Features & Interviews
An Interview with Rory Blain on Sedition Art - the Pioneering Digital Art Platform
Rory Blain is the Director of Sedition Art, an online art gallery focused on digital artworks presented as digital limited editions. Launched in 2011, Sedition Art is a pioneering platform for digital art with a mission to change the art world by introducing a marketplace for collecting and trading art in the digital age. The collection includes a diverse spread of artists ranging from renowned artists such as Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin to emerging artists such as Philip Clemo and Maxim Zhestkov. Their subscription service, Art Stream, allows collectors to access and enjoy all the artworks on the site and create personalised playlists of their favourite digital pieces.
This week, The Artling had the opportunity to speak to Rory on the impetus behind the creation of Sedition Art, current trends in the art industry, and his perspective of the realm of digital art.
My own background has always been in the arts. I started my professional life as a dancer before moving into the bricks and mortar gallery world, and from there to Sedition. My brother Harry actually founded the company and he had the idea quite some time before we could realise it - we had to wait for both screen technology and internet bandwidth to reach a point that allowed for the Sedition 'vision' to be possible.
The main reasons were twofold - we wanted to broaden the audience: remove barriers to entry such as cost and access, and open up engagement in contemporary art to a much wider section of society. We also felt that this particular art form was lagging behind - people have become very used to accessing their music digitally, and also their literature but less so in our world. We wanted to address that.
We certainly have seen a great many changes. I'm not sure there have been many enormous surprises actually - the landscape of digital media is developing very much as we anticipated, even down to many of the innovations we see coming into play - they are rarely appearing out of the blue and we often know what is being worked on before it hits the mainstream. The timing on the other hand is completely unpredictable - the growth of the digital landscape was far slower than we first anticipated, then it accelerated rapidly and now growth is explosive - not just on NFTs but the entire landscape. The biggest surprise of the last decade was undoubtedly Covid, but this is a global change rather than specific to our business.
Working with some of the world's most celebrated artists is a privilege and very much what we exist to do. We aim to present the best of contemporary art and iconic figures are obviously a part of this. There is a natural benefit to both the platform and the artists themselves - well known artists tend to have their own audience already, and Sedition has a big voice and a global presence. We can present them to a much wider audience, and their existing collectors discover other artists and works on the site.
Think about how and where you want it to be seen. Be careful about who you sign up with and how it restricts you. Sedition does not ask for an artist to be exclusive to the platform - quite the opposite. The works themselves do have to be exclusive - it's important to build trust in an artist's market so the same piece can't be available in different formats on different platforms/prices etc.
It seemed like an obvious development. There is a sizeable demographic who prefer the subscription model - just a flat low cost monthly fee for access to everything. Sedition is about the enjoyment of art, not just buying and selling it. This is why we offer a suite of apps and players, and why we are working to improve the coverage and compatibility - we want people to enjoy the artworks as artworks. Art Stream still supports the original collecting model on Sedition however - you can only have a work in your stream on subscription whilst it is still available to buy on the site. When it sells out it is removed from Art Stream. So the only way to permanently keep a work you really like is to buy an edition.
The artist's profile, quality of the work, connection to an event or exhibition we are hosting or involved with. Proven track record on Open Platform, external curator recommendations - there are a great many avenues to being invited to the Curated platform.
The most significant change has been the tipping point of acceptance for digital assets - especially art in digital media. NFTs are obviously the stand out trend at this time, but the pandemic woke people up to the possibilities of art they can access digitally. Many people were in lockdown, stuck with the same four walls - and then discovered they could change those 4 walls every day with a screen or a projector.
We are planning our entry into NFTs, and we are planning a series of immersive physical exhibitions to showcase some of the artists we work with.
We're taking our time to do this - we think NFTs are an excellent development but we want to do this slightly differently, our curatorially-led approach will continue and the art and artist take centre-stage. We'll be making an announcement about our entry into this space shortly.
Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.
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