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“Art as Entrepreneurship”

October 2, 2011

by Jennifer Markas

General Assembly, the collaborative workspace for start-up technology companies, and Active Ideas Productions have partnered together to launch a new series of educational events this Fall for the art novice and expert alike. “Art as Entrepreneurship” analyzes and evaluates distinct areas of the business of art including collecting, curation, and investment.

I had the opportunity of attending the first panel, “Art Outside the Gallery,” last Wednesday at General Assembly’s location in Union Square. Along with an all-star line-up, Annika Connor, founder of Active Ideas Productions, divulged the secrets of success for launching and running non-traditional venues for art.

In attendance was world-renowned artist, Richard Phillips, who has exhibited paintings at White Cube Gallery in London as well as Gagogsian in New York City. He discussed the notion of not only creating art, but also creating “your own media.” Whereas art in a traditional business model waits to be picked up by the press, Phillips has turned the model upside down with the release of his short films, Lindsay Lohan and Sasha Grey. They were released by Phillips on YouTube reaching nearly 2.2 million viewers worldwide. His insight of the art world is useful for aspiring artists and curators alike. He proves that ‘it is not about who you know, but who knows you.’

Christina Tonkin grabbed the audience’s attention with her insider knowledge of the hit show Gossip Girl for which she is the set decorator. Tonkin engaged us with anecdotes about which artists works she chooses to display on set and why. Her profession’s medium, television and film, epitomizes a non-traditional venue for art and is most definitely an alternative outlet for aspiring curators and artists to keep in mind considering more opportunities exist nowadays for self-released film and multi-media production.

Gagogsian employee by day and independent curator by night, Jill Murphy launched AD Projects in the wake of economic crisis. As a four person curatorial team, AD Projects exhibits up-and-coming artists in alternative venues such as empty commercial buildings and warehouses. Their continued success is partially due to a revenue model based on low-overhead where exhibition space is fully sponsored by the property owner, a definite advantage when curating in an economic recession.

Lastly, Carter Cleveland finished the panel discussion by divulging the essence of his captivating business, “Powered by The Art Genome Project, an ongoing study of the characteristics that distinguish and connect works of art, evaluates artworks along 500+ characteristics to create a powerful search experience that reflects the multifaceted aspects of works of art.” It is said to be a ‘Pandora for art,’ which Cleveland hopes will not only engage people with art, but also educate them about the art.

I highly recommend attending any of the upcoming “Art as Entrepreneurship” panels as they are educating, engaging, and accessible. General Assembly’s space is contemporary and inviting, and hosts an intelligent, edgy group of individuals who make up today’s most promising entrepreneurs. Hope to see you at the next lecture!

Register here for the upcoming panel discussions in the “Art as Entrepreneurship” series:

Art as Investment: A Survey and Explanation of the Art Market
Wednesday, October 19, 7-9:30pm

The Fusion of Fine Art and Fashion
Wednesday, November 16, 7-9:30pm

Curating your Corporate and Private Collection
Wednesday, December 16, 7-9:30pm

Jennifer Markas is the Founder of Damsels in Design NYC. She currently works as a Business Manager for the architecture firm, Thomas Phifer and Partners. Jennifer can be contacted by email at

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