You’ve probably noticed Vera Bertran on Instagram, she has quite a lot of followers. The founder of Contemporary Art Collectors is the queen of promoting and working with emerging artists. An art advisor and a digital curator, Vera’s platform focuses on contemporary art collecting, showcasing a multitude of arts and their talents to thousands of followers. She also examines potential future development within the contemporary art world, as well as the culture of contemporary art collecting. We spoke to her about collecting contemporary art, and her new projects Contemporary Art Collectors Art Book and Emerging Artist Programme.
When did you know you wanted to have a career in art?
With my parents being antique collectors, I was surrounded by art from a young age. I therefore enjoyed going to museums and studying art books, having been fortunate enough to have a considerable collection in our house. Over time I was drawn mostly towards contemporary art. However, in order to further my knowledge, I studied Art History in London, and after graduating I later went on to study Art Business. It was during university that I first began advising some of my parent’s friends, who were modern and antique art collectors, and were looking to start acquiring a collection of contemporary art.
Can you tell us about Contemporary Art Collectors, and how you started?
It all began with the creation of an Instagram page in 2017, which I started in order to share the art I liked. The amount of followers I gained grew so rapidly over such a short space of time that I decided to set up a website that would be specifically interview-focused due to my belief that it would be of genuine interest to potential buyers and avid art fans to read personal opinion pieces coming from the people directly involved in the art world rather than just generic articles. As a result of the website’s success, I have recently also decided to focus on discovering new artists and showcasing their works to the public.
You’ve just launched the Contemporary Art Collectors Art Book and Emerging Artist Project, can you tell us about these exciting new projects?
Every day we receive hundreds of emails and messages from artists across the globe who are seeking exposure for their work; a significant percentage of whom are upcoming and emerging. Consequently, we decided to launch the Contemporary Art Collectors Art Book and Emerging Artist Programme as a double venture aimed at discovering the most exciting talent from the world over and providing them with the exposure their work
What tips would you give to anyone looking to start collecting contemporary art?
A great place to start would be social media. Instagram, for example, is a great platform for discovering emerging artists and somewhere you can also buy a lot of art in general. Another way to discover new talent is by following contemporary galleries either by attending their events in person, or by accessing their online viewing rooms. Furthermore, you can also subscribe to galleries’ newsletters, buy art books, and generally brush up on your knowledge of different art styles, mediums and techniques. Immersing yourself fully in the art world and doing your research is essential in defining and determining your tastes, in order to know what stimulates and inspires you personally. You also need to consider your budget; if it is limited, then I would suggest you look more towards emerging artists, by going to graduate shows, meeting the artists face to face, and speaking to them about their work – that way you always have a chance of unearthing the new Basquiat. If you think about buying art as an investment, it’s important to understand that there are never any guarantees in regards to getting a return on your money. If art investment is your primary goal, I would suggest looking at mid-career or established artists, which ordinarily means having a bigger budget. My advice to anyone delving into art collection for the first time is to buy something you genuinely love and can enjoy in your house everyday.
And what about emerging artists trying to get their name heard in the art world?
Art galleries and art dealers are always on the lookout for new up-coming artists with a unique style and strong message. My most important recommendation for anyone considering entering the art market is to be honest with themselves and ask the following questions: is my work different from other artists? Am I doing something new? Something with a concept? Or is it simply a diluted repetition of what has been created before? I would also recommend maintaining an active presence on social media, by keeping it regularly updated with any new works, works in progress, your process of creativity., etc. In the modern age, one way for artists to get discovered is to take matters into their own hands and engage in some self-promotion, thereby enabling more people to see their work. With online art sales increasing exponentially nowadays, it’s essential to give the best representation of yourself on your website and social media accounts. I would therefore advise that you think of your social media account and website as if it were your personal business card – it’s the first impression the general public will have of your works.
Which artists should we have on our radars right now?
There are a lot of amazing artists out there, such as: Cinga Samson, Genieve Figgis, Claire Tabouret, Donna Huanca, Hernan Bas.
How have you managed to cope with all the madness that has happened in the world – and the art world – in 2020?
Having been used to regularly travelling to art fairs and exhibitions, it was a bit of a struggle to adapt at the beginning. However, with the art world having a more significant and far-reaching online presence, it has made the situation slightly easier and is proving more essential than ever before. During the pandemic, we have seen a heightened interest in art, evident from the fact that galleries and museums have been experiencing record web traffic. Many galleries have adapted to the situation by launching online viewing rooms and exhibitions, and various art fairs including Art Basel Hong Kong, Frieze NY have gone virtual after being forced to cancel their in-person shows.
What are your plans and hopes for the future?
I hope we can return to normality and normal life very soon. Most of all, I am looking forward to visiting art and cultural events around the world again, without there being any restrictions and cancellations. Currently, my plans are focused on a new programme for artists, including print publication.The book will feature high quality reproductions of each selected artist’s work, quotes from the artists about contemporary art and their art practices and processes. The Contemporary Art Collectors Art Book will be published at the end of 2021. I am also planning to visit Nepal Art House to develop a variety of new charitable projects for the kids there. I have also been invited by some galleries to be a guest curator, which coincides with my goal of curating my own show or even organising my own art event.