Véra Kempf, Co-Founder of Singulart and one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Retail and Commerce 2019, shares her insights with us. Defining Singulart as a platform which provides artists with the necessary tools to independently manage the sale of their artworks to a global audience, Véra shares her insights.
1. As a digital platform selling emerging art which launched in 2017, with an inventory of about 50,000 works, how would you describe your experience so far? How have collectors reacted to your platform?
It’s an exciting journey to be bringing artists and collectors closer everyday. When we started the company, we had one main impression: that artists who are already successful in their country of residence have a hard time making it to the international level. At the same time, we figured that collectors are always looking for something fresh and seeking to discover new talents, excited to learn about painters in Spain for example, without necessarily having to travel there.
I’m super happy that this proved to be true. Today most of our sales are cross-border. We help artists from any given country sell their work to collectors who live very far away. Collectors from 50 different countries are already happily finding their next favourite piece of art on Singulart, and they give us great feedback. They particularly like the vast-yet-curated catalogue of art, and enjoy communicating with our team of art advisors – asking for reassurance, advice etc.
2. With an abundance of digital platforms promoting artists, artworks and new media, how does Singulart differentiate itself?
I would first cite our international scope as our major differentiating factor. We represent a community of 2300 artists from 85 nationalities, our website exists in 6 languages, our team is composed of 8 nationalities and we are selling art to collectors from all over the world.
Then, our very personal service has proved to be a major asset. We make sure that buying a work of art is a pleasant experience. We try to build a special bond with our collectors, and invest in customer service experts to ensure the smooth running of every operation.
Finally, we are a tech company. We make data-based decisions for improvements and changes to the website, and monitor our algorithms to make sure we can present personalized selections to our collectors: no one sees the same artworks twice when they browse Singulart.
3. With your growing demand and clientele in Hong Kong, and working alongside partner industries such as property developers, how are you reaching new audiences and securing sales?
Last year, we launched a Chinese version of our website as we identified a growing demand from the Asian market. It’s important for us to introduce our artists to international collectors. Our European artists were super excited by this launch, as we are indeed to the first European platform to invest in a Chinese website. Consequently, we started to develop web marketing on Baidu and other Chinese tools to attract Chinese collectors on Singulart. We are also able to attract collectors in other Asian countries through our usual web marketing.
The Asian market is very fond of European contemporary art, and with our large portfolio of 50,000+ pieces, we are able to find the perfect one for all types of collectors. In terms of sale conditions, we are consistent with those already in place in other markets: offering free shipping, free customs and free returns, which I guess is quite appealing for Asian collectors. It makes buying art online more secure.
The next step for us is to tackle offline channels, such as art fairs, in order to start building a brand in the Asian market. Meeting collectors and forging strong relationships with them is key, especially with our B2B customers, who are used to visiting galleries and seeing art in person. We will be exhibiting at Affordable Art Fair Hong-Kong from the 17th to the 19th of May.
4. How would you describe the global art scene? What do you think are the greatest challenges facing new platforms like yours?
I’d say the global art scene is not actually very global. We need to provide more visibility for artists from various countries – for example those who are living in African countries and don’t have as much access to the physical, traditional, West-centric market.
The traditional art scene is also very reluctant regarding online sales, so we need to reassure people that buying online is not bringing down the value of art. It’s just another channel for finding a great piece. Being online for an artist is a must, and we also need to convince them that it has the potential to take them so much further.
More generally, I believe the art scene will benefit from a lot of tech improvements. We are working on algorithms and tools to make the experience easy for every collector and artist. Of course it’s not the same as seeing the artwork in real life, but buying online can still be a very pleasant experience. You can really fall in love with a piece.
There is going to be a thriving collection of online art players in the coming years; we hope to be the biggest one
5. Acknowledging the effects of digitalisation and the need for data to enhance the art experience, how do you think the art scene will develop? Do you think we need more content in this field?
Many platforms were built by people who are not techies. I do believe that by analysing data, we have a powerful tool to make highly personalized selections and promote artists on the rise very efficiently.
I’m convinced that the secondary art market will benefit from digital technologies such as the blockchain, to track and confidently authenticate older works. It will bring more reassurance to the market, which is definitely a good thing.
I hope data will also help artists set their prices more accurately. Many artists struggle with defining their prices, so we are working on that as well.
IA will also help us predict the next trends and identify upcoming artists.