Get to know… “Start your art”

The market for start ups in Germany and the rest of the world is booming – more and more people take the step into freelance because they want to share their innovative ideas with others.

With our new series “Get to know…” we want to introduce you to some of these interesting projects – and want to know, what kind of art they have put on their office walls. We start with Jenny Seul, who founded “Start your art” at the end of 2010, an auction portal for young artists.

What exactly is “Start your art”?
start your art is the first german online platform where solely young and fresh art is sold by auction. The name “start your art” does depict our “mission”: We want to help artists, who aren’t established yet, as well as art lovers and potential buyers to find their place in the art market easily. A range of artists are given the opportunity to present up to ten artworks for a certain time (usually between two and four months). The individual starting price is defined by the artist themselves. Who is interested in buying art can place a bid, minimum the starting price. Thus the auction is started. Other people interested can join the auction during the next seven days. If a work is sold, the artist can refill his contingent.

How did you come up with the idea of founding an auction portal for young artists?
I had the idea due to different experiences and observations I made while working in the art trade: Again and again I got applications and requests by artist who wanted to sell their work via an auction. But auctions are – according to the industrial code – only open for the sale of used goods, thus even talented artist do not get the chance to offer their work “fresh” from the studio.
Another observation I made was that friends told me they were looking for original work of young artists: Usually they started browsing around the web to get information or in order to buy art. But what was offered online didn’t match with their needs. Either the edition was too large or the prices incomprehensible. Especially a layperson often does not understand how prices of artworks are put together. In my opinion it makes sense to create an auction system for artists that cannot be compared with other artists yet. And because – again according to the industrial code – an online auction is not an auction in the proper sense, we are using this way.

What kind of feedback have you had so far, from artists as well as from customers?
Well, we have been online since 18th November 2010, so we cannot talk about steady customers yet. We’re still at the beginning. However, there are already customers who have bought their second or third artwork already. That’s a good sign, isn’t it? The cooperation with the artists is satisfying as well – we work together very closely and get a lot of advice and suggestions. That’s fun!

Do you see yourself as a competitor to a classic gallery?
No. We are rather a complement. And there are artists that sell their work in galleries as well as on our platform. You can buy shoes of a producer in a shop or online – both is justified and both has its advantages and disadvantages.

What are the advantages of “Start your art” compared to a real gallery?
I will return to the comparision with buying shoes. Both is working here as well. And many customers use both ways likewise: according to time, mood and need. An advantage of online shopping surely is the quiet when browsing around and the useful possibilities of comparing. And of course an auction always involves this special factor of excitement and fun!


What kind of criteria do you use when chosing artists?
I receive applications almost every day. We then take a look at the portfolios as well as the CVs. It is less important if and where you have studied than that your work is convincing.
Other artists we find on travels throughout Germany. Of course all decisions are always subjective. But often artists told me that they agreed in taking part at start your art because they liked the selection we have made so far. Like in a gallery artists do care about what kind of artwork their artwork is presented next to.

How is the platform funded?
By provision. Like classic auction houses we split it between artist and buyer. Because both sides benefit from our service – like organisation and warranty of payment and shipping, but of all marketing activities as well.

What plans do your have for the future of „start your art“?
Well, quite a lot! For one thing we have a quite a few ideas how to present art even better on your computer screen. For another we would love to organise a live event. And there are more and more galleries and other online platforms interested in a cooperation or collaboration. Maybe there are even more possibilities we haven’t thought of yet…

What kind of strategies do you have to promote your portal in public?
We’re active in different ways here, offline and online. Public relations is a big topic. We try to optimise the page for search engines, placed ads and handed out brochures. And we’re active in social media as well…

What is your favourite artwork on your platform?
That’s difficult… There are so many! All artworks are handpicked, you know. Thus I could imagine all of them in my personal collection… The paintings of Masakazu Kondo are quite impressive, though: Take a closer look. They are 1,40 metres high and drawn entirely with ball pens. They are awesome!
I am fascinated by the paintings of Yih-Han Wu over and over. How she uses the styles and techniques of the Renaissance for her contemporary portraits – great! Shall I go on? I could list all artists now and tell you why I am fascinated by them…

Which artwork is hanging on your office wall?
Left to my desk the number 1 of the series „Burning Lollypop“-by Jennifer Rumbach (see above) enlightens my day. Right to my desk I am accompanied by an etching of Damien Hirst with the title “I saw the half of the Moon“.

Thank you!