Ideas and Validation July 23, 2020

When was your last visit to an art gallery?

Kevin McDonagh @tell_me_a_story

I have just begun: Custorian
Custorian's existing audience is addicted, knowledgable collectors. Often a tour will be booked as a complement to their existing trip abroad. Although I am targeting an existing audience, along the way, I hope to build a new audience.
I am guessing you are not a collector.

So I ask, when might you have ever have visited a (preferably contemporary) art gallery and why?

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    Nice! Going to share this with my brother, he's a fine art artist! @tell_me_a_story

    I'm also validating and growing a side project. Keen to hear your feedback!

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      Your side project list is really useful research thanks. The plan will be to help artists have more studio tours to show their work in progress and help their sales. If your brother is up for it I'd be happy to chat with him.

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        Hey @tell_me_a_story - He'd like to start a conversation with you. How can he get in touch :) ? He's also in London.

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          Oh, that's ideal then, just maybe dm me over twitter or shoot me an email via the site. Thanks

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            Awesome @tell_me_a_story - just instructed him. Thanks man!

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    Hi Kevin,

    I really like that you've picked out such an interesting niche. As everyone here confirms, they're not your target audience. Why did you ask about it here?

    I do think this might be a great way for eager art collectors to get early access to art that nobody else has seen. If you turn it into something premium, you can also ask a premium price for the exclusivity and support artists with great contributions. In a way it's somewhat patreon-like, but with a twist that might borrow itself better to this premium market.

    From the messaging on your website, I can't figure out who your target audience is; so I'm wondering if you've figured it out yet. With Validator.phalox.be I'm helping solo developers validate their startup ideas (customer segment validation is a big chunk). You don't entirely fit my target audience from what I can see, but it would still be interesting for me (and maybe for you) to have a short call! Let me know if you're interested. If not, I wish you all the luck to find your target customers and build something that's both great for you and the artists!

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      Thank you for checking out custorian Toon, and thanks too for offering your time and help. I don't require assistance now as I am working with a close-knit team in the UK. Our current approach is a mixture of customer development interviews, gallery shows, and sales.

      It might look odd for me to ask for feedback from a non-target audience. But it is my ambition to open up contemporary art's appeal. I am confused why smart people with wildly diverse tastes in music, film, and life take no notice of mass-produced IKEA prints on their walls? I am convinced there is an opportunity to raise expectations and assist self-expression through access to unique, new stories. I can think of no one better to ask about this than the brilliant hackers within the indiehackers community. I wonder what hangs on their walls? Have you ever visited a gallery?

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        Interestingly, the first business project of Paul Graham of Y Combinator fame was an art startup. He never launched it though.

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          That's a great point. His book "Hackers and painters" is still a favourite of mine.

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        Sure, I did, and there's sometimes cool stuff to see. But I'm part of this generation that goes to Ikea for everything. We no longer have a great appreciation for the unique art created and usually lack the appreciation for any kind of artisanal stuff. My gf is knitting now, and people just say: yeah knit me a sweater. Nobody's aware that it takes 6 months to knit a sweater and that both the wool and the working hours make such a thing too expensive to even consider buying it anywhere.

        Your value proposition is exclusivity, while my entire generation (sorry for generalizing) is going for commodity. If you want to adress the younger generations, maybe try starting from what they are interested in and see if you can link this back to long lost appreciation? (maybe it's not visiting, maybe it's creating themselves?)

        PS: my walls were either white, so we could move easily; had some souvenirs from asia or pictures.

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          I am afraid I have to disagree ;) While your generalization may hold through local bias, the luxury market is more significant than it has ever been both in value and appeal. There is more appreciation for artisanal objects, and their audience has never been more diverse as a percentage of public spending power and class.

          I sympathize with your gf's knitting demands but flipped another way people may be trying to praise her for popular products she creates by showing they'd like to wear them. You work in the services industry, and you'll know yourself unless you speak loud and proud about the deep and constant work you contribute, no one will ever take notice to respect the value of those efforts.

          Your mobility and flexibility are more important to you than any decoration. You see it as a necessary compromise. I don't necessarily agree with that either, but there may be opportunities for collectible art experiences that are more mobile and more flexible. The availability of local art galleries' is one option; currently, they do not attempt to pull in traveling crowds.

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            Hi Kevin, you know your field better than anyone. But you asked me my views, and it seems you're disagreeing with them. When you're validating an idea, you better keep your senses wide open and without judgement. When you judge people, you're missing out on critical information (you might disregard me as your target audience, but if you truly understand my problems, maybe I do become your main target audience).

            I wish you all the luck in your endeavors!

