Artsy, Becca Starr

Art On The Road

Whether travelling to a new destination for the first time, or re-visiting an enduring favourite, the appreciation of art can play a key role in how you experience a place. It can be a catalyst for gaining insight into a city or an artist, it can reflect our own undulating thoughts and emotions, and art can lead the way to new discoveries, both internal and external. Artsy, the world’s largest online platform for collecting and discovering art, knows the importance of art when on the move, and has accordingly created a series of GPS-based city guides to help art lovers connect with art when away from home. The GPS-based city guides direct connoisseurs, collectors and the curious to art exhibitions, fairs, galleries and museum shows in London, New York, Paris, Berlin, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong.

Nick Rice talks to Becca Starr, Director of Auctions Collector Relations, about the merging of art and travel.

Art is so much more than merely a physical object, it’s an experience. With conceptions of what “luxury” means evolving to be more about experiences than accruing rare and precious goods, how does art fit into this fluid perception of modern-day luxury?

Art is, in many ways, the ultimate luxury good. The value of a work is heavily impacted by context, story, and brand. As society shifts more toward conscious consumption and purchasing objects that have lasting value and meaning, we are excited to offer a platform that enables a more seamless and enjoyable art collecting experience. Our goal is to encourage more people to choose art as a worthwhile luxury purchase, to live with more art, and to support artists. 

Photo courtesy of Artsy

Where did the idea for the Artsy City Guides come from?

Exploring galleries and museums is one of the best ways to get to know a new city. To complement the experience of discovering and collecting art online, Artsy’s City Guide connects the online experience with the experience of discovering art in person in six key cultural cities – London, New York, Paris, Berlin, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong.   

“Collecting artwork can itself be an experience.”

What luxury means in the field of travel and hospitality is also in flux – do you see any significant shifts in the way we travel today?

As new generations, especially millennials and generation Z, value spending money on experiences as well as objects, travel is becoming increasingly popular. We believe that collecting artwork can itself be an experience – from the process of discovery and education to purchase, even the experience of enjoying the work in your home every day and the story it embodies. 

What do you think people expect from luxury travelling experiences today?

People are increasingly eager to have an authentic experience while travelling. They want to intimately get to know the place they are visiting – its people and culture, including its art.

“Art is simultaneously what distinguishes individual cultures and unites us as humans.”

In such acutely divided times, is the global increase in travel a positive thing for uniting people and cultures?

As our world simultaneously becomes more divided but also more connected via the internet, travel and exploring new cultures is a powerful mechanism for fostering deeper connection that goes beyond the digital. Gaining a profound understanding of the culture and people in the place you are travelling will become increasingly important to consumers.

A decade ago, smartphones and Instagram didn’t exist and travellers used heavy books for guides to new cities and countries. Apps have changes everything. How has technology improved the travel experience?

Discovering things to do in a new place is now as easy as opening your phone – whether that’s exploring blogs, apps, or travel websites. We are much more empowered than ever before to discover unique experiences in a new place and plan a trip that is deeply personalised to our own interests and preferences. We can now source recommendations directly from locals via recommendations and blogs to learn about what people who actually live in the area enjoy doing.

Has the journey to a destination become more important as consumers place ever greater value on experiences?

As consumers increasingly value experiences, every aspect of a trip can contribute to the experience of a new place. Oftentimes it’s moments like chatting with your Uber driver in a new city or navigating the train system in a foreign language that best allow you to get to know a new place and culture. 

Photo courtesy of Artsy

The value, effect and resonance of art and is heavily dependent on the culture of the person who defines and experiences it. In your life and travels, do you encounter differences in what art actually means to different people/places?

Art is simultaneously what distinguishes individual cultures and unites us as humans. The propensity to create is very much innate to human nature, but art production and aesthetics can vary widely across geographies and cultures. What I love about travelling is seeing where cultures and people have intersected and how that is manifested in the art in the region.

What is one comfort that you couldn’t do without when travelling?

I never travel without my Canon PowerShot camera. I take too many photographs for my iPhone’s storage and battery, so I need a separate camera! I studied photography in college, and I always feel so inspired when travelling to new places. The photographs I take on my trips are the perfect souvenir – they allow me to re-live experiences even after returning home.

What are the looming challenges of the expanding travel and hospitality industry?

As consumers seek increasingly more authentic experiences and strive to connect with local communities and cultures, it will be important for those in the travel and hospitality industries to meet this need. 

How do you see the evolution of luxury – where is it heading next?

In the luxury industry, younger generations are starting to favour purchasing experiences and unique objects with long-term meaning and value. I can see the luxury industry start to move toward building stories around objects and making the purchase more of an experience. Art is a perfect example, as at Artsy, the information and editorial on our platform allows our collectors to learn more about the artwork and artist through thorough contextual information. 

“Younger generations are starting to favour purchasing experiences and unique objects with long-term meaning and value.”

With over a million artworks available via a network of 3,000 galleries, 800 museums and 80 art fairs, Artsy is enjoying phenomenal success! What's next?

Artsy is the solution for collectors in an inherently fragmented global market. If you’re seeking a unique work from an artist halfway around the world, you may only be able to access it from a particular gallery in a far-away city. Through Artsy’s vast and global network of partners, buyers can now access these works easily online. At Artsy, we will be focused on more efficiently connecting buyers with artworks they’re interested in and helping them to discover new artists. We’rehelping galleries around the world connect with buyers they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.