Tze Chun is the founder of online art gallery Uprise Art. Tze capitalized on the simple connectedness that the internet infuses, to make a traditional activity like the buying and selling of art more accessible to all. Uprise Art turned five years old this summer and in the course of 5 years, has grown as a forward-thinking business within a traditional industry.
Uprise Art is an online art gallery for the next generation of collectors. Whether you’re a seasoned art collector or a newbie when it comes to art/art collection, Uprise Art’s helps you find the perfect artwork for your home or office. It is a heartwarming and enchanting gallery that encourages & enables you to live with Art at your own pace and price!
We spoke with Tze Chun about how she built Uprise Art and why. She also shared her thoughts on issues surrounding Art collection and the general ‘artmosphere’.
Ladies(and gentlemen)! Meet Tze Chun.
For Creative Girls: Tell us about your journey/story before you started Uprise Art.
I moved from Massachusetts to NYC at age 18 to attend Columbia University. After graduating with a double major in Dance and American Studies, with a focus on Contemporary American Art, I stayed in the city and founded Tze Chun Dance Company. It seemed like a natural next step. I had produced several dance performances in college and also had a small business for two years through an entrepreneurship program at Columbia. Then, in 2011—while still serving as Artistic Director of the dance company—I moved back to the visual arts and launched Uprise Art.
Why did you start Uprise Art?
In 2010, the visual art world was finally opening up to the internet: galleries were placing more content online, web platforms for artists to sell work were booming, and art fairs and auction houses were starting to venture into e-commerce. It was the perfect time to test out an idea for an online gallery. I noticed that my friends in NYC were still living with empty walls, even though a few blocks away amazing artists were creating and exhibiting works and actively looking for an audience.
Traditional art galleries can be hard to navigate and at times intimidating, so I started Uprise Art to make collecting original art by living artists easy and more accessible. There were a few companies selling affordable prints at the time, but not many options for curated original art. I launched Uprise Art with eleven artists, almost all of whom I had been following and admired, and approached cold. Luckily, a few studio visits, coffee dates, and phone conversations later, they warmed up to the idea of taking a chance on a new gallery. That’s the great thing about being an online gallery. The website does more than merely showcase the artwork; it tells the story of the artist. My team and I are here in New York working with amazing contemporary artists, and anyone around the world can view the art and learn about these artists’ stories.
Art and Tech used to seem like parallel lines, but now we see a lot of confluence. In your opinion what has led to this confluence and synergy?
With so many visual platforms (Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.), people are more accustomed to seeing visual information. The idea of curating and collecting (even if only through online boards and feeds) is now more accessible. The Internet has made it much easier to learn about art from all over the world and, as a gallery owner, to give artists exposure to a much larger audience.
Entrepreneurship in Art, what do you see changing in a few years?
Millennials are forecasted to spend $1.4 trillion annually by 2020 and to inherit $30 billion in the years afterward, according to the New York Times. Clearly, there’s a prime opportunity to entice the newest class of art buyers. Uprise Art aims to tap into the art-buying aspirations of these millennials. The website provides approachable opportunities to purchase art pieces—ranging from $100 to $10,000—including through installment plans.
A lot of artists and creative people in general, find it hard to profit from their art and talent, what’s your advice for people in this phase?
Decide what your time is worth. It might be uninspiring to crunch numbers, but at the end of the day, if art is going to be your livelihood, you owe it to yourself to think about how much money you need to make to support yourself and to evaluate if that is a realistic goal.
How did you get your first set of clients and get people to embrace your non-traditional structure?
I had to build relationships and win trust through conversations, and over time.
How do you connect with new artists to get their work up on Uprise Art?
We now represent more than 150 artists! We look for artists who have a unique view of the world and a conceptually compelling artistic practice. There are lots of artists who can make something beautiful; we’re focused on artists who go one step further and create memorable, meaningful work.
What’s your definition of creativity?
Seeing the world differently, and creating ways for others to share your vision.
What’s your daily routine like?
Each day is different. Often my days involve art consultations for collectors, studio visits with artists, meetings with my team, and a yoga or dance class.
What tips do you have for women aspiring to be Gallerists/Curators?
The best advice I can give young entrepreneurs is simply to keep asking for advice. Before I launched, I asked for introductions, met with everyone I could who was an entrepreneur or working in the online and offline art space, and solicited advice from everyone.
Can you tell us about three women that inspire you and resources/websites that you love?
– Jess Peterson from Hatch. She’s created a wonderful community of entrepreneurial
– I love reading interviews on OK Real.
– Jen Wink Hays. She’s an incredibly kind person, dedicated mother, and inspiring artist.