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    I visited the tate modern in London not too long ago. When I visit galleries it’s more about having something to do with friends, rather than the art itself, so I’m probably not the target audience. However, i do have friends who follow art quite closely and would like something like you’re offering

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      Thank you, Max, The Tate is one of the best Art galleries in the world to wander around with friends. The architecture is astounding, and it's right within London's beating heart on the Southbank, which is ideal for a weekend stroll. Maybe you went for lunch with friends afterward? You mention not thinking yourself as a target audience, but I'm sure you likely have a picture or two on your wall and are probably someone who believes in a strong sense of identity. Might you have seen any artists whose names you remember from that trip? Might you be more likely to buy their work to adorn your walls?

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        I have to admit that I don't remember the names of the artists from the times I've been to the Tate (shame on me). I usually went when I had friends visit me in London because as you said it's just a nice thing to do. The next stop would often be a pub or restaurant.
        I just had a glimpse through my room and I can tell you exactly what items I have in my room that count as art/are related to art:

        • A coffee table book about Joan Miro that I bought at an exhibition I went to in Paris last year. I love Miro paintings, but can't tell you why and couldn't have a sophisticated conversation about why he's a good painter - I just like his paintings 🤷‍♂️
        • There are two paintings hanging on my wall, both are by street artists from Oaxaca (Mexico). I'm a fan of Latin American culture in general and bought them when I was living there for a couple of months

        Are you planning on offering custorian tours on Airbnb? Or would that be too mainstream as a channel?

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          Tate is an excellent gateway to art. It's a safe place to explore many established stories with friends. The walls of Oaxaca are a great example of why my mission is so important. Miro is terrific, with no sophisticated conversation needed more than your appreciation of his work. But institutions tend to focus on the stories of established, dead, or near dead artists. Living artists sharing their struggles and looking for others to take interest and spread their motives further is what I am primarily interested in assisting. Sounds to me Max, like you are starting to move beyond that gateway.

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    I visited the Boros Bunker in Berlin recently and loved it.

    I visited it because of personal recommendations first and instagram content second.

    Hope it helps!

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      You know, I spent many years in Berlin and never visited 'the bunker'. More fool me, it's supposed to be amazing. I'd always heard it was exclusive and that you couldn't get in and so I never tried.

      Thanks for sharing those triggers, did you go with friends at the weekend in the afternoon after a nice breakfast and where did you go after? What artworks did you see there which stuck with you?

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    I'm not sure it qualifies as a gallery but I visited Prada Foundation's modern art museum in Milan, Italy, for most of the summer and early fall of 2018. The reason is I worked there for a project.

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      Thank you Paolo, I'd never heard of Fondazione Prada. It's fascinating how high-end brands turn to Art for social validation to value outside of standard retail commoditization. I'm sure you would have walked around a bit while you were working there, what were your impressions? What might make you return? You worked there for a project might there be any resources online so I can see your project?

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        You can get an idea of what Prada Foundation does by having a look at the official website.

        The place is really unusual and intriguing, especially to me who have no art background. What impressed me most are the architecture and the insightful conversations about art with the staff, in particular the room guardians who are usually young art or design students.

        I actually work in a completely unrelated field, astronomy and space outreach and education. And that's why I was hired.

        At the time, there was a temporary exhibition by Brazillian artist Laura Lima, Slight Agitation 4/4. It featured an impressive series of large installations, including one named The Telescope. It was a giant scaffholding structure with a lecture space and a true telescope.

        My job there was to do daily performances inside the structure, astronomy lectures. The artist explicitly advised me to focus and geek out on astronomy, not art. It was really fun.

        If you watch the video linked from the Slight Agitation 4/4 page, you can see the artist and me. I'm the, um, not exactly young and sparsely haired guy with eyeglasses who talks next to a whiteboard and handles the telescope.

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          What an amazing experience Paolo. It seems to me that you have had something of an art reckoning. Exactly the kinds of experiences I would like to encourage with Custorian . You had a little time outside yourself, within an environment which didn't hold the same expectations and it's only through spending more time there that we can build appreciations of art. Art is like little meditations. Drawings, Paintings and sculptures are never the full story of artist interactions but rather the echoes along their journey as they help people stop and wonder. I bet now you'd be much more likely to attend another show by Laura Lima or perhaps display one of her artworks in her home. Just like how @supermaxi31 has pictures from street artists in Mexico or
          @phalox 's white walls with Asian memorabilia, the most common reason I've yet come across for people's art habits is expressing their memories. People collect themselves.

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            Yes, I was definitely meaning to spend more time at Prada Foundation after the project ended. But personal issues and the pandemic hit hard, and I got sidetracked.

            A few years ago I relocated to a new apartment and the move took its toll. It was highly stressful, I threw away huge piles of stuff gathered over the past decades. I swore I would never gather unnecessary stuff again.

            This cooled considerably my interest in decoration and artifacts. I was glad I had switched to ebooks over half a dozen years earlier.

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              Great feedback, that worry about where to put it when moving is something which @phalox has mentioned he also values. I do hope you'll give some more galleries a go soon.