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Arend de Jong

Founder/CEO

Arend appears in the Top 100 

Innovators & Entrepreneurs Magazine

dejong, Arend-cover.jpg

Arend de Jong

Arend de Jong, the founder and CEO of SwapArt, is a seasoned entrepreneur with a passion for innovation and a deep love for the world of art.

 

Armed with an MBA from the prestigious TRIUM program, jointly hosted by NYU-Stern Business School, London School of Economics, and HEC School of Management Paris, Arend developed a strategic and multicultural perspective on business. In addition, Arend has over 15 years of international advisory experience and had already achieved remarkable success in the tech industry before creating SwapArt. He helped to take Sales Boomerang, now www.trustengine.com, from a 4-person startup to a company with over 100 employees, $17 million in annual recurring revenue, and a valuation of $125 million. In a different universe, he advised Sama Sama, catalyzing a strategic shift to build and sell restrooms across Northern Ghana. Arend's expertise also extended to small businesses, having helped several of them achieve double- or triple-digit growth. Now, Arend has embarked on a mission to revolutionize the art market, making it more accessible and profitable for both artists and art enthusiasts.

 

Under Arend’s proficient leadership and novel vision, SwapArt has emerged as a game-changer in the art industry. The company's grand unveiling took place on December 8th at the SwapArt Launch Party GALA, attended by over 100 artists, art enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and residents of Boston's Seaport District neighborhood. Their mission is simple, yet transformative: to break the traditional gallery stronghold on the art market and democratize art while empowering artists to monetize their work effectively. In this endeavor, SwapArt introduced a brilliant concept: Art-by-Subscription. Subscribers can lease artworks for their homes or offices, with the option to replace their selection after six months, or make a permanent purchase. And, SwapArt will redirect a significant portion of the leasing fees towards eventual ownership. Moreover, SwapArt eliminates the hassle for customers by handling artwork delivery and installation. Offering transparent pricing and a diverse selection of artworks, SwapArt ensures art lovers enjoy a convenient and cost-effective way to bring art into their lives.

 

For artists, SwapArt provides a unique platform to monetize unsold pieces, secure future sales, and establish a steady revenue stream. While currently serving the Boston area, SwapArt has ambitious plans to expand its footprint to other cities. The official launch on January 1st, 2024, marked the beginning of this exciting journey. With dozens of artists and well over 100 artworks offered, SwapArt is already challenging the traditional art market, where artists often struggle, intermediaries reap the rewards, and consumers face limited affordable options.

 

We spoke with Arend to learn more about his groundbreaking model, how it is reshaping the art world, and how it fosters a thriving ecosystem that benefits artists and art enthusiasts alike.

 

Arend, what inspired you to start SwapArt?

 

Growing up with my mother, the artist Anke Mensink, I had a unique perspective on the art world. For decades, I watched galleries cater exclusively to the upper echelons of the market, siphoning off most of the profits, making art unnecessarily expensive while limiting artists’ compensation. My mom sold her art through galleries, personal commissions, and museums. Currently, nine of her pieces are on display at the Museum Gouda in the Netherlands. But I vividly remember the challenging years when she had a few bad months, and our family struggled to make ends meet. I witnessed firsthand the financial instability that artists often face. This experience deeply resonated with me, and it's what drives me today. My daughter, Aylin, and I have harbored an idea for quite some time, and now, I'm finally putting it into action. In the art world, only a fortunate few artists are handpicked by galleries. It's a system that makes it exceedingly difficult for artists to connect with customers or the wider public outside of this exclusive circle. Galleries excel at serving the wealthy elite, but they represent less than 1% of the art market. This means that a significant percentage of art-enthusiasts are being left out of the equation.

 

Over the years, I've visited countless artists in their studios, surrounded by breathtaking artwork with no clear avenue to reach those who would cherish having it on their walls. Meanwhile, most people cannot afford to purchase a piece for thousands of dollars, but they can certainly manage a reasonable monthly subscription fee. It's this realization that has inspired our mission – to lower the barriers, eliminate the elitism inherent in the art market, and make art more accessible and inviting for everyone. Our solution is simple but revolutionary: art-by-subscription. By offering individuals the opportunity to enjoy artwork at an affordable monthly rate, we aim to bridge the gap between artists and the public, ensuring that art becomes an integral part of everyday life for the hundreds of thousands of art enthusiasts who have been excluded for far too long. Our vision is to transform the art world, democratize it and make it a space where everyone can participate and enjoy the beauty of art.

 

What types of art can people find at SwapArt?

 

Currently, our collection primarily consists of paintings, prints, drawings, and mixed media pieces from talented Boston artists. However, we're actively expanding our inventory to include photography from notable artists like Wally Gilbert, a Nobel Laureate in chemical engineering, among others. In the near future, we also plan to introduce a broader range of sculptural works. Our goal is to curate an eclectic inventory that transcends specific styles, offering a diverse selection to cater to the unique tastes of every art enthusiast and subscriber.

 

You’ve received a very enthusiastic response from artists. How do you discover them?

 

We discovered most of these artists through open studio events within artist communities, and we are fortunate to have 47 talented artists within our own building where SwapArt is situated. We selected artists whom I believed would align well with our concept, and their enthusiastic response has been overwhelming. Many of them are not only supportive, but also actively referring other artists to join our platform.

 

You’ve had this idea for a long time. Now that you’ve finally brought it to life, does it feel like a dream come true?

Absolutely, it resonates deeply with me because SwapArt brings sound business principles into the art world while expanding market opportunities for artists. Witnessing the realization of my daughter's and my dream, as SwapArt thrives with a burgeoning gallery of exceptional artwork from incredibly talented artists, and knowing that we're making art accessible to a wider audience, truly feels like a dream come true.

 

 

Arend de Jong
Founder/CEO
SwapArt

Website: www.swapartboston.com
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/arendjdejong/

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