Artsy CMO Everette Taylor: ‘I want to help democratize the art world’

“If you had told the 15-year-old that I would help run an art company, I would never have believed you. I come from Southside, Richmond, Virginia. It’s a hood. Many people in the art world come from privileged backgrounds where they grew up with art. I accidentally fell into it. I peeked behind the veil, but then when I peeked, I thought, ‘I’m coming in.’ “

I’m talking to Everette Taylor, Marketing Director of Artsy, one of the largest global online art markets. Over coffee at the members ’club in SoH, New York, we talk about his passion for work and the arts in general. Taylor joined Artsy in December 2019 after, as he puts it, “just a year and a half in the real art world”. Last month, Forbes included him on its list of the 50 most enterprising CMOs.

As we talk, it becomes obvious that for Taylor being a CMO Artsy is more than a job. He is now 32 years old, he recalls when he first saw art in the home of someone his age, in his twenties, and his collecting journey. “That moment of placing a work of art in your home for the first time. . . it’s like when a light bulb comes on. Now I feel like I see something new every time I walk into my home. Art tells me. I spent much of my life living alone. But every piece in my collection has a personal story, so I never feel alone with art. ”

In the beginning, collecting was not an easy process for him. He saw the side of the art world that plagued him and prompted him to consider how to make accessing and buying art less difficult and intimidating for art novices – and for people who looked like him.

The picture shows a black man with strong skin patterns wearing a white hat and a T-shirt with his hands in his pockets, standing against a background of greenery and cactus

Amoako Boafo’s ‘Cactus’ (2022), from Taylor’s collection © Courtesy of Mariane Ibrahim

“I saw a lot of inequality, what it was like to be a black collector, which inspired me to start one of my companies, ArtX. It was not clear to me why, if I had money for something and if it was available, I could not be the one to buy it. I saw a door guard system that wasn’t set up for new people to break through. Just because I was a young black man walking into galleries in his street clothes and maybe some Yeezy, people would look at me like, ‘This guy isn’t serious.’

So Taylor began to gather new artists. “I started collecting works by artists like Amoako Boafo and Jadé Fadojutimi. Now I have a collection that I have because I trusted my eye and instincts. ”

Artsy, launched in October 2012, is a private company with ownership extended to founders, investors and employees. Now, Taylor says, it displays more than a million works of art by 100,000 or more artists worldwide; 4,000 art companies, 3,700 galleries and two-thirds of the leading auction houses collaborate with Artsy.

Semi-abstract image in green, blue, turquoise and yellow suggests water and flora
Jadé Fadojutimi, ‘Woven Distorted Garden of Thought’ (2021) © Pippy Houldsworth Gallery

“I want to help democratize the art world and create spaces where there is a fairer and more transparent approach for artists and collectors, especially those in color. . . Yes, art has changed my life, but I also know how to run a business. So I don’t just run marketing. I am a very unorthodox CMO, involved in business strategy, products and sales. I solve problems, so if I see something that needs to be solved, I try to solve it. ”

Taylor believes Artsy provides a unique community for artists, buyers, collectors and gallerists that helps people nurture an identity in the art world. Artsy Price Database offers price transparency and free access to data that, he says, helps collectors make smart purchasing decisions.

“While using Artsy, you have the opportunity to tell us your budget, the types of artwork you love, the artists you follow, the auction results you watch, even upload pictures of works from your actual art collection. All of these things are part of an algorithm that becomes more and more personalized every time you use the app. He becomes your personal art advisor.

“We build a bond and community between the collector and the gallery. That allows galleries to thrive because we have millions of people using our platform every month. ”

The picture shows the head, shoulders and chest of a black man lying under a sheet and sleeping with his hand raised on his forehead

‘The Dreaming Man’ by Jerrell Gibbs (2022) © courtesy of Mariana Ibrahim

No business is perfect, and Artsy has its share of mixed reviews online, including critiques of its business model. I start this with Taylor, and while he admits that every job will have its critics, he also says, “Artsy has gone through several iterations and dramatically transformed over the years into a platform that uniquely supports artists, collectors and galleries globally. There is Rejection of many in the industry who do not necessarily want us to open up the art world or have price transparency. ”

Taylor’s instinctively entrepreneurial nature dates back to childhood: he got his first job at the age of 14. “Growing up in Southside, Richmond, I saw everything: gang violence, prostitution, drugs, whatever. I even started selling drugs when I was 13, 14 and I stopped because my mom found drugs in my room and made me get a job. That’s how I really discovered marketing – and marketing saved my life. ”

From there, Taylor will spend the next few years jumping between school and work. After leaving college in his sophomore year to help his family, he started his first business at 19 and then sold it after a few years to return to college. He studied business information technology, before leaving college again to venture into the world of Silicon Valley technology, he quickly became head of marketing at Qualaroo’s consumer research firm. He joined a number of companies to develop them, and he also created his own. To date, Taylor has founded or co-founded six companies and still owns or co-owns four.

The picture shows three black men in front of the building - a man sitting on a bench looking to one side, a woman sitting on a box and looking at a small child standing on his knees;  the child looks straight ahead
Ludovica Nkotha ‘Teacher doesn’t teach me nonsense’ (2022)

“I’ve always had this duality of being a CMO or running a company and having my own thing. At 28, I sold PopSocial, my most successful commercial business. Then I became completely entrepreneurial, launching ArtX as a platform for new artists. We profiled people like Kennedy Yanko, Jerrell Gibbs, Ludovic Nkoth and Genevieve Gaignard ”in the early stages of their careers.

His work at ArtX neatly matched Artsy’s mission. “Many of the things that the then new CEO Mike Steib was trying to achieve were in line with what I was trying to achieve: a fairer, more transparent world of art.

“People buy artwork on our platform invisible at the touch of a button, from $ 100 to $ 1 million. If you live in Louisville, Kentucky and want to be a top collector without leaving home, you can be that now. ”

According to Taylor, during the Artsy pandemic, e-commerce sales grew 150 percent year-over-year, but other than purely commercial, Taylor is proud of the ways the platform helps raise funds to address societal issues. Taylor also says she raised $ 16.5 million for good causes in 2021, and recently held a benefit auction for Ukraine where Marina Abramovic re-staged her performance installation “The Artist is Present.”

Then, Taylor plans to return her love of art to Richmond, Virginia: “I feel like I haven’t invested as much as I could in my community at home. I would like a permanent home and museum for my personal collection of black artists, plus a place for rotating exhibitions of emerging black artists. I want to invest more in my hometown. ”

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