Artfetch was founded in 2012 by Katie Tsouros and her mother Patricia. Tsouros had a contemporary art gallery for emerging artists based in Dublin and wanted to do something that had the potential to have a global impact. She also identified a need for an alternative to the traditional gallery system that has dominated the art world until now.
“We wanted to offer greater accessibility to customers around the world & and a platform for emerging artists who have limited opportunities as it currently stands. The art industry is a slow one to adapt to change and hasn't seen much disruption in the last at least 20 or so years and we felt it was really time to bring about something fresh and new.”
According to Tsouros, “Good art is hard to find, and we do the hard work for you. Trawling degree shows, galleries, artist run spaces & studios to find the very best emerging talent & bringing it directly to the customer, making it completely accessible. We offer the knowledge & expertise of a gallery, no matter where you are based, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Buying art has never been so easy!”
This is a competitive space with some major international competitors such as well funded startups Artspace, Paddle8 & Artsy, along with Saatchi Art in the UK.
Tsouros maintains that the Artfetch focus is on a highly curated selection of emerging artists that offers an alternative voice & fresh, somewhat rebellious take on the art world and as a result are a slightly different proposition to other companies in this space.
Tsouros has faced some big challenges to date, a steep learning curve about the tech industry without a technical background.
“However it has been a really fun and interesting learning, building a tech company, it's so different to the art world, there's no much energy and I've really enjoyed being able to combine the two.
A huge victory for Tsouros was launching the Artfetch website and having the first sale within the first hour, which for her and her team was a huge validation of all the hard work.
What is the most important lesson learned from this experience?
“Trusting my instinct when it comes to making decisions and not bowing to pressure. The biggest mistakes I made were those born out of a sense of urgency about what we "should" do as opposed to what was best for our business & brand at that particular moment - I think that's a danger with startup culture. It's hard to flush out all the noise, hype, advice & opinions at times and distill it down to what is applicable for you.
Advice for other starters?
I heard this (from someone great!) on the day that we launched and it has stayed with me.
The only thing to keep sight of is the bit of progress that you make every single day and where you want to be in 5 years time, nothing in between matters.
And my two cents - Carve your own path, naivety is essential!