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Meet ChART

Meet ChART - a podcast formed by four good friends who met during their Masters degree in Contemporary Art in London. Every week, this group makes interesting and casual conversations about art and current topics that surround it. We asked them about the hot topic of Crypto Art, how can one start collecting art, and more!

Who are the hosts of chART? Finn, Mara, Javier and Kristy! We started off as course friends as we were in the same seminar group at Sotheby’s Institute of Art. We all came from different backgrounds and all have a different angle of interest in Contemporary Art. Finn is a practicing photographer/ artist from Belgium who has an MA in Art Photography; Kristy is a Hong Kong-born practicing artist who just graduated from art school in London; Mara is an assistant curator from London who also has a degree in Art History from UCL, and Javier is from Spain, a published author who has just finished his studies in the Netherlands. We believe the diversity in the group really contributes to the unique dynamic we have, which is present in all our episodes at chART.

How the idea of chART came about? We always had the idea of making art more accessible to people, that you don’t need to be brought up around museums and galleries, or have an art-related degree, that art is for everyone to investigate and enjoy. When COVID has first hit Europe, all classes were forced to move online in the first lockdown. The situation offered the right amount of frustration and boredom to get creative, so Finn approached Javier, Mara and Kristy about starting a project around this shared idea that was often discussed during our conversations in our local pub. After a few zoom meetings, chART was born, where we aim to uncomplicate art, one topic at a time.

In one of your episodes titled ‘An introduction to Crypto Art’ you talk about buying, selling and collecting digital artworks through blockchain networks. Do you think Crypto Art will replace or broaden the traditional art market? We all think it will broaden the traditional art market, it’s an existing medium that hasn’t really been recognised or validated until the Beeple auction with Christie’s. It’s unfortunate that digital art needed to prove its monetary value in order to be taken seriously, but it’s really encouraging for artists interested in digital art forms, especially in times of COVID where lots of exhibitions have finally gone online and global. We definitely see galleries using blockchain and NFTs to secure and validate art work’s authenticity and provenance. All chART members also have different opinions on it. Kristy, who hosted that episode, is really excited about crypto art. She doesn’t think it’s a new art form as digital works have existed for a long time, like video art which emerged since the 60s, and crypto art is like an extension of that, but more democratic and accessible, with the aim to decentralise the art market or elitism in the art world. The crypto art market removes middlemen of the traditional art market, allowing direct sales between collectors and artists. However, she is a bit weary of new or existing platforms finding their ways to privatise, or centralise the market once again. Crypto art resell platforms are already charging around £100 or more just to list a work, and takes 10% commission, another 10% goes to the artist. Not to mention institutional gatekeepers of the art world which largely influences the art market. In the end, it is still important to be able to distinguish what works are worthy to be investigated critically, and there is the danger of a decentralised taste in art where they only show works that the public will like aesthetically, and so on, but that’s a whole other conversation that needs to be had. Finn also thinks crypto art won’t replace traditional art market or existing production of art. The Arts remain a produce of human interactions, and therefore the physical, traditional art market will always remain present, but will soon further utilise the technological innovations of the time, which, as of right now, is the expansion of crypto art market. Javier feels the debate of “traditional versus new” is lost before it even started. He sees crypto art as a game changer, either a revolution or the start of one. He doesn’t see it replacing the traditional art market overnight, just like how computers and mobile phones were once seen impossible to be introduced into common use. For now, Javier feels that crypto art will broaden the art market, open new possibilities and present itself as a new medium for both artists and audiences. However, he feels that in the future, maybe ten or twenty years from now, it will be very, very close to replacing all that we now call “traditional” in the art world. All in all, crypto art is still at its very early stage and chART is trying to be on top of news and development on crypto art, a lot more research and understanding is still needed for us to form a well-informed answer to that!

How do you think the pandemic will shape the art world in the long run? Will everything go back ‘normal’? We think we have reached a point in the pandemic where there’s no “normal” to return to. The pandemic has also pushed artists, galleries, auction houses and museums to rethink their approach towards art and what place they’d like to inhabit in the post-coved society. We’ve seen virtual galleries and digital art flourish. Perhaps once the pandemic is nothing but a memory, the art world will try really hard to return to its original format where we flood to art fairs, biennials and exhibitions. However, the pragmatic advantages of a democratic online space for art are undeniable. We also don’t see why would we want to go back to normal as there’s so much change and growth that needs to happen within and outside of the art world.

Any advice to people who have just started collecting art? To people who have just started or want to start collectng art: start small! Listen to your gut instead of what people tell you! You should start collecting art because you want to, that you have a strong connection with the artwork you want to acquire. They don’t have to cost a fortune. Start with emerging artists that you adore! No art should be primarily seen as an investment, it shouldn’t be treated like stock exchange from the get-go. However, if your main goal to collect art is for its investment merits, Javier strongly recommends crypto art. It’s space-saving, and will probably have a good return if you pay attention to artists’ tweets and the cryptocurrency market. Finn’s collection started with likle graphic design prints and have now grown into photographic prints and photo-books throughout the years. When he look at his collection to date, he loves how it reflect who he is, then and now. Kristy’s recently discovered a platform that allows art to be paid in instalments. Artist Support Pledge has been such a great platform for collectors and artists, where you can buy art from incredible artists for less than 200 euros. Reach out to artists, lots of them are often excited to get back to you. There’s lots of platforms that promotes emerging artists, start there and your taste in collecting will follow. Kristy’s collection started with art swaps. She started with friends she knew from art school and branched out to artists that she discovers on Instagram. She doesn’t always get a reply, or often gets rejected, but there’s nothing to lose!

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