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Betting on Art with The Auction Collective

For many of us, the world of art is still draped in a vale of ambiguity and status. Art auctions are often showcased in the media as enormous demonstrations of “high-snobriety”, where the bourgeoise raise their heavy batons of wealth to buy artistic creations such as Banksy’s ‘Girl with Balloon’ for USD $1 million.

From what started out as street graffiti to being sold for a million dollars (and being shredded in the process), Banksy’s piece shows us just how tricky the art world can be. So how does the everyday art admirer get on board?

As a self-confessed art lover and creator of The Auction Collective, Tom seized an opportunity to link creators with all types of buyers in a simple, no-fuss manner. His philosophy is simple – exhibitions and auctions are open to everyone, all artistic diversity is embraced, artwork is sold ready to hang, and there’s a 0% buyer commission. It’s a model that comes from the heart of a true art enthusiast, who seems genuinely excited to connect a wide range of buyers with a wide range of talented creators.

We sat down with Tom to see how The Auction Collective has grown, the challenges its faced, and why he decided to adopt a flexible employment strategy.

Why did you form the The Auction Collective?

I wanted to create something simple and fun that would help people buy and sell art. I had so many friends who were keen to buy a work of art but didn’t know where to look, and knew so many artists that were keen to sell but didn’t have a gallery or anyone to represent them. So, I started working with artists to run pop-up exhibitions of lower value artwork that was then auctioned at the end.

The first was really simple. No website, jut an Instagram account, me with a gavel and a credit card reader.  But it was a success and everyone was asking for more so it just evolved from there to become a fully registered organisation with regular auctions, a website, innovative bidding paddles and payment processing.

What are the challenges you have faced along the way?

A lot of auction and art initiatives are moving online or being created online. I believe that when buying art there is nothing better than seeing it in the flesh or anything more fun than bidding in a live auction. But be that as it may, one of the biggest challenges is getting decent venues at reasonable rates – so if anyone is keen to sponsor an auction or needs a clean, house proud, arts tenant then let me know! 

What does the future for The Auction Collective look like?

Exciting. Really exciting. We have two auctions lined up before Christmas. The first is 8 November with ‘Paper|Scissors|Stone’ – an exhibition and auction of works on paper, textiles and sculpture. Then we have ‘Abstract : Reality’, a show in December that will contrast and compare abstract and hyper-realist paintings. 

We also have plans to run pop-ups outside London and another development of the technology to make it even easier for people to buy art - watch this space!

What made you choose use the GIG app?

Each show has an exhibition, auction and drinks reception but we are a small team and so we need to bring in extra people to help run the evening. The skills needed vary from welcoming guests and serving drinks to collecting artwork and processing payments. The GIG app let us drill down into the different roles needed and to attract the best and most suited team members to help.

As an organisation we are keen on transparency in business, which chimed with the GIG mentality, so it was an easy choice.

How was your experience with the GIG Seekers?

Great! The team were really enthusiastic and keen to get stuck in. We had a briefing session before the event started for introductions and a rundown of what was to come.

Then everyone jumped to it. I was really impressed at the work attitude and ease at which the team worked together. I must admit, I was a little nervous about this as I had never met them before and they were about to be acting as the face of the organisation – if the night went wrong the reputation of the organisation could be seriously damaged. But by the end of the night, they had done a great job and we were all very impressed!

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