get somewhere without starting.  Don’t overthink every aspect of it, or doubt yourself, just do it and wing it. The funny thing is that by far most things play out differently than you plan it anyway. Just do it and figure things out as you go. We started with one idea which led to another and that continued to happen throughout our first year and probably will happen in the years to come. Also, read a lot of books (smart thinking, business books etc) on whatever you’re doing and collaborate with lots of like-minded people so you can grow together.

Cristina O’Hanlon of An Effort

Image of Cristina O’Halon

An Effort is an art residency in Central London that looks for and supports artists who seek to connect and engage with a community though their practice in a unique way. The residency was inspired by artists I have met and been inspired by! Artists have the unique ability to transcend language and culture to evoke something in the beneficiary. It may be learning, it could be emotion or even an altogether unintended reaction. An Effort benefits from an incredible and accessible location. I created the residency as a space for the artists to be inspired by these surroundings and, through talks and other events, to inspire!

Image of the An Effort art residency

Cristina O’Hanlon’s Tips & Tricks to success?

  1. No job is too small – be prepared to put time and energy into going beyond your usual skill set, especially in the early stages.
  2. Learn from and listen to as many people as you can. Sometimes the advice you’re looking for may not even be directed at your project but it could be the spark you needed to make something work.
  3. Have a clear vision for the long and short term – write these down and read them often! Even if your vision grows or changes it is helpful to bring yourself back to your true intention.

Co-Founders: Art collector, Theo Stylianou and Curator, Eleanor Stephenson of Just a Studio 

Image of art collector, Theo Stylianou and curator, Eleanor Stephenson

Just a Studio is a London-based pop-up art gallery, specialising in contemporary art and design. Founded in 2020 by the art collector, Theo Stylianou and curator, Eleanor Stephenson, Just a Studio aims to bring fresh art and ideas straight from the artist’s studio to collectors homes. By working closely with a select number of top artists and designers, the gallery offers a bespoke art advice service, commissions, and unique artworks. Having studied History of Art at The Courtauld, and having worked in the commercial art world for over five years, I became frustrated by the ill treatment of artists in the primary and secondary markets. Artistic experimentation and development is constantly compromised by the commercial viability of the art and the incentives of the dealers, gallerists, auction houses, and even, the collectors. That’s how my Co-Founder, and avid contemporary art collector, Theo Stylianou, and I, came up with Just a Studio. We wanted to remedy this issue, even if only the slightest bit, by opening a space for emerging artists to experiment with new mediums, sizes, formats and ideas. For our launch exhibition, UNSELLABLE, we asked artists to push their practice as far as possible – the results have been fantastic! 

Just a Studio invites The Art Gorgeous HOUSE members to a private tour of the ‘UNSELLABLE’ exhibition on Friday 1st October 6.00 – 8.00pm, 33 Great Windmill Street, W1D 7LR. The event and tour will be hosted and led by me ( Eleanor Stephenson) , followed by a short drink’s reception. Please RSVP via email : [email protected] or you can DM me via Instagram at -@ellystephenson

Image of photograph of Sola in her studio – a participating artist in the UNSELLABLE show

Eleanor Stephenson’s Tips & Tricks to success?

I am still learning, often on the job, which is perhaps my main tip – to be open and adaptable. The art market moves fast and plans change instantaneously: my trick is to accept and be flexible to change. Both Theo and I have super relaxed and honest relationships with the artists and clients we work with, which I believe is the key to our success thus far. 

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