Piero Tomassoni of Artvisor tells us about an innovative art advisory firm helping clients around the world build & manage contemporary art collections.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Piero Tomassoni: Doing well, thankfully. Spending time in Italy at the moment, waiting for the right time to return to London.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Artvisor.
Piero Tomassoni: While studying at university I was already curating exhibitions and writing on contemporary art – at that time (the late 2000s) the art market had started booming and becoming a mainstream interest. People were asking me to help them or their families buy art. I wanted to invent a tool to make art advisory more accessible for collectors and more efficient for advisors. That’s how Artvisor was originally born.
How does Artvisor innovate?
Piero Tomassoni: We are the first company aiming to offer independent art advisory services in a scalable way. We have built and tested a proprietary online platform for a while to learn user habits, and we are now developing a mobile app at the intersection of AI and human expertise. In the meantime, Artvisor also functions as a more “traditional” art advisory and curatorial platform, in order to engage with our users and clients in real life too, and create a community of people passionate about art and culture.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Piero Tomassoni: Last year was our strongest ever in terms of clients acquiring artworks, so I should not complain. Our clients suddenly had more time on their hands and were keen to expand their art collections. We also had more time to focus on more complex advisory jobs (e.g. consulting governments on museum policies) and on our educational activities with leading universities. However, other sides suffered especially the curatorial and event-based part of the business. When things became difficult in London, most of our team members relocated to other countries – at some point, we were working remotely across five different timezones from the US to South East Asia – not always easy to coordinate, but an interesting experience.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Piero Tomassoni: We were a lean company, to begin with, so we did not have to make anyone redundant, however, due to the pandemic we had to postpone hiring new talent for a while. We learned to manage work more efficiently as a result of not being all in the same office. For the past few years I was constantly traveling, so during the lockdown, I oddly managed to get more facetime with the team (remotely) than in normal times.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Piero Tomassoni: We certainly adapted very quickly to the new online-only environment, as we had been there for a long time as one of the forerunners of art x tech. Several galleries turned to us for advice with regards to this transition, as well as to curate online exhibitions. Our community enjoyed the virtual exhibition tours and online talks we organized during the lockdown periods, however, you cannot entirely replace the atmosphere of in-person exhibition openings and art fairs, not to mention experiencing artwork in the flesh.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Piero Tomassoni: We did make use of some of the instruments put in place by the government – compared to other countries the UK was quick and efficient in deploying measures to help businesses.
Your final thoughts?
Piero Tomassoni: It remains to be seen what kind of permanent effect this period will have on our habits and lifestyle, and to what extent vaccinations will allow a return to “normal” life and work as we knew it before 2020.
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