The art industry and the digital space used to be on the opposite sides of the spectrum…until now. Uprise Art is making waves in a big way for the new generation of art collectors. They make the art-buying process less intimidating and more tangible for those who are interested in dipping their toes into the art world. We got to chat with the Founder of Uprise Art, Tze Chun, about how she got her start. Tze’s passion for art, keen eye for opportunity and entrepreneurial spirit has led to a successful and flourishing career! Read on to find out how Tze overcame obstacles when building her company, discovers emerging artists and continues to combine art with digital.
Please introduce yourself.
I’m based in NYC and the Founder of Uprise Art, an online art gallery that makes it easy to collect original artwork by contemporary artists. I started the gallery in 2011 when I realized that art was one of the last industries to move online and that galleries were for the most part very opaque, intimidating and hard to navigate.
At Uprise Art, we believe that collecting art is not just a purchase, it’s an experience. When our collectors take home a one-of-a-kind work of art, they are creating a relationship with an artist and become a patron of that artist’s practice. Our team of in-house art advisors also help collectors (free of charge) find the perfect artwork for their homes.
As a woman founder, were there any obstacles you had to overcome building and growing your company? What was your biggest lesson and proudest career moment?
Women are underrepresented in most areas of the art world, from curatorial positions at museums to galleries and auction houses. Uprise Art is a female-founded gallery with a women-led team. More than 50 percent of our artists are women too, which is very rare in the gallery world! That is something I’m very proud of, although we never set out to meet that ratio. We’ve always focused on representing artists with a unique perspective and voice, and that has led us to the diverse roster we have today.
One lesson I’ve learned is to build a team of people you enjoy working with. There are many people who are qualified for a role, but a team becomes like your family (if you are as lucky as I have been) and finding people who you admire and enjoy being around makes all the difference.
At Uprise Art, we start the week reviewing “small and big wins” from the previous week. It’s difficult to think about what career moment I’m most proud of since our company’s success is the result of so many milestones and achievements on the way. That being said, moving into our newest office a year ago was a highlight; we’re in a large open loft space in Chinatown with beautiful high tin ceilings and lots of wall space for art. We host events here and have collectors and interior designers over all the time for viewings. It’s always a treat having people over to see works in person.
Why would you recommend someone buy art through Uprise Art versus the traditional way at a gallery? What differentiates you from your competitors?
Buying art at a traditional gallery can be difficult for many reasons. We work with a vast range of collectors, from first-time art buyers to large corporate collections. Many galleries only cater to well-known collectors or the top end of the market. At Uprise Art, on the other hand, we understand that newer collectors might not even know what questions they should be asking or how to make an educated decision. We help collectors every step of the way, from helping them discover artists that interest them, to planning out art for their home that fits within their budget. All artwork in the online gallery arrive framed (where necessary) and ready-to-hang. All the artwork in our “Art Under $800” section also includes shipping, so it’s even easier to start your collection.
We also have an installment plan option, which allows collectors to take the artwork home now, purchasing the work over 10 or 20 months. It’s one additional way we make collecting easier.
How do you discover new artists and choose which ones to add to the Uprise community?
We now represent over 150 artists! We look for artists who have a unique view of the world and a conceptually compelling artistic practice. There are countless artists who can make something beautiful; we’re focused on artists who go one step further and create memorable, meaningful work.
What are your top three tips for someone who is new to buying art or just beginning their collection?
It’s very simple – collect art that you love. There are no rules. You can place a small artwork on a large wall. You can have an eclectic collection that includes all kinds of mediums and styles. The only thing that matters is that the work makes you happy.
The goal is to build a collection that can grow with you, so select artwork that speaks to you rather than what’s popular at the moment. Art is a great investment because of the value it provides you every day, by improving your living space and offering daily inspiration.
Learn as much as you can about the artist. The more you learn about the artist, the artwork’s story, and how it’s made, the more you will connect with the work.
Your company flawlessly combines art and technology. What can we expect from Uprise Art in the future?
Although we’re an online gallery, much of our growth is still based on our ability to advise collectors in a personal way and built strong relationships with our artists. People can still expect the same level of service and curation (if not better) as we continue to grow.
What advice would you give to your younger self and fellow women entrepreneurs?
My biggest piece of advice is to get started, and not wait for everything to be perfect first. It’s much easier to learn about what your customers want once you actually have customers!