Paul Dimmock is a Goldsmiths MA Media Studies & Communications graduate, now working as the Media Planner at CultureLabel, the leading online Art shop providing ‘Hand-selected products from leading art galleries, artists, museums & independent stores’. CultureLabel’s partners include Tate, V&A and Saatchi Gallery. Smiths talked to Paul Dimmock and CultureLabel’s co-founder Peter Tullin about selling Art online and building your own cultural enterprise.
Smiths: How did the idea of an online art shop come about?
Peter: We started selling gifts in Tate and V&A. I thought we could take the art world to a larger audience. After a year of researching and finding out what our customers like, we started selling our products online. There are art galleries where you can buy quality art from, but the strange thing is that the biggest art prints seller in the world is Ikea. We are on a mission to change that. We want to fill the gap between buying art at galleries, and buying them at Ikea or John Lewis. There should be an interesting space beyond just the high street art shop.
Smiths: How does CultureLabel choose the products on sale?
Peter: The key part of our brand DNA is that we are the only ones who work with contemporary organisations. From large Art institution such asBritishMuseum to talented artist and designers. It’s about quality, our team try very hard to find interesting products.
Smiths: Do current cultural trends influence your choice of products?
Peter: Yes, events like blockbuster exhibitions show, we make sure we are reflecting what happens in the art world, but we are not totally driven by the commercial side. We think we fall back to the idea of ethical shopping, when customers shop at CultureLabel they are supporting the arts and buying products that reflect their interests.
Smiths: How does CultureLabel invests in emerging artists and Art graduates?
Peter: CultureLabel provides a launch platform for more than100 artists. We work closely with University’s art organisation such as ‘Jotta’, which acts as a mini-curator of our website, managing the space for us to support emerging Art students. We build an audience for artists by promoting their products through our PR connections.
Smiths: CultureLabel is based online, is Internet an important platform for the company?
Peter: It’s never going to replace buying Art offline, but the internet provides art collectors for example with the convenience of purchasing items through the website. More people are online these days. Also, People tend to spend more money online. It’s not an option not to do the business online anymore.
Peter: I had a secure and well-paid job before, but one need to take risks, sometimes it might not work. As it turns out, starting CultureLabel is the best thing I’ve ever done. I wish I had gone down the road of the cultural entrepreneur earlier. It’s also about finding the experts who can help you implement your idea and then you can form a team from there. Lastly, be prepared for failure and you probably won’t earn as much as you did initially.
Smiths: Tell us a bit more about the book ‘Intelligent Naivety’ that CultureLabel produced?
Peter: The book was written at the time we had the idea of CultureLabel, by me and the other co-founder, Simon. Cultural business is an interesting emerging market. We strongly believe it is possible to build sustainable cultural businesses. ‘Intelligent Naivety’ is a practical handbook for both Art organisations and artists to build their own cultural enterprise, you can download it for free on our website. The book provides trends, prominent case studies in both commercial and cultural world, and what do these factors mean for cultural organisation to enable emerging entrepreneurs to come up with new ideas and form their own business.
Smiths: What is the future plan for CultureLabel?
Peter: We are thinking about launching our business internationally. We want to introduce our current collaborators to new international markets and give our brand an international dimension. Also, we aim to expand the collection of interesting products we offer.
Smiths: Paul, how was your experience as a graduate from Goldsmiths?
Paul: After I finished my MA course, I got a job doing in-house media for a law firm, which wasn’t for me. Then I tried to immerse myself in as much as possible in the area I want to be in, that’s the best way to get contacts, and that’s how I got to know the two co-founders of CultureLabel.
Paul: Integratedly use all the social media platforms, to find great opportunities and projects you can get involved in. If you pay more attention, you will be able to find many great small companies, rather than just the big enterprise.Internships are important as well, they provide a space in which your ideas are nurtured in your chosen area of interest. I thought having an MA degree would make me stand out, but you have to drive yourself more in the creative industry than other areas.
Smiths: A few words to describe what CultureLabel do?
Peter: Taking the Cultural DNA to a wider audience.
Visit CultureLabel.com to learn more about the company. If you are interested in the book ‘Intelligent Naivety’, contact Smiths Art section. We have a few copies! You can also download the book for free from their website.
Photo, courtesy of CultureLabel
In the original issue that this was published (Issue II, December 2011), ‘Culturelabel’ was incorrectly spelled ‘Culturalabel’. The editor deeply apologizes for this oversight.