Interview with Ashley Wong, Head of Programmes, Sedition Art

1. How did the story of Sedition Art come about and why and when did you decide to join this innovative and forward thinking art business?

The idea of Sedition was conjured up many years by founder Harry Blain before there was the hardware and internet bandwidth to support to it. The idea was to bring the traditional model of the print multiple of etchings and woodcuts into the 21st century, where digital videos and images could be sold and traded as limited editions. Technology has now caught up and now we see everyone owning numerous screens and devices with extremely hi-resolution quality and connection speed. The opportunity came to bring art to the screens we see and carry with us everywhere today.

The company was founded in 2011 and I joined Sedition in late 2012. I discovered Sedition as the perfect intersection between art and technology. I have always been interested in new models and platforms for emerging forms of art, and found Sedition to be working in an exciting new space. It was well suited to my previous experience in arts organisations, tech start-ups and creative agencies.

2. You seem to be working with very famous artists and have recently started introducing emerging artists too. What’s the selection criteria and what makes you decide to work with an emerging artist?

We began expanding our Curated artist base to encompass emerging digital practices of artists particularly work in net art, software art and new technologies. Many of these artists are not very well known in the gallery world, but are extremely established within the media art world. Since Sedition presents work in the digital medium, it makes sense for us to branch out into this area. Many artists are referred to us by our external curators and partners and are curated according to the quality of work, exhibition history, artist profile and how their work fits within current discourses in art histor

We also have the Open Platform, where we accept submissions from artists who would like to take advantage of the tools we have developed to release their work as digital limited editions. This area is open to any artist looking to promote their work and can submit work by visiting:

3. Where do you see Sedition in 5 years time and what are your biggest challenges in the forthcoming months?

5 years in the technology world is a long time, and keeping up and evolving the business model to adapt to the changes will be a challenge. New technological developments will bring incredible new opportunities. There are many things we would like to do with Sedition, however as a start-up there are limited resources to expand in all areas that we’d like to.

In 5 years, we want see Sedition as the leading distributor of art in the digital age where Sedition becomes a household name for art in the home. We want to see art becoming as accessible and popular as music and literature where anyone can become an art collector of works by world-renowned artists.

Some things we’d like to develop in the future is the possibility to be able to support interactive works, where works are essentially applications where audiences participate in the creation of the work and the work changes every time the work is experienced. There are many technical challenges to achieve this, but it is on our minds.

We want to continue to grow and expand the artist base on Sedition to new categories including unique artist-musician collaborations, design, photography and all areas of art. We also want to release expand into different regions around the world and working with artists in India, China, Brazil and beyond. We also want to provide a space for artists who are not longer with us today and release editions from their ‘back catalogue’ of works.

Other areas we hope to grow are to develop a retail presence in physical spaces such as in museum gift shops where people can purchase works as digital editions from the shop. We would also like to develop an art frame used exclusively for storing and displaying artworks in the home.

4. How and why do you think you and your business is changing the fabric of the art world globally and how do you think you’ll re-write an art history?

Sedition is changing the way people collect, sell and experience art in the digital age.

For artists, Sedition presents a new model for them to release work as limited editions in the digital medium. We are seeing more and more artists working with digital video and imaging. New digital tools will allow new kinds of art. We want to see artists making works specifically for Sedition and the medium.

For collectors, art is no longer something static that sits on your wall, it is dynamic where artworks are moving images and can be changed or played on a playlist. Sedition presents a new way to collect, display and experience art in the home. Sedition is also making art much more accessible to the everyday person. Artworks are much more affordable than works sold in a gallery.

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

If not continuing to grow and build Sedition, I see myself starting my own venture and perhaps moving back to Hong Kong or China where there are many areas for growth in the art economy or else pursing a PhD or business degree.

6.    Did you previous professional background prepare you for your current role and what’s been your biggest personal achievement at Sedition to date?

My background both in art and technology sectors placed me in a good position to develop into the role of Head of Programmes at Sedition. I have broad knowledge of contemporary and digital art, as well as, skills in digital project management and online marketing. I began in the marketing department and working across artist management. I’ve moved into a role that helps develops new partnerships that introduce new artists to Sedition, as well as provide new marketing opportunities that also inform new product developments. My biggest achievement has been developing a partnership with Modern Media in China and facilitating the translation of our platform and apps into Chinese and launching a collection of 5 young Chinese artists on Sedition at Art Basel Hong Kong 2014.

7. How did you find giving a workshop to Debut artists and what stood up for you in that session?

The workshop at Debut was great to speak to artists looking to get their work out there. The work at Sedition is often quite faceless since it is online, so it’s great to get out and talk to people and see what their perspectives and interests are in Sedition.

8. What’s your personal and professional view on Debut’s business model on equipping artists with the business know-how and preparing them for the real world behind the art market?

Debut has an interesting model to support the professional development of artists’ careers. Network is one of the most important things to have as an artist and it seems Debut is very adept at putting artists in front of the right people that they would otherwise not encounter.

 9. Do you think art school and art education could benefit from more professional development and creative entrepreneurship at a degree level?

Yes, I think art schools could benefit from more professional develop since many art graduates come out and are not equipped with the skills to get them working or on a career path to allow them to making a proper living. Many artists and art graduates struggle especially in a slower and over-saturated art economy.

10. On a more personal level, what are you favourite places in London to go and see art or any hidden gems that you’d like to share?

Personally, I like visiting Raven Row, which is a gallery near Liverpool Street in a beautiful space with thoughtful shows. I enjoy also exploring art spaces including Bold Tendancies in multi-storey car park in Peckham. Hackney Wick is also a dynamic place for art events particularly during Hackney Wicked Festival. There is a new space opening there supported by Barbican and Trampery called Fish Island Labs.



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