Industry insider Adam Fields seeks to facilitate the world of art shipping through his new business, Arta.
You left the online auction house Artspace to create Arta, a business addressing the inefficiencies in art shipping. Can you tell us more about that?
Definitely. While developing the operation and logistics for Artspace.com, it became obvious that the process of getting quotes and connecting with art shippers was problematic for both online and offline purveyors or art along with collectors, museums, auction houses, etc. My new business Arta aims to address these inefficiencies. Arta is a city in Greece that in ancient times was the centre for mercantile shipping.
What inspired you to make this career move?
I’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and enjoy solving problems. I think the art world is a bit antiquated and there are many problems that can be solved via technology and innovative thinking. It’s fun to take it on and think I’m positioned well to do so.
How important is shipping to the art market?
It’s super important but at the same time it’s a part of the art world that isn’t really sexy and doesn’t get that much attention, unless something bad happens. Pieces are shipped for a variety of reasons, not just because of sales and transactions, and always need to get to the destination safe and sound. This creates major headaches for registrars, collectors, museums, etc. who have a lot going on and really just want the trade to be complete.
Is there a niche in the industry that you are trying to fill?
The shipping industry is already a robust and profitable industry, but one that is quite fragmented. I’m trying to help bring it online and consolidate everything.
Are there certain companies that are easier to work with than others?
Each entity in the artworld presents a new set of challenges, but it’s more about what is being shipped that who is shipping. We welcome the opportunity to work with every company.
Do you still have to follow the art market itself?
I’m still involved in the art world on a personal level and enjoy collecting, attending openings, etc. It’s a little harder now that my day-to-day is less on the market and more on the logistics but I still have a decent handle on what’s going on. With that said, things happen so quickly that it can be difficult to stay plugged in.
What artists inspire you the most?
All artists inspire me. I’m continually amazed by their distinct visions, creativity and attention to detail. There’s nothing better than visiting an artists studio and hearing them describe their work and process.
Do you collect art?
I do. I started collecting a few years ago and am focused on Chicago artists, which is where I am from, particularly those that are exploring their medium and process. My collection features Chicago artists Rashid Johnson, Tony Lewis, Paul Cowan and Angel Otero. They are all young as every artist I collect is under 40.
Is there anything you collect other than art?
Not really, but I still have time. At least I graduated from collecting Absolute Vodka ads in my younger years to collecting contemporary art.
How do you perceive the art shipping market evolving over time?
I compare it to the air travel industry but it’s about 20 years behind. It will eventually evolve to a point where it is all online with more transparency and efficiency along with better pricing and service for everyone involved.