In the present day fixation with social media and digital communication, the nature of art appreciation has changed. Pick up your iPhone and log onto Instagram and one will easily find a vast world of art rife for exploration. It’s the same online—galleries, auction houses and dealers are increasingly tapping into the digital world in order to reach global collectors and art aficionados. The Hiscox Online art trade report 2017 has confirmed such statements. “The online art market has continued to grow strongly against the backdrop of a slowly-increasing global art market,” it wrote. Dubai-based art collector, former investment banker and entrepreneur Shohidul Ahad Choudhury founded ArteVue utilising such mobile social technology to instantly connect artists, collectors, curators and general art lovers 24 hours a day and free of charge. “Galleries, museums and collectors need to embrace technology because art is about a getting a message out,” adds Choudhury, who has recently joined the South Asian Acquisition Committee for the Tate Modern. “The more people that see art online the better. It is about democratising art.”
Choudhury, who previously worked as an investment banker for companies such as Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs, decided three years ago to go off and do “his own thing.” Over the last few years he’s developed a passion for contemporary art. His collection features works by names such as Rana Begum, Sudarshan Shetty, Ayesha Sultana, Damien Hirst, Ai Weiwei, Monir Farmanfarmaian and Patrick Hughes, among many others. Two years ago Choudhury participated in a panel talk about art collecting at the India Art Fair in New Delhi. Someone in the audience asked if there was an app that helped you collect, he remembers. When Choudhury finally researched such a tool, he couldn’t find anything that combined collecting, social media, education in terms of art news, and general enjoyment. “There was no one product that gave what I thought was a full view of the art world,” he says. Locating what he felt was a gap in the art market, Choudhury then devised a plan for the creation of an app that would serve as a platform uniting art collectors, professionals, curators and artists. It would provide tools, not just information, that could be used on a daily basis.
Screenshot of ArteVue
“I love going to art fairs and galleries but time is always an issue,” he says. “You want to be given all of this to you on your phone or your computer in order to make everything more convenient. Art is all about interaction – enjoyment and fulfillment in a sensory way so it can’t just be online. People will still want to go to galleries and galleries will still need to cultivate artists. Magazines will still need to write about artists and interview them. Collectors will still want to see what they are buying. However, all what we are doing online and through the app is just making that audience bigger – expanding the reach of the artist and getting their message out to more people.” As Choudhury further states, if you get your artwork out to as many people as possible there’s has to be someone who will like that artwork. “You need to go mass audience – as global as possible and that’s where social media and advertising comes in,” he adds. “It’s a numbers game at the end of the day.”
The launch of ArteVue comes at a time when the global online art sales are up despite a slowing global market for art. An article published in the FT in April 2017 reported that online-sales now represent 8.4 per cent of nearly $50bn of the global art market – up from 7.4 per cent in 2015. Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2017 stated that online art market sales reached an estimated $3.75bn in 2016, up 15 per cent from 2015. This gives the online art market an 8.4 per cent share of the overall art market, up from 7.4 per cent in 2015. Hiscox further stated how social media is becoming an increasingly important tool for galleries and dealers. Out of the galleries the site surveyed, 91 per cent said they actively use social media to promote their gallery and their art and artists. While Facebook and Twitter were the two dominant channels in 2016, Instagram is now the social media channel of choice, with 57 per cent of galleries saying they find Instagram the most effective in terms of raising awareness, compared to 42 per cent who stated Facebook. And when it comes to generating direct sales or direct sales leads, Instagram again is the winner, with 35 per cent of the galleries stating that the platform is driving direct sales, compared to only 7 per cent of respondent who mentioned Facebook.
An app with a sleek design and top-notch technology, ArteVue is a portal into another world. How does it work? Easy to use, the app offers a variety of functions to different types of users. Through ArteVue users are able to discover new talent, sell artwork by uploading it onto the app, create PDFs of artworks to send to clients, catalogue one’s art collection, pin and curate artworks to make a virtual collection and create their own virtual art gallery. Moreover, a daily international news feed is provided from Harper’s Bazaar Art detailing major art world events throughout the world 24 hours a day seven days a week. One of ArteVue’s features is its ability to foster younger artists. This is a place where emerging artists can go to connect with a network of collectors and art professional as well as liaise with other artist. The idea of the app is to make art more shareable and reachable than ever before.
Screenshot of ArteVue
While traditionally, Choudhury states, artists went through galleries and art dealers to build their career and gain recognition, today artists are increasingly creating Instagram, Facebook and online sites in order to get exposure. “Then they get noticed by galleries when they start ‘trending,’” he adds. In line with this is the importance ArteVue has placed in terms of developing the emerging art collector and the emerging artist. “When it comes to online artwork and buying artwork and transacting, normally that price range is between $2-15,000, anything above that you want to go to the gallery and look at it. And that’s typically the price range for an emerging artist. That’s the market that needs a platform to grow. The emerging artist wants to get noticed. The young collector needs information. He’s just started to collect and is trying to understand the market.” The app caters to this audience.
ArteVue is also about the notion of escapism. At whatever time of the day, users can open the app and escape into another world viewing photographs of Brazil to paintings by an artist in London, intriguing mixed media works as well as read art news that connects them to Hong Kong and Kraków. “It takes you out of the doldrums of daily life,” says Choudhury. “And there should be escapism for everyone. It’s not about just me going off to Frieze to look at great artwork – but bringing the artwork there to a wider audience.” Unlimited art to an unlimited audience, that’s the scope of ArteVue and it’s off to an exciting start.