In a conversation with Jonie Oostveen, the founder of ARTO Gallery, Art World Forum finds out a bit more about this new online art platform.
In a few words how would you describe ARTO, who is it for and why is it beneficial?
ARTO is a new art start up that wants to give the global and regional art scene, a healthy shake up with our art recommendation engine which is build into our mobile app. Our app will help people easily discover art by recommending artworks based on their preferences and taste. Users can indicate whether or not they like an artwork by swiping left or right. The more they swipe, the better the ARTO app understands what they like and thus, the better the recommendation. The app is for both the art experts as well as for art starters. At the same time, we also target artists as we provide a platform to promote, distribute and sell their artworks on a global scale.
What inspired you to start ARTO? How did the idea come about, what was the drive behind it and why was it launched in Singapore?
I came up with the idea when I wanted to buy an art piece myself. While browsing on an art site, I found it difficult to describe what type of artwork I like and what I was looking for. I then realised that this experience should be much more like the experience Spotify gives its users – they recommend music to their users instead of the user having to search for it. I thought about it for a long time and in the later part of 2015 I decided to take the plunge and do it. I raised a bit of money from Angels, hired developers and off we went. The app is actually available worldwide, but as I live in Singapore I decided to use this as my stepping stone. Singapore is an international hub with a vibrant tech and art scene.
How do you think ARTO can fit in and contribute to the development of the art scene in Singapore.
With our art recommendation engine, ARTO matches supply and demand. We help artists to showcase their artworks to the consumers who like the type of art they make. Also, we want to help the consumer to develop their art taste and give further information about the artwork, the artist, which other artworks are possibly similar, and encourage people to share their findings with friends on social media. Not only do we provide artworks from independent artists and galleries but also from museums such as the Singapore Art Museum, the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam) and the National Gallery of Art (Washington DC).
Where do you find the artwork that is featured on your app? Do you expect the number of featured artworks to expand by genre and geography?
As a start we reached out to some large online and offline art galleries, as said we also have partnerships with museums. We have now opened the platform for independent artists as well. Our database is growing every day. We now have 15,000 high resolution images of artworks in our database. By the end of the year we expect to have an estimated 50,000 artworks from artists and galleries worldwide.
Is there a specific reason as to why you chose to develop ARTO into an app as opposed to any other type of online platform?
Yes, we specifically chose to go for a mobile app as we have designed it to be a little bit like instagram. We think that people will frequently use the app during the idle moments of the day where they have 5 minutes to spare. Discovering art on the ARTO mobile app is completely different from going onto your laptop and browsing through websites of online galleries.
Does ARTO have any special features that make it stand out more so than others?
Yes absolutely! The first one I already stated, which is the art recommendation engine. However, as we focus on mobile experience, it can be difficult to get a good view of the artwork on a small screen. So we built in a feature that allows a user to stream the image from his mobile phone onto a TV screen, and watch an enlarged display of the artwork in detail. At the moment this feature only works on Airplay and an Apple TV but we will be supporting other devices soon like Google’s Chromecast and Samsung Smart TVs
Where do you see ARTO in the next five years?
I have a very clear picture of the next 6-8 months, which is building out the product with some innovative features and adding users. We are working on some major partnerships which we hope to announce soon. Recently, we also started discussions with investors for a new investment round. Five years from now I expect we will have established ourselves as the marketplace where you can easily discover and buy new artworks. As for artists and galleries, we want to become the marketplace to sell and promote their works. But five years is very far away, who knows we will see!
To visit ARTO please visit: www.arto.gallery
To download the ARTO mobile app please click here.