If you’re like any of us here at Art Zealous, going to see a gallery show or art fair is an event that occurs regularly. But how often do you actually purchase a piece from a Chelsea gallery? For the majority of us millennials, the answer is probably never—the sticker shock alone is enough to make you regret looking at the price tag, let alone trying to figure out a way to finance the purchase.
However, one website is on a mission to help the rising generation of art buyers start their collections. Remember Tze Chun who we featured in our look at women killing it in the arts? Her five-year-old online art gallery Uprise Art is aiming to tap into the art-buying aspirations of millennials. And she’s onto something big—millennials are forecasted to spend $1.4 trillion annually by 2020 and inherit $30 billion in the years afterward, according to the New York Times. Clearly there’s a prime opportunity to entice the newest art buying class.
Chun’s site is providing approachable opportunities to purchase art pieces—ranging from $100 to $20,000—through installment plans and a carefully curated website that tempts ‘just another five minutes of browsing’ with its clean and beautiful design.
Curiosity sparked, we gave Tze a call to hear more about her foray into arts tech, capturing the millennial buyer, and her experience curating her own collection. Check out examples of available art pieces dispersed throughout.
For those who don’t know could you talk about Uprise Art?
We are an online art gallery. We describe ourselves as the art gallery for the next generation of art collectors. We’re focused on helping people who are new collectors or are just starting their collections. We sell one of a kind originals and artist original prints and photographs. Nothing is over an edition of 20.
When I started the gallery, I wanted to support the way that artists create their own work. At the time (2011) there were 20×200 and a few other companies were creating platforms for print works. Artsy was ramping up. I felt like companies like 20×200 didn’t cater to artists working in unique mediums and those looking to sell originals.
We now work with more than 150 artists. We have to try to maintain the gallery relationship with our artists and our collectors. We help artists not only financially but also with positioning them in the market, offering them feedback and also becoming friends of their practice. On the collector side, we pride ourselves as being accessible and friendly and more affordable than many brick and mortar galleries.
We’ve had a number of artists go on to be picked up by great galleries. We’re curated to a point where very well established galleries are looking to us as feeders. We help identify emerging artists through studio visits and keeping our finger on the pulse of what’s going on.
Does Uprise Art have any upcoming events readers should check out?
We’re having our Summer Salons [every other Thursday] where we’ll be hosting the artists in our showroom with pieces by them for collectors to see and to engage with in person. Our next Summer Salon is next Thursday, July 21, from 6–8 pm, at our showroom, 264 Canal Street, Suite 4W. The featured artist will be Robert Otto Epstein.
Was there an impetus experience in your time before Uprise Art where you saw niche in the market?
I’ve been in New York for 14 years. I went to Columbia for undergrad and graduated in 2006. At the time Columbia was very much a feeder for finance—a lot of people went straight on to be consultants or go to law school. That comes with a certain pay grade but also a very large soul-sucking time commitment. I was in the art history department. A lot of people in New York apartments were buying nice furniture or going in on a Hamptons time shares but there was something philanthropic and cultural that they were missing. They were very much interested in it but didn’t have access to it.
A lot of times it’s not the finances but the mental barrier to entry. A lot of people who’ve never bought art before feel nervous or unprepared to spend money on original art because they don’t know what’s it worth or if this is what they should be buying.
How do payment plans work?
Anything under $1,000, you can pay $50/month or you can pay 10% of the list price per month. For works over $1,000 you can pay 5% of the list price every month or 10% of the list price per month. For a piece for that’s $12,000 you could buy it over the course of 20 months. [You] can have it in your home while [you’re] paying it off.
What has your experience been buying art? Did it affect Uprise Art in any way?
I was surrounded by artists and was an art history major and did visual arts all the way through college. I had a few original pieces, but those were pieces that I didn’t buy through a brick and mortar gallery in Chelsea. Those were pieces I collected over time through friends and traveling.
I have two pieces that I’m buying through installments. I don’t know if I would have felt comfortable spending thousands of dollars on art in one go.
Are you finding patterns in what people are buying right now?
We are more interested in artists creating unique works and hope that buyers will be too. We have so many conversations with our collectors, and we have found that people often don’t know what they want. Just because someone likes one piece doesn’t mean they’ll like another piece. It’s one of the downfalls of platforms like Amazon Art where they assume that you can draw parameters around taste. We’ve found that if you find interesting work, and you tell a story, then that helps people fall in love with work.
Who are artists who you find compelling right now?
We’ve [been] working with Xochi Solis [for a number of years. Recently she] created painted collages at a residency at Pele Prints were she incorporated not only collage and painting, but She also layered silk screens and prints directly onto the paper.