25 Mar Codeky: “The Ukrainian art market is very optimistic”
Yuliya Kovaleva, one of the founders of the Сodeky.art platform which will come out with modern Ukrainian art to European audience in May, told about the specific features of the platform and why the artists should pay attention to it.
What did you dream of when you created the platform?
Since 2000, I worked with the architects in the architectural and design workshop I founded. I made friends with many artists and sculptors. I got a certain specter, let’s say, of desires, impressions, emotions of people of art, according to which I can draw conclusions as an analyst – what they need to make their product commercial. By the word “product” I do not mean an art object but rather a name that turns into a brand in a market. Because the main task and goal of the artist, as it seems to me, in addition to the works creation, should be promoting the name and informing the public of the concept of his work, his philosophy.
And what is the dream? Do you want to “highlight” other talents?
Do not highlight, I want to show them. The marketplace that we created is an advertising platform, a marketing tool that can provide an artist with a wide audience. We start with the Ukrainian artists but this is not the limit of our dreams. the European ones will join in the nearest future. We want to get such a symbiosis that will show that the contemporary art of Ukraine is inseparable from the European context.
Have you studied the experience of the similar platforms? Why are you so confident in your success?
Of course, there are large international platforms that sell art works. What’s unique here is that all the content that we create, our Codeky.art product itself, is aimed at ranking names on Google. We offer the artists to write texts in their offices about the art works posted there. If other analytical systems are focused on images, we focus on the text and, accordingly, on promoting the context on the Internet. We hope that the artists will cooperate with us, understanding that their contribution or payment will go for technical improvement of the platform, recognition by the search systems increasing recognition and popularity. And we dream of large-scale coverage, so that a user from any European country, writing in the search bar “online gallery” or “marketplace of contemporary art” immediately received as a result the Codeky platform and the names of those artists who work with it. We have invested a lot of money to create a platform; we are developing now also at our own expense. And we hope that after a while the paid participation of the artists on our platform will help us to rank more widely, better represent, and enable us to develop faster. Let’s just say that the platform “pulls in” the artists, and the artists “pull in” the platform. Such cooperation, you know.
What was the main challenge for the development of the platform?
A lot of mistakes were made. We had the Alpha version, it’s Betta. It is completely re-made. We released the Alpha version, tested it for six months and realized that there are very few marketing tools for the artists to promote themselves. Now this is a completely different concept. We can say that this is even a new product, only the corporate identity and, in fact, the frame remained. The content is completely new. Each section has a huge number of the tools. Business, IT and art are interdependent.
Whom do you consider to be your main target audience? Who did you focus on when creating the platform?
We have sections for everyone. In general, we are focused on modern young people who create, experiment, and understand contemporary art not as an object but as a concept. They understand what online marketing is, why we use such tools. This audience, I think, is easier to explain what we are striving for. In fact, our platform is designed for everyone. We do not specify any target audience, however, nor do we evaluate either the art work posted with us or the content. Because we are for the purity of the concept of the creator. If an artist sees the world this way, wants to talk about it like that – what the business rooms have been created for – he writes everything by himself, fills everything by himself. Our platform moderation concerns exclusively grammatical corrections, some hints for the convenience of filling in the data, but in no case does it concern the semantic load.
Did you do researches before starting? What tools did you use?
Yes, of course, we conducted a study of how global platforms work in general. Understood their defects, what turns these platforms into a huge warehouse of art works, let’s call it this way, of all artists of all countries and why it’s very difficult to select a specific artist on the platform. Therefore, we added the Blog section where the artist can write about himself, his philosophy. This is very important because such information will be “pulled in” with the name and surname, and the potential buyers will finally be able to see not just a beautiful art work but also understand what the artist was inspired by, who he is and why he does it.
How to determine what to focus on because it is clear that art is sold unevenly?
Again, since we are a marketplace, we do not focus on anything. We provide the opportunity to introduce themselves. If the concept of an artist who wants to be presented by us does not carry information about violence, negativity, contention in society, we are happy to accept him. We can sell not only professionals but also semi-professionals, talented amateurs, and so on. We invite all who are inspired by contemporary art to use our platform.
Since you already have some experience, what is more in demand by the buyer, what techniques? What should the young artists pay special attention to? Maybe they should create the vase with a design of flowers on it or landscapes?
Self-expression is the main thing. You know, when we had an art location, it often happened that an artist brings his art works, four of them I really like, and the fifth is so-so. But this “so-so” art works is the first sold. A man comes in and says: “Here it is! It’s my dream! I want it so much!” No matter how well you know the intricacies of art criticism, it is important to understand that any work will find its buyer. Therefore, we should not dictate the artists what to paint or sculpt. Their self-expression comes first.
