For the next installment of our Women Working in the Arts series, we are pleased to share an exclusive interview with Uprise Art Founder Tze Chun.
When you launched Uprise Art, you did not have previous experience working in a gallery. Where did your interest in art come from and how did you learn what you needed to know about the industry in order to make your company successful?
I've been a visual and performing artist my whole life. I studied Art History and Dance and led several arts organizations in college, and then directed a dance company for several years before founding Uprise Art, so for most of my life I have been organizing creative people. Our gallery is successful because of the lessons I learned along the way:
1) Respect artists' unique experiences and take the time to build meaningful relationships. We serve as a sounding board to artists, in addition to supporting their careers through sales and introductions to collectors.
2) Education is key - art is about seeing the world through someone else's eyes. By definition this requires people to move beyond what they already know. We are genuinely excited about sharing the stories of our artists and their works, and helping people discover artwork that they will build their own connection with.
3) Take things slow. Like everything else in life, art is a journey best enjoyed by having an eye towards the long arcs. We keep an artist's career goals in mind with every show we present and piece of advice we offer. With collectors, we take time to learn about their interests so that we can best identify work for their collections.
What is the mission behind Uprise Art and what would you say is your niche in the market?
We help people and companies find artwork by emerging contemporary artists for the spaces where they live, work, and gather. Our niche in the market is that we're making original artwork accessible online, while still being highly curated. There are plenty of affordable art marketplaces on one end of the market, and then galleries with limited content and e-commerce capabilities on the other. Where we excel is that we nurture real relationships with artists and collectors, while being able to make art collecting accessible through storytelling, crafting content and offering personalized art advisory.
What role has having a showroom and gallery space played in the growth of the business and in the scope of services you can provide to your clients?
As a digital-first gallery, we are able to give artists a much further reach online, and make their work accessible to collectors from around the world. That being said, Uprise Art features one-of-a-kind original artwork, and we love being able to host collectors who are local to NYC or visiting the city so that they can see work in person. Our gallery space enables us to present several in-person exhibitions a year and showcase our curatorial vision, and it's also connected to our showroom where we host collectors for viewings. We also participate in several art fairs each year, which allows us to engage with even more collectors.
What has been the most exciting part of owning your own company?
Having the flexibility to be nimble and adapt. Rather than having to do things the way they have always been done, our team establishes how we think they should be done and makes that a reality.
Being a sole founder comes with a mountain of responsibility. How would you advise new entrepreneurs to handle the pressure of making big decisions and being the leader?
Build a network of people at the same stage or slightly ahead of you in their businesses so that you can have the "is this normal?" conversations. Often the biggest emotional toll comes from the uncertainty of not knowing if you are on the right track. Problems seem impossible until you realize that others have been there before and have come out the other side.
Are there specific artists from Uprise Art that we should know about? Any new initiatives?
All of them! I will note our two newest artists: Ba Ousmane, a Tokyo-based French artist who creates figurative and domestic compositions in the tradition of Japanese ink painting, and Sarah Ingraham, an artist who draws upon the long lineage of still-life and landscape painting and recasts these genres in a contemporary light.
We also have a two-person show featuring Clay Mahn and Bryce Anderson opening at the gallery this February.