Bislacchi, October 2017

The first time I met Natasha Arselan was at the Slade School of Fine Art MA Degree Show last June. She was passing by when she saw my face in front of hers and she paused, asking “Are you Bislacchi?”. Since then, we have been talking regularly and I invited her to visit my studio; after many attempts to meet up failed (Natasha is so busy!) we managed to bump into each other again at another degree show, this time at City & Guilds of London Art School. It was here that we properly got talking and finally arranged to meet to discuss AucArt, Natasha’s start-up that launched on December 1st.

BislacchiAaaaah! Natasha Arselan, a name I’m hearing often. Finally, we get to chat! How do you feel about the launch of AucArt?

Natasha ArselanReally, you are? I am trying not to feel but just think pragmatically, staying focused at this crucial moment. I feel very passionately about AucArt’s mission to promote talented early career artists, allowing them to support themselves through their artistic practice. This has been a driving factor through the journey so far. 


B: The “first online auction house to exclusively consign early career contemporary art”. Can you explain a bit more?


NA: AucArt offers contemporary artworks on behalf of artists within their final year of both BAs and MAs, up until three years after they have graduated, to collectors. All auctions are capped with a fixed price (‘buy now’) to protect the artist’s market.


B: That sounds very interesting. I’d be interested to learn more about your background. You were born in the UK. Where did you grow up? 


NA: In Essex, then moved to North London at 16 to attend musical theatre school. 


B: Were you interested in art as a child? Do you think there’s anything from your childhood that led you into this career? 

Natasha Arselan in Michal Raz’s Studio, 2017 

Image Courtesy of Natasha Arselan, AucArt and Michal Raz.

Left: Joseph Grahame, The University of Leeds Graduate 

Everything disperses and escapes, 2017

Oil, Acrylic, Charcoal, Oil Stick, Dirt, Treated Fabric, Graphite, Canvas

Courtesy: AucArt

Above: Liam Fallon, Manchester Metropolitan University Graduate


Courtesy: AucArt

"I like to think that AucArt brings back the joy of discovery"

NA: My parents took me to museums as a child, yes sure, but I loved ballet, I loved the narrative through the musical score, the costumes. I believe this encouraged my curiosity, I think elements of abstract thinking, perception, colours and subconscious emotive narratives then transpired in my late teens and was explored through fine art.


B: Is there too much tech in the world?


NA: I think the imagination is the most important part of the brain, with overwhelming use of tech these days, sadly it is being neglected. We are fed too much information, there is less impetus on exploring, everything is too instant, it gives the mind no time to fantasize. I like to think that AucArt brings back the joy of discovery. 


B: It was during your time at King’s College that the idea for AucArt began to form. How did this arise?


NA: AucArt is my solution to problems that I observed in the art world at the time, one that many people talk about - artists supporting themselves through their art - not just at the peak of their career, but from the very beginning. With this I wanted to create a transparent system so prices were the same for all clients. The artist knows how much their work is selling for (also receiving the majority of the sale amount), and I wanted to create an access point for those unable to start collecting because a gallery has inflated the price of an artist to cover overheads.

Natasha Arselan in Michal Raz’s Studio, 2017 

Image Courtesy of Natasha Arselan, AucArt and Michal Raz.

NA: I’m impressed you’ve been following me so closely. This summer was crazy. I tried to get to the top 30 art schools around the country (Glasgow was one of them). I managed 25, VERY intense! Some days I was in three cities, it was intense but very exciting. I try to attend as many events on the ‘Art Calendar’ that I’m invited to as possible. One highlight this year was being invited to the first ever Anselm Kiefer Russian Solo Show at the Hermitage, St Petersburg, which was brought together by Svetlana Marich and Thaddaeus Ropac. We are honoured to have Svetlana on our advisory board. You may be correct re. the aim - I have decided to start small and precise. 


B: AucArt. After launching on December 1st, Graduate art is finally available outside of degree shows. Natasha, you are at the centre of this exciting venture, what can guarantee AucArt’s success?


NA: I believe in the artists I consign, I am very passionate about keeping as many great artists afloat as possible within this very difficult (economically) period. Nothing is ever guaranteed in life. With everything happening at the moment, politics and tech etc, collecting art and nurturing people’s interest in art is more important than ever. 

Zoe Hoare, City & Guilds of London Art School Graduate

Light Bridge, 2016

Sculptural Relief with Perspex

190 x 141 cm

Courtesy: AucArt

"art schools should provide a focused space that allows artists to explore and grow..."

B: Have you received any support while setting up AucArt?


NA: We are still at the beginning; I am overwhelmed by how supportive my friends and extended network have been. Once I had researched the concept thoroughly, I workshopped the concept with a selected group of friends based in New York, who have been designing/building tech experiences for 25 years, they jumped on board and we haven’t looked back. 


B: You hosted a panel exploring the relationship between art education and the marketplace. What were the main points discussed?


NA: AucArt has a partnership with Soho House this year, and we identified that some art responsibilities are changing. Artists should be as proactive as possible, taking on additional roles, though remaining an artist. We had a member of the Arts Council on board who discussed the issue with government grants being retracted and having to think of more creative ways of funding artists.

B: What do you think the real role of art schools are, or should be, today? 


NA: Are you insinuating that some art schools are beating around the bush too much? I think art schools should provide a focused space that allows artists to explore and grow, to metaphysically ask artists to ask more from themselves, to offer constructive critique, to inspire via tutors who are still actively working on their own practice. I do think an artist should receive very basic knowledge on artist management, that is something I’m trying to push for in the new year.

B: You’ve lived in London, as well as many other cities around the world. What makes London a good place to live for young artists? 


NA: The seriousness, professionalism and fast pace of this place. Everyone here vibes hard! So many talented creatives move to London to build a network, you meet people from all over. It’s still the art capital of the world. 


B: How do you see AucArt assisting young artists’ careers? 


NA: By giving artists a professional and well connected platform, through which they can sell their artwork and support themselves and their practice (at their own pace).


B: You went looking for graduates in Glasgow, Brussels, St Petersburg, Rome, Istanbul. And further afield: New York, Miami, Tel Aviv. Why? Is the aim to expand AucArt all over the world?