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Artsy: A Place For Every Art Lover


Fine art: millions of thoughts and feelings, wondrously expressed by the human hand.

In times long past, owning fine art was considered a grand privilege. However, today we live in a world where all kinds of art are available at the click of a button.

Can you imagine looking at fine art from every gallery in the world whenever you decide? This idea boggled Carter Cleveland and Sebastion Cwilich's minds for a long time. So, they set their goal to bring world-leading galleries, auctions, art fairs, and art pieces closer to the curious public.

Carter Cleveland wanted to support other artists by creating a platform where they can sell their work, and thus, Artsy was born! Artsy is an online art marketplace that offers visual art from all around the world and from any given age. A haven for collectors to find art based on their taste. From galleries to art fairs and auctions, this platform has everything you'd ever want when it comes to art.

Want to know more about the story of how Artsy came to be one of the best-known online art marketplaces?

Let's unveil the picture of Carter Cleveland's life story here:

Life Imitating Art

Carter Cleveland remembers listening to his father's stories about fine art pieces and what they represented from an early age. Growing up in crowded New York made it difficult for Carter to adapt and socialize with peers his own age. So instead, he turned to the world of literature and became a bookworm himself. As someone who was considered to be quite the introvert, Carter's favorite pastime was catching up on some historical facts about painting and shared them with his father.

These conversations created a strong bond between father and son and awoke the young boy's thirst for knowledge. The relationship between Carter and his father cemented how he would feel about art for his entire life.

The young art-enthusiast used to daydream about medieval painters; the detailed movements of the brush, the steady hands of the gifted sculptors, and the straight geometrical lines all enticed his imagination to go wild.

Sebastian Cwilich, who comes from Colombia, had a great deal of interest in mathematics. The young math geek would always fill the silence with his extraordinary ramblings about mathematics, and from a young age, he had an impressively high IQ. In some way, he had his own gallery inside his mind too, where he calculated and measured the details of a single framework of art. Moreover, historical facts were his favorite go-to as he would memorize and use them as a conversation starter. Although his mind was packed with mathematical equations and numbers, Sebastian had a special place in his heart for art.

Carter and Sebastian soon became devotees to science but never forgot how art made them feel while growing up. Even though they were drawn to scientific experiments and problems, what followed was nothing they'd expected from their lives.

Parallel Lines

Carter and Sebastian hadn't bumped into each other's lives for a long time before college, and both had different interests before they met. However, once they stumbled into each other in their young and wild college years, there was no stopping them.

Carter was a Princeton computer science major, while Sebastian got his double degree in mathematics and Spanish language at the Colombia University. Their college years were filled with fun moments and rebellious memories, and soon both of them found out they had something in common - the love of art.

So, they became persistent in starting a new chapter, a journey that will eclipse the one they had beforehand. The two soon-to-be entrepreneurs never thought that this journey would be their biggest success.

A Blank Canvas

The story of their entrepreneurial journey resembles how other billion-dollar companies started out - inside a student dorm room. The core of the idea of their venture came from their shared love for art. So, by combining Sebastian's leadership skills and Carter's extensive knowledge of art, in 2009, the duo brought Artsy into the world.

Artsy was a website created for art collectors and curious watchers to buy, sell, and learn more about their favorite pieces. The duo managed to bring a plethora of art pieces closer to every art follower.

They would broaden the experience of art by giving detailed descriptions with historical facts that would enable the visitor to learn more about the background and influence of the piece that they were admiring. People instantly were addicted to Artsy because it provided a different perspective on how people perceive art.

Visitors would be able to find detailed descriptions, historical facts, and vibrant commentary regarding the artwork.

Sebastian put his brain to work when he found a way to make the site run with the help of artificial intelligence. The project was called the Art Genome Project, and it presented brand-new ways to catalog artwork based on the visitors' preference. This project would use artificial intelligence to separate different art pieces into various classifications based on the likings of the potential buyer.

The perfect mix of art and science made Artsy stand out amongst the mass.

Squiggly Lines

With a catchy name like Artsy, the young star-eyed entrepreneurs thought they had it all nipped in the bud, but Sebastian and Carter were unaware that a storm was brewing.

Some veteran and newbie art collectors were not yet acquainted with online art markets, so there wasn't much buying and selling going on. Therefore the profit margins never grew. It was no surprise that most companies had failed when selling art in the past, but Carter and Sebastian were willing to prove that they could achieve it.

Even though Artsy relied heavily on artificial intelligence-driven art predictors that gave the public easy access to what they prefer, it was not without a cost. Between 2009 and 2011, the company invested millions of dollars, but unfortunately, with no profit.

Because of the lack of financial gain, The Art Genome Project stopped appearing in the press, so Sebastian and Carter acquired ArtAdvisor - a firm that developed algorithms for the art market.

Carter and Sebastian's story mirrors Sisyphus's struggle - by being kicked down 9 times, they managed to get up 10.

In early 2014 when it came to the round of investment, Artsy garnered over $18.5 million. This decision was a reaction to the change of the business model. The platform Artsy began to use gallery subscribership as a means to maintain its fees.

In 2015 Artsy expanded to China, where it did not last long since it was let go after only a year.

To reach the competition, Artsy became more invested in online auctions.

Due to the closing of live auctions and art exhibitions, more galleries turned to online art galleries and art fairs to sell their art. The hustle paid off in the long run, as it is one of the best-known art online marketplaces in the world.

Set Your Sights

So, these daily efforts were not for naught as they both believed that there is a way art can be closer to people. Sebastian and Carter wanted to prove that you can sell art online. Through the many following investments, there was no shortage of ups and downs.

The company had different names throughout its ten-year run and various business strategies, but one thing remained: through thick and thin, Carter stood by his idea to bring art to potential buyers!

A Colorful Future

Carter stood by his idea, and today he owns a million-dollar company. Sebastian Cwilich decided to step down as co-founder but remained a senior adviser and second-largest share-holder. The decision was amicable as both parties continue to support one another.

Today, Artsy represents a large piece of the online art marketplace - a place for artists to meet art collectors, to promote and sell their art, to exchange opinions and to truly experience the art community!