Part of the Interview Series with ELab Fellows
Robyn Asquini is a recent graduate of Parsons The New School. During her master’s in the SDM program, she sought to better understand how current technology and design thinking could be used to disrupt the art world and make fine art more enjoyable and accessible. Throughout the final year of master’s, Robyn researched, designed, and developed the Art Tap Exchange prototype under the guidance of her studio professors and IDEO Design Leads Jerome Goh and Randy Plemel. In the months after graduation, she has taken her project from an idea and prototype to a registered business, has assembled a small dedicated team, and is creating a website and app set to launch in September. The support of the Parsons community and a large network of artists and buyers has given her a deeper understanding of the challenges surrounding the global art market and how to best solve them. The ELab is proud to have her on board at the Summer Fellows incubation Program at NYDesigns, an opportunity that has facilitated her journey in transitioning from academia into applied practice.
Robyn’s background in art direction and design strategy has given her the tools to create beautiful corporate identities and engaging brand experiences. She is passionate about learning new technologies and creating cross-platform digital, print, and multimedia designs.
Art Tap X aims to unlock gallery doors and break down studio walls (metaphorically, that is) by putting art in the hands of enthusiasts everywhere. The website and app are officially launching this fall. Stay posted by signing up at arttapx.com.
1- How are you finding the fellowship so far?
Amazing! Rhea Alexander has been incredibly helpful in connecting me with experts in different areas. I’ve definitely gained a better understating around starting an art/tech business. The ELab affiliation with NYDesigns has also given me a great network of young entrepreneurs that are starting businesses in similar areas. It’s also wonderful to have a workspace that I can go to daily.
2- What have you gained already from it?
I’ve developed relationships with lawyers, web developers, business and art consultants who have helped in shaping my business model and website. My affiliation with the Parsons ELab and NYDesigns has been invaluable when reaching out to experts in all fields for advice.
3- What are you looking to accomplish through it?
I’m looking to create a solid foundation for launching my business. I hope to refine my business plan and further define long and short-term strategic goals to best support a healthy and steady growth for all Art Tap Exchange retail channels, and hopefully make Art Tap Exchange more attractive to investors and venture capitalists.
4- What resources do you think are missing in your fellowship path towards success?
I think it goes without saying that starting a company is a huge time commitment and financial investment. It would be incredibly helpful to have a little seed funding, maybe a few thousand dollars, to keep me focused on my goals. I’m willing to give up equity to Parsons in exchange.
On a scale from 1 to 10, rate the networking opportunities at NYDesigns.
5- Did you achieve financial and business progress?
Yes! I’m in the process of developing an MVP and have created a solid business plan. I’ve developed relationships with professionals whose services I will continue to use. Lastly, I’ve been given the opportunity to apply for other fellowships/incubators that may help further the success of Art Tap Exchange.
6- On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your level of satisfaction with the Fellowship Program.
7- Give ELab feedback. What can we work on improving?
It would be great to have affiliations with other institutions, specifically business schools, like Columbia or NYU. I have several friends who graduated from Columbia that are working at startups. Founders with strong design and/or technology backgrounds Parsons may benefit from partnerships with more business-focused MBA students. Similarly, MBA grads could benefit from a partnership with design students. Also, a little seed funding would go a long way.
Awesome news for you Robyn and future fellows, the ELab is already working on those points you raised in your feedback. Thank you for your time!
Stay tuned to the ELab news and interview series, future preparatory workshops, and application processes.
More about ART Tap X
Our idea was born from two related problems. First, emerging and professional artists want to spend time doing what they do best — creating. But existing online platforms or galleries, which claim to offer a solution to the sales and marketing needs of artists, are either diluted with amateur work, connecting to the wrong audience, taking a massive cut of sales, or forcing artists into a restrictive contract limiting their freedom to create and sell as they please.
On the flip side, art enthusiasts who don’t have much experience buying artwork are often intimidated by galleries, have difficulty finding work they connect with, and find themselves unable to satisfy a genuine desire to learn about, enjoy, and feel part of a broad artistic community. By creating an alternative to the gallery environment, we are giving an entryway for a whole new market of people that may have previously been unfamiliar and uninterested in the fine art world.
We started Art Tap Exchange as a solution, introducing an alternative to the market.
Art Tap Exchange allows professional artists to represent themselves by uploading their own profiles and work, connecting them with a targeted audience of art buyers who appreciate their unique art. By foregoing traditional gallery walls, Art Tap Exchange can offer quality art at a much more affordable price compared to traditional galleries, while taking a more reasonable commission. Unlike most online platforms, Art Tap Exchange is a curated marketplace. The platform will disrupt the current mid-priced fine art market by connecting art lovers to talented artists of varying backgrounds and styles that they are unlikely to discover otherwise, while welcoming the uninitiated to the art community.