The Art Cycle: art as part of the circular economy
In June 2018, Julie GUEUDET, a graduate of IÉSEG and passionate about art, founded ‘The Art Cycle’ – an online art gallery offering artworks for rent, lease and sale.
How was ‘The Art Cycle’ concept born?
As the daughter of an artist and with an entrepreneurial spirit, I had the idea to start an art rental business while I was studying at IÉSEG. My mother is a painter and she always had many paintings in her studio. I used to regularly select a few of them to decorate my Parisian apartment, but I thought it was a shame that so many of them were left piled up in boxes without anyone being able to admire them. This situation is similar for almost all artists: they often have many pieces of art that remain at home, invisible to the public eye. Some artists do not wish to sell them and prefer to keep them, others have not yet had the time or the opportunity to present them in a gallery. Based on this observation, I decided to offer artists the possibility of becoming better known while earning a small income thanks to the rental option. This makes art accessible to more people. Finally, by making space in their studio, artists also free their mind and can make room for new ideas and develop their creativity.
I did my internship at EY, and that’s when the idea of ‘The Art Cycle’ came to my mind. Indeed, my internship in auditing allowed me to fully understand how a company works, in all its aspects, and this reinforced my idea that I had the necessary skills and knowledge to launch my own start-up.
How does ‘The Art Cycle’ work and how is it different from other art galleries?
It is an online platform listing more than 130 artists and 2,500 artworks. Painting, photography, sculpture, drawing, digital art, there is something for everyone. We offer options of purchase, rental to renew one’s interior or leasing to acquire the piece after a certain period of time. We are currently the only ones to offer the latter at the same cost as a direct purchase. On the other hand, we take a lower commission than most art galleries.
Everything happens online: customers can identify the artists they are interested in and find all the information about each work on the website. The prices displayed on our site are the same as those on the artist’s website, and the shipping costs are covered, so customers do not have to pay extra.
How did you get your name out there and what are your challenges as an entrepreneur?
The beginnings are always tough, as it takes time to gain visibility and trust with artists, some of whom just don’t like dealing with galleries. I used Instagram a lot, which is widely used in the art community. I contacted artists directly via this tool and thanks to this, I managed to launch the platform in June 2018 with 15 artists listed. Today, there are over 130! This beautiful progression was made possible thanks to word-of-mouth, in particular; the artists we work with recommend us to their contacts. Now, we no longer have to contact the artists, they come to us directly with their requests.
I like to be close to the artists, so I always want to talk to them over the phone to convey the values of ‘The Art Cycle’ and to make sure they share the same innovative vision and willingness to do things differently. We regularly propose creative events to showcase the artworks available on the platform, and I regularly check with the artists to see if they have any suggestions. We recently held an exhibition in Paris with live painting sessions hosted by three artists: Valérie Grondet, Haleixendre and Madame Dessine. Each of them was able to show their universe and their way of working to the public. As part of this exhibition, we also had a parade of artworks on the street, which attracted the curiosity and interest of many passersby.
Today, one of the main challenges we face is the conversion time. It takes an average of six months for a customer to decide to “act” and buy or rent a work that caught their eye. Customer loyalty is also an issue because many people, after discovering an artist they liked on the platform, want to deal with them directly.
How did your experience at IÉSEG and with the IÉSEG Incubator help you with your project?
The Grande École program at IÉSEG allows you to acquire solid knowledge in various fields and to be open to many different subjects. As an entrepreneur, you have to know how to manage all sectors: finance, human resources, communication… Today, I use the notions I acquired during my studies, especially those I learned in the entrepreneurship course and during my internships.
I joined the IÉSEG Incubator in January 2018, which helped me a lot. I needed to be challenged by other entrepreneurs. It’s not easy to start a business alone, and the exchanges with other young entrepreneurs with similar issues to mine kept me motivated and reassured me. The workshops offered by the Incubator with professionals on different themes are also very enriching and help us to address certain issues that affect us all. The IÉSEG ecosystem is really beneficial and allows you to feel surrounded. Without all this, I would certainly not be where I am today.
Discover ‘The Art Cycle’: www.theartcycle.fr