Do you agree that there is no art market in Ukraine?
There is an art market, but exists in its participants – creative people. It isn’t systemic and isn’t regulated by the state. Today, Ukraine has difficult economic situation and few tools for promoting artists and that is the reason for our marketplace to appear. We want to give more opportunities because working with the Internet and modern technologies is much easier and more efficient. Ukraine has formed its own TOP galleries, which regularly host exhibitions, art dealers, gallery owners, curators … Yes, the art market in Ukraine exists even in these difficult conditions, I think that it is very optimistic.
How legal is your activity, do you pay taxes, does the artist pay taxes? Because the majority of the market in Ukraine is the black market and shadow sales.
You are absolutely right. Our platform is legal. To begin with, our product is English, not Ukrainian. In Ukraine, I am registered as a private entrepreneur; marketing activities, marketing tools that we use, I carry out as the private entrepreneur. As for the international platform itself, it belongs to a company operating in the English jurisdiction. And, accordingly, we work in accordance with the European law. Our artists are legally registered on the platform, give their details for the fondy.ua payment system. This is an Austrian payment system, presented in the UK, Ukraine. And, in fact, if the artist is not identified, has not submitted his documents, has not indicated a payment card, he has no right to sold his art works on our platform. We do not store anyone’s personal data. All information is processed by the bank. It is confidential and we guarantee complete security of the payments on our platform.
It means, the artist pays the taxes by himself then.
If he is registered as the private entrepreneur and sells as the private entrepreneur, he pays according to his group of the private entrepreneur. If he is registered as an individual, he pays taxes as an individual. You know, the decency of each person depends only on himself. We on the platform create all conditions for a transparent market. And then, if a person, for example, hides the sale of his art work from the tax authorities, we can’t control it anyway because he himself reports to the tax authorities, we can’t affect this.
Well, if the company operates according to the British legislation, then are you a representative?
No, we are the beneficiary of this English company, the owners. The names that are entered in the Partnership Agreement, in the UK registry. Since I am registered in Ukraine as the private entrepreneur, we pay tax on the services that we provide on the platform. And the platform itself is a platform operating under the Madrid copyright system supported by the whole Europe. Because of this, we have not yet gone beyond its scope, although we have already received offers from the USA and Canada.
When creating a brand, how can the trust in your platform be earned among the artists as in Ukraine even the most famous of them regularly get into unpleasant situations associated with dishonesty of the gallery owners. Can the gallery owners post the art works or resell them to the customers via your platform?
We have a Private collections section. Any private collector who wants to sell a part of the art works from his collection can register there. He must obligatory have the documents for these art works; without them the art work cannot be placed with us.
What document do you ask for?
It should be the assessment of the art work and confirmation of the authorship. You can contact the museum and the experts will assess. If the collector sells Yablonskaya, for example, the assessment report can be provided by NHMU.
We are speaking mainly of modern art.
The collectors can sell not only contemporary art but also the art works of the old masters in the Private Collections section. The only thing to consider is that the law of Ukraine prohibits the export of such art works outside Ukraine but they can feel free selling such art works inside the country to the other collectors.
In fact, a “souvenir” from St. Andrew’s Descent and a piece of art can stand side by side at the platform.
No, that’s not the way it works. We have a certain pricing policy, restrictions. There can be no souvenirs from St. Andrew’s descent, because the section, for example, “Private Collections” starts at $ 300 for an art work and cannot be decreased. And such moderation will not miss a souvenir from St. Andrew’s Descent.
Can a young artist sell his work being not of the highest level?
Yes, it is possible. We do want the young artists to not only post work, but also to blog, show the audience round their work, philosophy. In a month, we will have a “Warehouse” section with the possibility of free storage of the works. We will inform more about this later.
Are you ready to work with hot-button social issues appearing in the private galleries.
Of course. We take anything, we are ready. We love hot-button issues, this is our story.
Hot-button issues can be different including pedophilia, violence, conflicts.
As I said earlier, we do not exhibit works on our online platform containing the elements of violence, promoting drugs or weapons, encouraging conflict and disunity in the state, pornography and so on. Everything that is within the framework of art, for example, nudity, is not included thereto, since it has been in art at all times. But if we are talking about pedophilia, then we will not present such works because our product is designed to popularize art, that is, it was created for the general public.
What are your goals – long-time, current.
As to the long-time – we are going to develop in the European market. We would really like the majority of the Ukrainian artists to be represented there namely via our platform. If we talk about current goals, now it’s attracting the maximum number of the Ukrainian authors to our resource. We must process this content, analyze it and enter the European market in May.