“If you told me at 15 that I would help run an art business, I never would have believed you. I’m from Southside, Richmond, Virginia. That’s the hood. A lot of people in the art world come from privileged backgrounds where they grew up with art. I fell into it by chance. I peeked behind the veil, but when I peeked, I thought, “I’m going in.”
I speak to Everette Taylor, Marketing Director of Artsy, one of the largest online art marketplaces in the world. Over coffee at a members club in SoHo, New York, we discuss his passion for his work and the arts in general. Taylor joined Artsy in December 2019 after, he says, “having only been in the art world for a year and a half”. Last month, he was included by Forbes in its list of the 50 most enterprising CMOs.
As we talk, it becomes clear that, for Taylor, being CMO of Artsy is more than just a job. Now 32, he recalls the first time he saw art in someone his age, in his twenties, and his journey as a collector. “That moment of putting up a piece of art in your home for the first time . . . it’s like when the light bulb goes on. Now I feel like every time I walk in my house, I see something new. Art speaks to me. Much of my life has been spent living alone. But each piece in my collection has a personal story, so I never feel quite alone with art.
Initially, he did not find collecting to be an easy process. He saw a side of the art world that troubled him and prompted him to think about how to make accessing and buying art less difficult and intimidating for those new to art – and for people who looked like him.
“I saw a lot of inequality, of what it was like to be a black collector, which inspired me to start one of my businesses, ArtX. I couldn’t understand why, if I had the money for something and it was available I couldn’t be the one buying it I saw an access control system that is not in place to allow new people to break in Just because I was a young black guy walking around galleries in my streetwear and maybe a few Yeezys, people were looking at me like, ‘This guy isn’t serious.’
So Taylor began collecting emerging artists. “I started collecting works by artists like Amoako Boafo and Jadé Fadojutimi. Now I have the collection I have because I trusted my eye and my instincts.
Artsy, launched in October 2012, is a private company with ownership split between founders, investors and employees. Now, says Taylor, it features more than a million works of art from more than 100,000 artists around the world; 4,000 art businesses, 3,700 galleries and two-thirds of major auction houses engage with Artsy.
“I want to help democratize the art world and create spaces where there is more equitable and transparent access for artists and collectors, especially those of color. . . Yes, art has changed my own life but I also know how to run a business so I’m not just marketing I’m a very unorthodox CMO involved in business strategy, product and sales I’m a problem solver so if I see something that needs to be solved, I try to solve it.
Taylor believes Artsy offers a unique community for artists, buyers, collectors and gallery owners that helps people cultivate an identity in the art world. Artsy Price Database offers price transparency and free access to data that he says helps collectors make smart buying decisions.
“When you use Artsy, you have the ability to tell us your budget, the types of artwork you like, the artists you follow, the auction results you watch, even upload images of artwork of your current art collection. All of these things are part of an algorithm that becomes more and more personalized each time you use the app. It becomes your personal art advisor.
“We build a connection and a community between the collector and the gallery. This allows galleries to thrive as we have millions of people using our platform every month. »
No company is perfect, and Artsy has its share of mixed reviews online, including criticism of its business model. I talk to Taylor about it, and while he acknowledges that every company is going to have its detractors, he also says, “Artsy has gone through several iterations and transformed dramatically over the years into a platform that supports unique artists, collectors and galleries. globally. The is reluctance from many industry players who don’t necessarily want us to open up the art world or have price transparency.
Taylor’s instinctively entrepreneurial nature dates back to his childhood: he got his first job at age 14. “Growing up in Southside, Richmond, I saw it all: gang violence, prostitution, drugs, etc. I even started selling drugs when I was 13, 14 and quit because my mom found drugs in my room and forced me to get a job. That’s really how I discovered marketing – and marketing saved my life.
From there, Taylor would spend the next few years jumping between school and work. After dropping out of college in his second year to help support his family, he started his first business at 19, then sold it after a few years to return to college. He studied business information technology, before dropping out of college again to try his hand at the tech world in Silicon Valley, quickly becoming a marketing executive at user research firm Qualaroo. He joined a series of companies to develop them while creating his own. To date, Taylor has founded or co-founded six companies and owns or co-owns four.
“I’ve always had this duality of being a CMO or running a business while having my own thing. At 28, I sold PopSocial, my most successful business venture. Then I became an entrepreneur on my own whole, I started ArtX as a platform for emerging artists, and we profiled people like Kennedy Yanko, Jerrell Gibbs, Ludovic Nkoth, and Genevieve Gaignard” early in their careers.
His work at ArtX was a perfect fit with Artsy’s mission. “A lot of the things the new CEO at the time, Mike Steib, was trying to accomplish matched what I was trying to accomplish: a fairer, more transparent art world.
“People buy art on our platform without seeing them at the push of a button, from $100 to millions of dollars. If you live in Louisville, Kentucky and want to be a premier collector plan without leaving your home, you can be now.
According to Taylor, during the pandemic, Artsy’s e-commerce sales grew 150% year-over-year but, beyond purely commercial, Taylor is proud of the way the platform helps collect funds to solve social problems. Taylor also says she raised $16.5 million for good causes in 2021 and recently held an auction for Ukraine in which Marina Abramović re-enacted her performance installation, “The Artist Is Present.”
Next, Taylor plans to bring her love of the arts back to Richmond, Virginia: “I feel like I haven’t invested as much as I could have in my community back home. I would like a permanent home and museum for my personal collection of black artists, as well as a place to hold rotating exhibitions of emerging black artists. I want to invest more in my home town.