Fetching idea for emerging artists
START-UP NATION: ArtFetch:A gap in the market to showcase emerging artists led Dubliner Katie Tsouros to set up her own gallery space in 2010.
Now, two years later, the 27-year-old is embarking on a new venture, ArtFetch, a site which curates and sells emerging contemporary art online.
“Young artists who are still in college, or who have recently graduated, don’t have much opportunity to showcase their work. Galleries prefer to exhibit more established and well-known artists,” says Tsouros.
“We are bringing the art stars of the future to a broader audience, a wider community. The ArtFetch site will expose them to art buyers, collectors, gallery owners worldwide, which is a huge thing if you are just out of art college. Art online hasn’t been exploited to its full potential yet.”
The website profiles the artists and their work. Exhibitions will also be a feature of the site, showcasing the work of various artists around the world.
“If we sell the artist’s painting, we will take a cut and the artist gets the rest. Galleries usually take up to 50 per cent of the price the painting sells for. We will take less.”
The e-commerce platform will also act as an agent for emerging contemporary artists, according to Tsouros, who divides her time between offices in Dublin and London.
“It’s important for us to have a base in London as it is the epicentre of the art world. We might move the business there permanently in the future but we’d rather build up a global business out of Dublin.”
Tsouros founded the site along with her mother, Patricia, an art collector and board member of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and Lesley Tully, who previously worked as project manager for Dublin Contemporary.
The trio initially wanted to build a platform for art galleries online, but ultimately decided to create a platform to represent artists online.
“We decided we wanted to work with the artists directly and cut out the galleries entirely. We could give artists better margins that way.”
Tsouros nearly didn’t go into the art world. She had initially wanted to study business and economics, but a trip to the Venice Biennale led to her changing her CAO choices.
She went on to study art history in UCD, before doing an MA in Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s in London.
She held positions at the Rubicon Gallery and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin and Sadie Coles HQ and Artwise Curators in London before going on to establish her own gallery space KTcontemporary in 2010, at the age of 25.
This was initially meant to be a pop-up gallery, with a plan to open only for six months .
“The downturn had hit, so I was able to get space for reduced rent. I dedicated the space to exhibiting work by up-and-coming graduate artists, intending to operate for six months.
“It ended up staying open for two years. We only closed it as the building was being redeveloped so we had to move out. It was perfect timing though, as ArtFetch was beginning.”
Tsouros curated 12 exhibitions at the space, working with more than 30 Irish and international artists, as well as producing exhibitions for Microsoft Ireland, Kinsale Arts Week, PhotoIreland Festival and the Dublin Contemporary Circle Programme.
Tsouros says ArtFetch would like to establish a bursary in the future, to support emerging artists.
“We will also most likely expand our site to represent mid-career and established artists. Right now though, we have a database of 800 top art colleges from around the world, so we have a huge pool of people to select art works from.”