Innovative e-solutions for Armenian art
A group of young professionals are helping revolutionize the way we think about art
ArArt Platform dismantles barriers and borders
Published: Friday November 20, 2009
Yerevan - Albert Poghosyan, the heart and soul behind ArArt Platform, a promotional art agency based in Yerevan, is an imposing figure, at least at first glance. The 29-year old may seem better suited to being a member of a crack SWAT team than trying to promote Armenian art to the world through the Internet. But his extensive experience and knowledge of e-marketing and e-business, coupled with his passion for art makes him the ideal person to head up such a groundbreaking endeavour.
The dynamic team of young professionals who came together to be part of this innovative and forward-looking agency understood that they had one key mission, which was to launch Armenian artists to global markets using the Internet. And that meant utilizing every available networking tool.
But it wasn't simply about promoting a specific artist or two, or selling a couple of their paintings. Their mission is much more far-reaching and potentially lucrative - it's about branding and marketing images by Armenian artists for a large number of people in a very large market. "We wanted to do something that was creative, something to do with art and which would have a very clear promotional business aspect," Poghosyan said, sitting in front of his computer screen and explaining their business model. With is were art agents/bloggers Mariam and Angela and ArArt Platform's designer Arthur.
By taking the image of a piece of art, reproducing it into something that is available for a huge market through a variety of web system trading reproduction sites, including artistrising.com, imagekind.com, deviantart.com and eBay, they are making Armenian artwork available not only in its original form but in many different configurations: a coffee mug with an Armenian painting, or a throw pillow with Armenian motifs, or magnets, or tote-bags, or mouse pads or shoes that have prints by Armenian artists.
Reproducing art for the future
Explaining their business approach, Albert invokes the name of Chris Anderson who popularized the Long Tail Theory first published in an article in Wired magazine in 2004. The strategy involves selling a large number of unique items in relatively small quantities in addition to selling fewer popular items in large quantities. Instead of concentrating on selling one single painting, the vision is to take that painting, reproduce it and make it available to a wider and much more comprehensive market through the web.
The agency was formed five months ago and the name ArArt was borne - it's a name that encompasses both Armenia, art, and Ararat. "It has a very appealing sound," Albert says. Once they had the name, they realized that they had to assemble everything onto a single platform from where they could springboard onto the international market. And their target audience isn't just the Armenian diaspora. Their work has a much wider scope.
The roster of painters they represent includes very young Armenian painters and older, more established ones. "We had to start thinking how we could create a platform for these artists," Albert said. ArArt Platform offers an unbelievable opportunity and a number of services for the artists they represent. "We find the talented artists and their paintings; we write about them, create their own personal websites; write their biography, mission statement and we do this all free of charge," he explained. "We then place all their information on different Internet sites like Wikipedia and social networks."
Armenian art revealed
Why limit the art of Armenia only to Armenia when it can be presented to the whole world?
"These days many countries are totally wired into the Internet, and tens of millions of people are now making purchases online, sitting in the comfort of their own homes," Albert explains. "We ourselves make all our purchases online - from books to equipment." Indeed, when there are so many people using the Internet, it can have a very big market impact. "We have not entered the international marketplace with one idea, but we are in a position to satisfy many different requests," he said.
The team tells me that in Poland alone there are 5,000 artists and pose the question - what percentage of those artists become known or have their artwork available and selling in international markets? "By utilizing a very basic tool, the Internet, we make art very available," he says. "Our objective is to present these artists not only as Armenian artisits, but in their own particular genre, whether that is impressionism or expressionism. At the same time, our motto is Armenian Art Revealed."
What the team at ArArt Platform is saying is very simple - start looking at things with a new perspective and vision, in a new and innovative way; art is not only for the museums of the world; it's what can move and interest people and can be available for wide commercial use.
The services offered to artists through this agency are phenomenal. ArArt Platform registers the artist's domain, writes their mission statement, sets up their website, takes photos of their paintings, registers the copyright of each work in the United States, helps them determine pricing, and sends it out to the virtual world that exists all around us. "We don't necessarily want to sell their original pieces. From one original piece we want to have repeatable merchandise available to the market," Albert continues. "We don't want to center our attention on how to sell one painting to one person, but rather how can we use a single digital image for reproduction and merchandising. It's limitless, the number of people who can enjoy the artwork of a single artist is simply limitless."
Albert wants Armenians living in the homeland to understand one thing - the idea of being landlocked that exists in our consciousness must be smashed. Borders and barriers no longer exist. "We have limited ourselves, both intellectually and physically by exporting only cognac," he says. "I want very much for this concept to take flight in Armenia. It's a simple business model; if you have an idea, you can be successful in Armenia. You can sit in front of a computer, in an office in Yerevan and sell duduks all over the world, if you wanted to."
It certainly is a new world, which requires changes in the way we think, act, and do business. "We want to pitch our ideas to the world, we want to incorperate them, we want to cooperate and have media coverage and be part of wider networks," he says. "The main thrust of our work is promotion. We are using different channels, blogging, FaceBook, Twitter, lifestreaming, Flickr and Picassa for the photos and every other available network."
ArArt Platform is the embodiment of talented people with bright ideas thinking outside the box. "We want to present everything in a unique fashion, including video presentations, reviews in video format using youtube and other Internet services," he says. "In Armenia, we want to cooperate with different galleries and art centers."
In the future, this young bright team wants to also promote older Armenian art through reproductions - works by Ervand Kochar, Martiros Saryan, Minas, Sergei Paradjanov. "No one has done any work with these great pieces of art." Imagine drinking coffee with Saryan's landscape in its rich, earthy colors printed on the mug.
The reproductions on a variety of materials and products is not done by the agency. "We receive the order, we upload the image to the necessary producer who makes it and ships it directly to your home," Albert explained.
The genuine excitement and commitment that Art Agents Mariam and Angela convey during my visit to their studio office in downtown Yerevan says it all. A new, motivated, innovative and fearless generation of young Armenians are ploughing full steam ahead into a cyber world that promises to dismantle traditional ways of thinking. Physical borders and barriers do not frighten or intimidate or limit them.
Instead of sitting back and watching them move forward, we can help by supporting, nourishing and encouraging their vision.