Natasha Arselan is an art entrepreneur, adviser, consultant, curator and gallerist based in London. In 2017 she founded AucArt, the leading platform for emerging art. The venture became a global epicentre enabling collectors to discover a curated selection of early career/emerging artists, and acquire artworks directly from artist’s studios around the world. Through this, the platform set up an online magazine and hosted a number of benefit sales. In 2019 she set up a philanthropic live/work artist residency in central London. In 2021 Natasha launched her first gallery space in London and has curated shows in London, New York and Hong Kong.
Natasha offers advisory & consultancy services to private and corporate clients. curatorial services, contributes to publications, podcasts, and speaks publicly with a key focus on art as an asset, value systems, innovation and access.
She has been invited to speak at a number academic institutions such as Oxford university, the Courtauld Institute, Geneva Business School & Columbia University. Natasha specialises in the primary art market and artist management in which she has an MA from Kings College London. She has previously lived in Europe, Middle East and now resides in the UK.
Hi Natasha, thank you for sitting down with me! First question. How does a regular day look like for you in London.
I always start my day with a coffee & gratitude list, I then revert to my daily task list, to be honest the content of my day varies from admin, calls/meetings with clients, studio visits with artists, arranging logistics etc.
Before we jump into it.. I know you’ve got a MA in Art and Cultural Management, from Kings College London. But can you tell me a little bit about your background. Like what you’ve been doing and how you first got introduced to the art world?
Initially I studied Musical theatre & performance – (you’d never guess) while living in Tel Aviv in 2011, my interest/focus switched to visual arts, through various experiences, I began interning at a gallery there and began reading, writing and attending various openings etc. I started curating my own (very underground) exhibitions with local artists… I immersed myself and have not looked back since.
Alright, so I know AucArt first launched in 2017. But when did you first get the idea and what made you pursue it? Also, what was your initial plan for the platform?
The idea came to me in 2015, at the time I was studying my MA. An artist I’d worked with in the past (who was at art school at the time) explained he’d ran out of funds (at the time he needed funds to create final works for his degree show), if I could come to the studio and buy a work. I was blown away by the quality of work – not just his but collectively as a final year group. It left me questioning – how I could create this access/opportunity for others to collect art work from early career artists at a time when they need the most support. Initially the platform existed as the first online auction house for emerging art – at the end of 2019 we pivoted to curated online market place. My ultimate goal was to make a centralised hub to discover and collect first emerging artists from all over the world.
Continuing on this subject. AucArt, is now a leading platform in the art world, with a marketplace, a magazine and various services. My question is. Can you try and walk me through the process of building it, to where it is now? And who advises you, when implementing new features and services?
We’ve actually built the platform twice, the first ground up primarily as an auction house – the second time round using existing solutions more towards online gallery with the option to ‘make an offer’. In regards to advisers – the best advisers have been the clients/artists that use the platform – their feedback is always encouraged as we better the service and features. Most of the time it was comes down to a simple ‘Why’ why does this feature exist. It has also helped studying (during my MA) & understanding value system in the art market and integrating these factors into the services we offer – so it’s not just a e-commerce but a platform that adds value to the artist/artwork that will in turn benefit both artist & collector.
Thinking back to the beginning. What has been some of the biggest obstacles in building it?
Building the technology from nill was a painful and expensive decision I would have decided differently looking back. Burn out. Lack of stability which I think was not a great baseline for some of my early decisions. Funds – i funded with my savings (modest amount)- the brand has grown organically, I’ve continued to re-invest over the last 6 years (AucArt turns 6 on December 1st).
What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far, building AucArt?
Don’t rush into making decisions (sobriety has been a game changer in regards to this) & success is measured in many different ways, it’s not always obvious.
Can you talk to me a little bit about how you discover new talents. And also what you look for when artists submit their work on the site. What’s your curation process like etc…
We in turn invite artists & receive submissions – always based on the work – we look for consistency in their practice, we enjoy reading artist statements, the ideology behind the work, CV highlights and what the artist has coming up in the next 6-12 months is always exciting! Investment wise this gives us an indication of where the artist is going to, for some clients this is important. I personally work with artists I believe in.
These last couple of years, several platforms have popped up, that are within the realm of AucArt. What are your thoughts when you see new, potential competitors?
How can we improve – what are they doing that AucArt is currently not.
What motivates you?
Growth, in it’s many forms. Maximising potential both myself and others & discovery.
What is your future vision for AucArt?
A Sustainable eco system that supports art collectors to discover and collect early gems & to support International emerging artists getting them to the next phase in their career.
In London You opened your first gallery. And how do you juggle running a gallery and AUC, at the same time?
As Beyonce once said ‘There are 24 hours in a day’ 🙂 Yes I ran a programme for 12 months. I will open my latest show on Monday (20th of November) ‘Land of internal wonders’ featuring Camilla Marie Dahl, Iseult Perrault, Emmely Elgersma and Alex Appleby. All welcome 🙂
I also advise and source artworks for collectors (both individual and corporate) I’ve built relationships with over the past years, to read more do visit natashaarselan.com.
Given the rise in popularity of art, mainly due to Instagram and other social media platforms. Is that something that spills over to AucArt? Have you noticed anything different these last couple of years? Anything worth mentioning?
It’s makes us more accessible & instantly contactable- we have often sold work via DM.
With that in mind. Do you ever think the art market is too saturated?
It is and it isn’t – It’s definitely not at the top of the art market pyramid.
I’m curious about your thoughts on NFTs. What do you thing the future holds for them? And what is your opinion on the shift they bring to the art scene?
Not a fan! I understand the aspects of authenticating & creating aspects of shared ownership NFT’s display, but not sold on this as a medium…
With that in mind. Have you ever thought about implementing NFTs to AucArt?
We had a conversation or two that’s as far as we got…
Alright Natasha. I always ask these two questions at the end of an interview. The first is. What’s your favorite movie(s) and why?
I love movies – so this is tough – my favourite Childhood movie: The secret garden! Good Will Hunting & C’mon C’mon.
The second is. What song(s) are you currently listening to the most right now?
Fred Again’s Boiler room session is pretty much on repeat & crowded house ‘Don’t dream it’s over’.
Profile pic by Brynley Odu Davies