Founder of MTArt Agency, and voted one of Forbes’ 30 under 30, Marine Tanguy shares more about her thoughts on the art world, audience engagement, and above all, artists.
“Economics are key to change. If 2/3 of galleries are not making money we need to find new structures, not lose the artists who can’t afford it. The structures don’t matter, they evolve; the artists matter the most.”
1. At a time where industries are aligning – Art x Tech, Art x Fashion, Women x Art – how would you describe the art market today? How do you think audiences are interacting with visual art?
Visuals surround us everywhere – in the homes we live in, the cities or towns we walk through, on social media, TV, adverts etc… All the more reason why artists should take over these spaces and inspire us daily, in our routine. We need to think bigger as an art industry and stop confining our artists to just a few spaces. They can inspire everyone, everywhere.
Key examples of this thinking for us include our artist Saype whose 5000 square meters with bio-degradable paint inspired people to rethink the refugee crisis in 2018 in Geneva or when the same artist took this message across 15 airports in Europe, supported by the brand Lavazza.
2. Acknowledging the MTArt Agency receives approximately 200 portfolios a month, and in line with your slogan “Invest In Artists”, how would you say your projects have evolved? Working alongside corporations, investors and the general public, how have artworks been received?
Investing in artists for us means building the credibility, visibility and revenue streams of our artists. We support their monthly studio costs, and activate networks, opportunities and projects for them to grow. Our artists are well received, which is easy to prove given their track records in museum shows, collectors’ sales and projects.
3. In the context of a project, or one of your artists, how would you define success?
Again, if the project raises the credibility of their name, their visibility and pay them well, then it’s a success! We like ambitious projects; our artists are ambitious.
4. The world is undoubtedly characterised by several buzzwords at the moment including “sustainability”, “innovation”, “accessibility” and “inclusion.” To complement these words, and rationalise them, the art world has also been drawn to data. Watching your TEDx talks and the survey results conducted by your team to measure the project’s impact, how does art play a role in city-living? Can you share some insights with us? (measurable examples of how your projects have impacted wellbeing, engagement, awareness?)
I feel these words are all well founded and they may feel ‘buzzy’ but they are all necessary in our times. We yearn for these core values. When leading public projects, we use two contingent and wellbeing valuation methods with our analyst Vishal Kumar – defining and measuring well-being. Very little empirical evidence and academic studies exist to determine whether or not public art is crucial to the life and demand of citizens, but we insist on developing it for our projects.
On average, 60% of our sample audience were willing to pay at least £5 for the implementation of more public art in their local area, with 84% willing to pay at least £2, and 84% of our sample said regular public art initiatives would increase their wellbeing.
We hope to add to existing academic research by demonstrating a core need from the audiences towards public art; particularly, a willingness to pay for public art projects to become an integral part of their city experience. It is important to understand the economic value of public art initiatives within the context of smart cities because it will allow policy makers, urban planners and developers to implement such initiatives in the future.
5. Currently in your 4th year of MTArt Agency, what is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
Definitely changing the framework in which people think of artists – they shouldn’t be well paid, apparently they are happy to do most things for free, they shouldn’t inspire many people (a popular artist may be doing some crap art) etc all things which affect artists and don’t empower them. Instead, with our artist Leo Caillard we showed that he was able to exhibit at Le Louvre Museum while inspiring people at Orly Airport. I want our artists to be as empowered as one can be, and I believe in empowering people to be successful, not controlling them to do less. Our artists are currently proving that success can be defined this way.
6. In your recent campaign titled “Visual Diet” with M&C Saatchi and Rankin, you target mental health and its relationship with the availability of imagery, selfies and social networks. Can you share a little bit more with us on this?
It all started with my second TEDx Talk. We are force-fed tens of thousands of images every day, many of which are hyper-retouched, sexually gratuitous and highly addictive. We want to make people aware that, just like you are what you eat, what you see affects your mental health. Through this campaign, we aim to promote a balanced visual diet to prevent our audience from binging on overly-processed, body and mind negative content. Art is a therapeutic medium so artists have a lot to do on this subject, that’s why we need to consume more of their content.
7. The aim of the agency is to support artists, grow their profile and maximise audience engagement with [their] art. Do you support these artists indefinitely? Is the agency also working alongside other industry players (galleries, art fairs, foundations, museums) to facilitate the artist’s career progression?
Our contracts are for three years which comprises a monthly financial support while my team works on their PR, developing projects and career strategy. We encourage our artists to work with others that we think can add value to their reputation.
8. Do you think art is for all, and to be understood by everyone?
Art is for all, and for art to resonate with most, it must be shaped by artistic talents from all backgrounds. While currently most people can’t afford to become artists or art professionals, this reduces the talent diversity of who gets to visually inspire everyone. Economics are key to change this. If 2/3 of galleries are not making money we need to find new structures, not lose the artists who can’t afford it. The structures don’t matter, they evolve; the artists matter the most.