Stepstone Art Resources, LLC opening a new frontier of “Cultural Commerce”
NEW YORK — Stepstone Art Resources, LLC (STAR) recently completed the acquisition of its first two properties and has publicly relaunched see.me, a global platform for artists and art enthusiasts.
Organized two years ago, STAR is creating a trans-continental platform connecting the art and cultural world’s online community of artists, art enthusiasts and patrons with high-quality commercial and experiential opportunities.
The acquisition of venture-backed see.me and boomboomprints.com, formerly a TechStars company, positions STAR to create a global virtual infrastructure that will couple the positive creative energy art brings to the world to an economic model that empowers artists to pursue their passion in a viable, consistent and sustainable way.
STAR founder & CEO, Brendan Burns said, “We are responding to the significant global increase in influence and importance that has accrued to art fairs over the past few years. The parallel growth trend in social media and digital channels has certainly created potential for greater exposure for artists and access for their fans, but until now there has been no platform to integrate and leverage the spectrum of channels in a way that tangibly benefits emerging artists across the globe.”
Toward this end, Burns, former CEO at 1000Museums.com and a professor at Columbia Business School, acquired two existing e-businesses: see.me, one of the largest online networks for visual artists and fans with more than 1 million subscribers; and boomboomprints.com, which offers products from textiles to housewares that feature the work of fine artists.
STAR is a recent convergence of established investors and influencers in the digital and real world art space.
“Each of these companies attracted top tier investors such as Ron Conway/SV Angels, Betaworks, Box Group and Founders Collective (among others) and achieved valuable initial traction within their respective market lanes,” said Burns. “Today’s art enthusiasts are a diverse lot, and they want to show off the art they identify with and appreciate in new, non-traditional ways. This obviously creates new, non-traditional opportunities for artists — we want to empower them to convert these opportunities in a way that is consistent with their values and respects the integrity of the work.”
“In the case of see.me, what you have is the epicenter of a world-wide art community — people who admire and appreciate art and people who create it. We have artists from more than 50 countries around the world and have curated well-received and well-attended exhibitions in Miami, New York, the Louvre and the White House. This critical mass of makers and enthusiasts provides a head start to our ultimate destination — a global virtual platform where artists and fans can both interact and transact in a variety of new, unique and mutually beneficial ways,” said Burns.
The STAR team includes art world and digital startup veterans with experience at Corbis, CafeLearn, various galleries and museums along with several key team members who worked with the companies previously. See.me is soft-launching at Art Basel Miami 2017 and plans a larger, public relaunch aligned with Armory Week 2018 in New York during Q1 2018.
“Our collective experience and deep, cross-sectional understanding of the cultural commerce market makes for an ideally fine-tuned perspective. Based on our first-hand success analyzing and shaping consumer behavior in this segment, understanding and meeting the needs and expectations of artists, as well as the unique market-specific practicalities of everything from conversion rates to production and fulfillment requirements to the relevant social media dynamics, I like our chances,” said Burns.