We’re excited to announce the public launch of the Cohart community. We’ve been heads down, building this community for over two years. We’ve had the privilege of building with your feedback guiding us along the way. If you were early, you might remember our 1-1 user interviews, founders talks, clubhouse sessions, or curation experiments. On behalf of the team, we would like to thank all the community members who supported us from day one. After all these experiments, we’re buttoning everything up and getting ready to re-enter the internet ~scene~ with our public network launch and new product.
If you just landed here, welcome! We’re eager to share more about what we’re working on here and welcome you as part of the journey.
We’ve focused our careers on building community and fostering accessibility in the art world. Shyevin built a publishing house, an art school, and an industry-defining gallery in Southeast Asia. She presents at top art fairs like Art Basel and sells art in acclaimed auction spaces like Sotheby’s. She’s worked cross-functionally as a multi-faceted entrepreneur in the art industry and facilitates upwards of 100 multi-million dollar sales annually (she’s kind of a big deal).
Then there’s me, Kendall. I curated & built immersive, traveling art shows attracting hundreds of thousands of people in secondary markets throughout the US. I’ve also curated and produced shows at contemporary museums, but also in public parks, coworking spaces, lobbies, and even baseball stadiums throughout international hubs like Montreal, Mexico, and Shanghai.
As women in the art world who pride themselves on amplifying the voices and scaling the impact of the artists in our worlds, we’ve seen and lived the reality that the art world was never built to be accessible. There are two art worlds: the tiny fraction of galleries and artists at the top that make all the money, then the other world (much larger in size) but with artists and gallerists who can barely afford rent.
We’re passionate about changing this paradigm. We are shedding light on how things work today and proposing a new solution for how things can work tomorrow.
When we think of art today, we tend to think of Jeff Koons, $69M Beeple sales, white wall galleries, MFA degrees, and confusing wall text. We feel like we don’t know how much to spend on art, we don’t know what we like, and we don’t know where to start. It’s hard to understand how art can fit into our lives.
Despite the democratizing NFT boom, the web2 social world prying open the door to art discovery, and a new generation of us entering the market, it still feels like our invitation to the art world got lost in the mail.
But were we ever really invited in the first place? Traditional intermediaries control today's art market, which is only accessible via exclusive, ultra-high-net-worth networks. The people who are the gatekeepers are not incentivized to open the door because the system works quite well for them to keep making more money today.
The art network was always designed to stay small and insular – artists derive prestige and value from associations with specific galleries, museums, and notable collectors. The prestige and value of these specific galleries and museums stem from the perceived importance of the artists they represent. It’s a continual ring of interdependencies. The value of a network matters more than the value of their art.
There is no incentive to change it – the system works quite well for the people in control to make more money. Galleries take ~50-70%+ of sales from artists. Collectors sit on museum boards and donate their work to promote their artists to create more exposure, so the value appreciates. If a work doesn’t sell at an auction, collectors or galleries will often buy the work back at a higher price. All prestige in the art world is subjective, moving through these high-net-worth circles, and within this interdependent ring, value is created. Money holds this ring together.
As a result, “making it” as an artist is nearly impossible – there are only a handful of institutions that determine if an artist makes it in the art world (New York’s MoMA, Guggenheim, Gagosian Gallery, Art Institute of Chicago, Tate, Centre Pompidou, and Reina Sofia) – and only 227 artists ever end in these high prestige institutions (out of 17M working artists).
As a result, for those who cannot access the legacy elite art market, our interest in art discovery is re-directed to:
Accessible, generalized social platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn –87% of us use Instagram to discover art today, with over half of these collectors buying art this platform. But platforms like Instagram were never designed for art discovery. There are no tools to adequately showcase art, build community, spark meaningful connections, or buy/sell with confidence.
Static online product marketplaces don’t engage any sense of community – Presenting a piece of art as a static jpeg is not how art was meant to be discovered. Where is the story? Where is the brand? Where is the trust? And as collectors, we’re left with no social signals to understand where to direct our purchasing power.
We’re taking a bottoms-up approach to establish a new art world. Cohart is a network of artists, curators, and collectors, bringing the experience and joy of art collecting to the masses. The network is built on foundations of collective ownership and transparency to maintain aligned incentives between artists, curators, and collectors.
In the network, artists tell their own stories to build their brands (independent of intermediaries), while collectors use socially fueled taste-making tools to discover art they love. The journey is guided by a series of milestones and will culminate in community membership to unlock experiences that have historically been reserved for the 0.1%. As a result, more people will make a living off their art, and more people will confidently call themselves art collectors.
We invite you to join us. We will present our first set of community onboarding experiences at Seed Club demo day this Friday, December 16th. You can RSVP here:
If you aren’t a crypto wallet holder, please sign up for email updates on our website, and we will send you an onboarding email this weekend for future onboarding cohorts.
Kendall & the co❤️ team