Two rounds of funding worth $7.25 million mean that accessing art on the web just got easier thanks to search engine start-up Art.sy.
Two years ago an idea for an arts-focused search facility was put forward by Art.sy. The company proposed to make art available to the masses by making it searchable by style, colour or artist and would even use browsing data to give personalized recommendations and introduce art lovers to pieces they may not have encountered before.
Investment from Key Players
The Art.sy idea first appeared way back in 2010, and since then former Princeton computer science engineer and CEO Carter Cleveland and his team have been busy drumming up capital. The seven-and-a-quarter million invested in the business by the likes of Paypal’s Peter Thiel, Google’s Eric Schmidt and Twitter creator Jack Dorsey surely means that Art.sy’s destined for great things.
After 24 months of development and beta testing Art.sy is finally open for business and boasts associations with over 50 museums, non-profits and estates, as well as an impressive 275 galleries. The resulting portal allows visitors to browse, discover and learn about over 20,000 individual works of art – many of which will be recommended to them by clever use of their browsing data. Not a million miles away from Pandora’s Genome Project, and you can listen to some great music on Art.sy too.
Making Art Accessible
Cleveland has said many times that the aim of Art.sy is straightforward – to make art accessible to anyone with an Internet connection, and he and the Art.sy gang have not only worked hard to ensure they capture data to personalize recommendations for their users, they have also created an impressive classification system that tracks trends and nuances to create suggestions that are bang-on trend.
Behind the scenes at Art.sy towers, a dedicated gang of data miners and art experts pick up where the technology falls short and evaluates each piece on the database based on predetermined criteria. For example, only the humans can decide whether they’re looking at an abstract piece, an example of pop art or impressionism.
A Complex Back End
The user interface does little to hint at the complex mechanisms that lie beyond and drive Art.sy. Visitors can search by category, geographical area or artist and selecting a particular piece takes them to a page populated with info on the work, artist biographies and context. What’s more, if the piece happens to be on the market, Art.sy can put users in touch with the seller. Once users have started selecting their own favourite pieces, Art.sy’s clever technology will kick in and start recommending alternative pieces based on art already selected.
Cleveland and his supporters hope that Art.sy will bring culture to the masses and democratize what sometimes seems inaccessible i.e. art, in much the same way that Google did with information. The possibilities for artists, galleries and brokers are clearly there. Art.sy could act as a launch pad for emerging talent, highlight the work of galleries and curators and shift pieces that may be up for sale to people that may never have considered buying art before. However it has competition in the shape of The Google Art Project and Paddle8 so whether it can deliver on its promises remains to be seen.