The Review sits down with Samir Ceric to discuss London’s top art business for talented and emerging artists.
Can you explain Debut Contemporary and how it started?
Debut Contemporary is a professional development platform designed to assist talented artists to turn their practice into a viable business. It mentors and professionally develops all members, equipping them with the business knowhow, teaching them that knowledge and relationships are worth investing in and will pay off, providing they showcase determination, commitment, resilience and vision.
It started when I was approached by two of my collectors with the idea of launching a fashion retail space for designers and jewellers. Before we knew it, my wife and I had co-founded Wolf & Badger with the Graham brothers, which became an award-winning business within a few months of its launch.
The idea is to help design talent to take their business to the next level and gain the necessary exposure to get noticed and succeed. Today, Wolf & Badger has stores on Ledbury Road, Dover Street and the Savoy Hotel. In November 2010, we applied this model to the art world and Debut Contemporary was born, launching for public in our Notting Hill gallery space in March 2011.
Are there particular types of art forms you deal with?
We deal with all types of art forms. Of course, a vast majority of works on display are paintings, photography, mixed media and sculpture.
How do you pick the artists you work?
We get a great deal of recommendations and I think, by end of the year, Debut might become a closed call and mostly attract recommendations and referrals. At present our collectors, gallerists, curators, artists tell us who to check out or tell their artists friends to apply and join the Debut programme. We regularly scout too, vising exhibitions, open studios, end of year degree shows, and just continue keeping our ear close to the ground, so we don’t miss out on great talent hiding out there.
How does an artist go about working with Debut Contemporary?
Artists go through a very rigorous process, but after that, the fun and serious work starts. We work very closely with each artist. Our ambition is to pass on our knowledge and knowhow, so when artists leave the programme after 12 or 18 months, they are more confident, more knowledgeable, more informed, better networked and fully understanding how the art system operates and who makes it in the art world and why. We place a great importance on getting to know their collectors and supporters, forging long term relationships with these people, who are often very influential and successful in their own right.
Do you have a favourite piece of art currently on display in the gallery?
If pushed, I would probably say Tony Raymonzrek’s Sunflower.
How can investors and people interested in artists connect with/buy their works?
We have launched a state-of-the-art e-commerce platform and have redesigned our website, which showcases artists and their work. I wanted to create a very experiential brand where both first-time buyers and experienced collectors felt comfortable to browse and buy art based on their preferences.
When asked what to buy, my advice is to buy what you fall in love with; buy what you connect with; buy art that evokes emotion in you. As for investment value, there is an element of investment in every artwork created by a talented emerging artist. However, if you want to speculate and invest, go for blue chip artists, which will cost you upwards of £100,000.
What are some current and forthcoming exhibitions/events you are excited about?
We have an exhibition coming up in Dubai, opening on 27 October at The Mine Dubai. Apart from just selling art to very powerful and influential Dubai collectors, gallerists and curators, the aim is to ensure that many Debut artists earn gallery representation in the Emerati and Middle Eastern markets
I am also excited about our collaboration with the luxury chess set company Purling London, which launches on 30 October at Debut Contemporary. Ten Debut artists have been commissioned to create original artworks using chess set pieces as a blank canvas. The results have been mind-blowing and it’s no surprise that Harrods has decided to stock it.
Last but not least, our Christmas Show, Part I, launches on 6 November and we will have some special artwork premiering on that night.
What trends are you seeing emerging in the art world looking forward to 2014?
Crossovers between art and fashion, art and design, art and interior, art and food are getting stronger and stronger. It’s great being a part of this evolution of the art market. Technology is really helping to destroy barriers of entry, creating a non-intimidating art environment.
At Debut, we are very excited to play our part in making the art market a lot more democratic and a lot more artists centric and about their audience too. It’s never been more exciting to be an artist and or art collector, which directly supports young creative enterprises and ensures that artists stay in business and continue creating groundbreaking work.