Friend of a Friend
CHELSEA NEMAN FOR FRIEND OF A FRIENDThe art school grad-turned-digital mogul talks starting her own business in college and making art democratic. Plus, how to start your own collection—on a less-than-Gagosian budget.
When did you start collecting art?I started early. Art has always been a passion of mine—before Tappan, I worked as an artist for several years. It’s such an energetic way to bring new ideas and inspiration to a space.
What sparked your interest in painting?I started painting when I was young, and never stopped. It is a huge passion and creative outlet for me. I love the actual process of painting and being in “flow”.
What were some of your favorite artists growing up?Cy Twombly, Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt were the first artists that I obsessed over.
How would you describe your own work? Do you have a signature stroke?The last types of work I was making before I paused to run Tappan were large abstracts. I like clean and meaningful lines—but also being present and directionless while I paint.
How did Tappan Collective come about?I founded Tappan in 2012 with Jordan Klein, a fellow Angeleno and University of Michigan alum—Tappan is actually named after the Tappan Fine Arts library at Michigan. We realized a gap in the art market for emerging artists and young collectors. There were so many young, incredibly talented individuals we found who didn’t have a space to show their work. We knew there were collectors for each…it was just about connecting with them.
What do you look for when you’re working with these artists?There are many factors that go into our decision to work with artists. Most of our artists have graduated top art schools, and are in full pursuit of their career in the arts. We’re looking for artists who are dedicated to their practice.
What should we keep in mind when we’re going to make a first time investment in a piece of art?As always, do your research. Be comfortable asking questions about the artist and their process. Ask yourself, “Why am I drawn to this piece?” Once you start collecting, you’ll become more comfortable with the process and be able to develop your taste.
What’s one thing we should be cautious of?Only spend what you’re comfortable with spending—great art can be bought at any price point. And remember that art is personal. Don’t buy a piece because you think you should: Every collection should be unique.
Why did you choose an online platform over opening a brick and mortar gallery?Traditional galleries are and will always be an important part of the art world. For our market, the internet offers more reach and is much more accessible. Our goal is to make art available to everyone, and an online platform allows us more flexibility in this space.
Where do you see the company going?Tappan has become a go-to for emerging art and we’re really proud of that. As our online presence and success continues to grow, we’ll be exploring new avenues to support each and every one of our artists.
Do you have any physical shop plans in the near future?We always have events on the horizon! We recently collaborated with ELLE and Longchamp to celebrate a group of Tappan artists in New York. We’ll be in Miami during Basel and we have a pop-up scheduled to open in Los Angeles early 2016—details yet to be revealed!
Images by Ali Albright