Introducing Samir Ceric and the Art Coach
With our inaugural Italian edition, ‘Artists Take the Lead’, just around the corner, Art World Forum reaches out to our keynote speaker – entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist, Samir Ceric, Co-Founder of the Art Coach.
Tell me a little bit about the Art Coach. What is it?
In a nutshell, the Art Coach is designed to empower artists with the tool-kit and the knowledge base how to turn their passion into a long term career and guide them on their own road to success. Success can never be measured by how many paintings you sell and how much you sell them for (that is just an added bonus and the financial independence and freedom are also a vital part of becoming successful); it can be measured by one becoming critically acclaimed in the industry and being appreciated by both your peers as well as those who get to enjoy your work, both by purchasing it as well as seeing it in various exhibitions as well as online.
The Art Coach aims to become the artist’s best friend, mentor, professional coach, guiding each artist it meets, online and offline, in the process and helping them develop more, learn more, discover more, decode more, figure out more, and in that way demystifying the art industry, opening it up to a much wider audience. Artists who are serious about their career and their profession sooner or later become true connoisseurs of this industry and as such they also have responsibility to also educate the next generation of artists as well as engage with their patrons and supporters and excite them even more about the importance of art in one’s life, be it at home or at work. Success comes with a great deal of responsibility and we at the Art Coach want to be a part of many successful stories now and in the future.
How did the idea of the Art Coach come about? What inspired it?
I have spent more than a decade understanding the art industry and looking at different ways on how to improve it and somewhat change it for the benefit of its most important players, artists, as well as those looking to enter the art market, collectors / buyers.. In my TED talk I did a few years ago with the London Business School here in London at the National Geographic Society in front of a 600-strong audience, I predicted as well as wished to see inside the next 50 years that every household in the UK owns and displays an original piece of art. Many think that art is so pricey however you can pick up an amazing painting for £50-£100 if you know where to go and find out where your local artists hang out and attend one of their open studio days. Having co-founded an award winning business in the fashion and design industry Wolf & Badger in 2009, which became a global success technically overnight, I took the similar model and launched the world’s first art incubator and accelerator, Debut Contemporary, with the vision of teaching artists the business know-how as well as explaining to them how the industry operates and why it is important they learn all about it … Hence after 7 years of running Debut Contemporary, and hundreds of artists who’d gone through the system of incubation and acceleration, I felt the time was right to now introduce the Art Coach concept to a much wider audience and an international audience too so more artists and art lovers can benefit from and more lives can be changed. Debut contemporary changed people’s lives and that to me is a priceless result and achievement.. Some of the testimonials we have received over the years are very touching and incredibly meaningful and that made all the hard work and sacrifice over the past decade well worth every strife and every challenge we had to face in the process.
How is it introducing new methods or attitudes to the industry, and why is this important?
It is never easy to pioneer things and try and become the industry’s latest or newest visionary as generally speaking people don’t like a change. Most prefer status quo than a positive change even though that change is likely to be in their favour. However that is surely never going to stop us and me and we relished the challenge and the opportunity at the same time. When you are passionate about what you do, combined with the knowledge you’d acquired over the years (I spent the first 10 years in doing M&A deals and running businesses in telecoms, insurance, airline, finance sectors), then even that challenge becomes nothing but the right of passage. When the intentions are right, when the vision is complimented by a mission, you no longer see it in the same way as the next person. Every day you get up and get closer to making a difference and today unless you are running a business that is making a difference in other peoples’ lives, don’t bother doing it.
Over the years I have taught artists the importance of charity and philanthropy and why they can do a lot more today than they think. We structured various artist led initiatives for both the charity world and the corporate world, we innovated in so many ways and that’s why we always remained ahead of the game. But we threw in 10s of thousands of hours into that development and dedicated decades of hard work to get to where we are today; and still today we are not where we will be tomorrow but we are far ahead of where we were yesterday. And that is what excites me; the thrill of the next step and the next success story that emerges out of our nest and our nurturing and caring infrastructure.
What is the long-term plan?
I would love to see The Art Coach concept an integral part of the educational system. I feel the art schools and university with art degrees would massively benefit from the knowledge base we’d created over the years and happily shared with many others. Art schools and university will always have a place in the art world however there are very limited opportunities for artists to also learn the business side of the art market and art career in order to increase their chances of success and longevity in this world (doing an MBA at a business school would be both daunting for most artists as well as cost prohibitive as it can cost up to £100,000 per MBA course; alternatively Sotheby’s Art Business MA at £30,000 is not a much better option either as many of these graduates came to us with very mediocre practical knowledge acquired during their degree course). We would love to fill in that gap and work collaboratively with all of them as we don’t see ourselves as anybody’s competitor but everybody’s collaborator. Today art students spend thousands of pounds a year on their degree programs. In my view they should be spending £100 or £200 a year at least (possibly up to £1000) on their professional development and career empowerment. We are currently in talks with a couple of ed tech businesses about the creation and launch of the world first School of Entrepreneurial Art and I am super excited about it all.
What has been the greatest challenge that you have faced so far?
Doing what I do, and consciously entering one of the oldest and slowest changing industries in the world with the aim of radically changing the fabrics of that industry carry so many challenges… Looking to introduce data analysis behind the correct valuation of a blue chip piece of art, or launching an artist management company based on the sports management and music record labels; wanting to coach artist as all professional athletes, swimmers and cyclists are coached and building an important infrastructure around them all are super challenging tasks and you come across all sorts of sceptics, cynics and those who want you to fail and don’t believe you will ever succeed. The great thing about these people is the fact that they unknowingly become a part of the winning formula as nobody successful today encounter no opposition to their ideas and aims; nobody succeeded without a fight and as long as you believe in what you do, sooner or later, your persistence and perseverance will prevail. I want to see The Art Coach concept delivering results and knowledge all over the world, translated in all major languages and last but not least, I aim to launch the world’s first MBA in Fine Art and/or Art Business. There is no reason why we can’t do it. I know somebody who launched the world’s one and one MBA in Football. Why couldn’t we do it for Fine Art and/or Art Business.