The New Gallery: Chelsea Neman of Tappan Collective
October 30, 2015
The Dreslyn visits Tappan Collective
The words ‘art world’ do not illicit warm and fuzzy feelings. Personally I envision show openings filled with a crowd of people, primarily in all black schemes toting free chardonnay, which isn’t that far from my experience at said events. Then there are the moments I’ll wander into a gallery on the weekend by accident. I don’t do this by accident because I don’t enjoy looking at art. I would go as far to say that I deeply enjoy it. I consider it an accident because the setting is intimidating, commonly paired with a well-groomed man in a corner, well versed in the prices and methodology of scouting who is there to browse and who is there to buy. The pressure of purchase, as well as the lack of knowledge about most artists’ shows you might stumble upon are quite similar to the reasons we prefer online shopping as opposed to the traditional brick-and-mortar. The online sphere gives you time to learn about what you are buying before putting in your order, with 24 hour convenience. Enter Tappan Collective, an online gallery representing over 50 artists, selling their art, sharing their story and giving them global exposure.
“People spend time reading the interviews we have up on the site and get to see the artist in their space. In a traditional gallery you have the white cube and the work that is supposed to speak for itself. You’re intimidated to ask questions. We want transparency and education. We feature the artist and make them apart of the experience when buying their work, because you’re truly connecting to them when you purchase your piece,” said Chelsea Neman, founder of the online space.
Their concept is unique, as art was one of the last industries to take up commerce space online. While other sites may sell higher-end and more mainstream artists, Neman is looking for new talent when choosing people to curate and collaborate with.
“We focus on emerging artists right out of art school, fresh off their B.A. or M.A. programs. It’s also how we keep our collection very accessible. Aside from price, it’s where they are in their journey as artists. They are a lot more open and willing, and really enjoy the interaction with the clients,” said Neman.
It’s the mix of passionate artists just starting out and the youthful appeal of their business model that is gaining notice from the same group of people tired of mass-produced goods under unfair labor practices. Where past generations were conditioned to trust large-scale business monopolies and brand names, there is now a backpedaling toward artisan goods and small-scale practices when it comes to how we shop. Much like the designers we carry who are making things on a smaller scale to be considered sustainable and top-quality, Neman’s success with collectors, especially the younger buyers, could be highly attributed to the trend.
“I think our generation is so exposed to the quick and dirty that they value unique things and pieces that are set apart. I think millenials are much more experienced based and way less consumer oriented than the generations before. They want less stuff, and we’ve pared down to good quality items. There is an element of identity in what we own now. We don’t just want something for any purpose. We want it to speak to us,” said Neman.
“I think our generation wants to support artisans. Our parents' generation trusted corporations and bigger companies, but we’re more likely to support people pursing their passions and doing something different,” said Taylor Cassidy, Marketing & Digital Strategist at Tappan.
And to pursue those passions, you need someone to believe and invest in your work. Instead of reaching for convenience and the easiest option, people are finding value in items that took longer work hours and creativity. Yet, the Internet age is the era of convenience, if not in what, then in when and whom. Google could be considered a god by definition. The Internet being the saturated space it is allows for mass exposure as well as a place to be submerged and hard to find.
“I think it’s a double-edged sword in that it provides so much accessibility and visibility of product but it also makes you one of the many... Though it’s harder to stand out, you have so much more opportunity. The ability to see more inspiration and have so much more exposure to different cultures allows, for example, someone from the Midwest to be fascinated with Japanese calligraphy. There is this blend and its such an opportunity,” said Neman.
While I can repeat my observance to the burgeoning art scene of Los Angeles, the stereotype remains that New York is the place you go as a fine artist. Maybe it’s because of the tougher economic landscape that forces you to remain in the grind, or maybe it’s the societal expectation that it’s still the locale for success. Tappan Collective chose it’s base in Downtown Los Angeles because it’s model didn’t fit that scheme.
“The art world in general is an incredible and unique world. In New York, the path to success is a little more traditional. There is more history, limited landscape, and limited galleries. In LA there is a lot more room both mentally and physically to try something new,” said Neman.
Past the location, Neman is observing a newness in the art world that is allowing for different industries and groups of people to enjoy and access are in their preferred or familiar forms.
“I think our generation wants to support artisans. Our parents' generation trusted corporations and bigger companies, but we’re more likely to support people pursing their passions and doing something different ”
“I think how the art scene is opening up. All the industries are integrating art and there is so much more access to people’s work. I like that it’s more a part of the collective consciousness. Because of the Internet it’s not this untouchable super-intimidating place. Because of our pop-ups and interviews people are responding well and want to start collecting younger. It’s a big change,” said Neman.
Those of us that have been intimidates to take a peak behind the perverbial curtain of the “scene” may find that the looking process as well as our ability to become involved is much more at our fingertips. I asked Neman what her tips were for those wanting to build a repertoire with the culture.
“I think joining museums and going to gallery openings are a great start. Getting your feet wet and getting involved in your local art scene is something most people have access to. Online, once you find artists you like, follow their practice and their work. It’s a great way to feel really invested when you finally do buy something it becomes part of the journey,” said Neman.