I have a huge soft spot in my heart for Seattle. While Mr. Forager has lived in Seattle, I haven’t yet. But when I do ( and when I visit! ), you can bet I’ll be utilizing the recently launched site, Artsyo to find local artists and their work. The brainchild of Sarah Brooks and Stella Laurenzo, Artsyo is a searchable site providing users with ways to find the kinds of local artists and artwork they love, connect with those artists and ( hopefully! ) buy a work of art they adore.
Co-founder Sarah Brooks gave me a little time yesterday to chat about the how, what, why of Artsyo–
Artsy Forager | How did Artsyo get started?
Sarah Brooks | When I moved to Seattle in 2007, I had my first apartment and my first real job, and I was really excited to buy a piece of original art for the first time. I was going to art walks and loving the art scene here, but it was harder than I’d expected to find a piece that I both loved AND could afford. I knew that somewhere out there in Seattle, maybe at a coffee shop in Ballard or a studio in Georgetown, there was a perfect piece for me that was also in my price range…but how would I ever find it? I was working a lot, and I didn’t have enough time to visit every gallery and every art walk, and I was wishing for some way to see a bigger visual of what was out there to guide my search. I finally decided last year to leave my job and start working on building this big visual map of the Seattle art scene for real.
AF | What do you see as the biggest challenge to connecting would-be art collectors with artists and galleries?
SB | One big challenge I see is that there are a lot of people who don’t think of themselves as collectors. Because it’s historically been this thing only for the really wealthy and the people-in-the-know, the prospect of buying art is intimidating. And the way most of the avenues are set up now — you have the gallery that’s only open by appointment, for example — reinforces that very formal, art world exclusivity feeling. Which is great for some, but I think there are a lot of people who would rather be able to get familiar with pieces in a stress-free setting, like in their own home. I think more and more people are starting to realize that anyone can be an art collector, and that not every piece costs $20,000. There are a bunch of great people working on the same problem in Seattle right now: Sharon Arnold with LxWxH, Wynne Greenwood with SeaCat. It’s an exciting time, and the more people who realize that they can be appreciators and owners of art, the better for everyone!
AF | What is it about Seattle that attracts so many artists?
SB | Good question! I think it has something to do with the freedom to be different over here, and that’s got to be linked with creativity. I’m from the northeast, and one thing I love about Seattle is that out here, you can be weird. And that’s cool. I think it’s also the reason that we have such a great tech community here…there’s room to be creative and weird and try new things, and the whole culture out here embraces it. Look at the Solstice Festival! I can’t imagine that happening where I grew up…
AF | Have you purchased any Artsyo featured work for yourself yet? Any particular piece you’re coveting?
SB | Not yet! I knew I was putting myself in a dangerous spot with all of this amazing art right in front of me all day every day, so I made a solemn promise that I wouldn’t buy a piece until I found a way to make Artsyo financially sustainable. Right now all of my expendable cash is tied up in getting Artsyo off the ground. But there are so many pieces on the site that I would love to take home with me. Ryan Molenkamp’s Cut Bank in particular (but you might have guessed that from the Artsyo home page design).
AF | What are the hopes and dreams you & Stella have for the future of Artsyo? Any plans to expand to other cities?
SB | Our hope is to make Artsyo the site that we were dreaming about before it existed: a new way to discover art in Seattle that makes it easier and more fun to find art and buy art and live with art. With that in mind, we’re working on an art map (so that if you’re going for a walk in your neighborhood, you can see what’s up at every place nearby and drop in if something catches your eye). We’re about to add “last mile” services, too — the whole process of framing and installation is daunting for a lot of busy people, and so we want to take care of that and make it as easy as possible. In terms of new cities, we’d love to try Artsyo in Portland and San Francisco in the future…actually, I think there are a lot of cities that need an Artsyo. But first, we want to make sure we’re doing it right in Seattle.
Thanks, Sarah, for taking the time to chat– now here’s a fun little announcement for you! To commemorate its launch, Artsyo is running a Pimp My Wall contest for Seattle art lovers! Basically show Artsyo that your wall is in major need of some art lovin’ and you could win an Artsyo work of art of your own choosing ( worth up to $500 ). See the Artsyo blog for more details! Sorry, the contest is only open to those lucky enough to live in Seattle. 😉