A virtual art gallery with a global reach – can it be done? We met up with the people behind Owlstand – a new London based company that has created a unique platform for the showcasing of quality art work collections from across the world. We wanted to understand the thinking behind this new platform and how they plan to showcase art to scale, and how they can offer something three dimensional on a 2D screen. We also wanted to know where they see their company going in the future, so we spoke to founders Stephen Yang, Alexander Paukste, Mu Tian, and Damilola Oshilaja.

 

Stephen Yang

Can you describe what your business offers?

We are an online exhibition platform for artists, galleries and museums, which mimics real-life exhibitions with a specially developed viewing room. This offers a unique, high quality experience for users to view art online, making art learning and sharing easy and connecting the art industry with people globally.

And your background? How did you come to be an entrepreneur?

I was born and raised in Guangdong, southern China. I studied 3D Animation in Guangzhou Academy of Fine Art, before earning a postgraduate degree of Interactive Media from the University of The Arts, London. After that, I joined a start-up called Sedition in London, and worked with many developers and entrepreneurs from all over the world.

I always want to become an innovator. And nowadays, pure tech start-up may be one way to be innovative. Therefore I chose it, and want to contribute to the society from an entrepreneur’s aspect.

Can you tell me how your business partnership came about?

I met both Alex Paukste and Mu Tian about 4 or 5 years ago, through work and university. We often have gatherings, particularly we like to watch football together and we even saw Chelsea bringing home that Champions League cup! Alex has worked closely with me for the last year, while Mu only joined the team recently .

Where did the idea for this business come from?

I love art and technology and I’ve worked closely with art and tech people throughout my career. I was deeply influenced by an American professor called Randy Pausch, whose mission was to combine art and technology. I have the same mission for Owlstand. We want to use frontier technologies to build an art platform, and make art accessible to people globally.

What makes your business different?

Every company has its own genes, so every company is different from the others to some extent. Owlstand’s gene is a mix of art, technology, Asian, black, white and more. This makes us truly global and enable us to communicate with different people. There are hundreds of competitors in the art market, but we don’t copy them. To differentiate ourselves we want to be outstanding. Once you are in Owlstand, you will tell the difference between us and other competitors: our unique viewing room, our unique navigation bar and our unique uploading flow… We want to do our best in every aspect, and make our users happy.

What is your vision for the next 3 to 6 years for your company and product?

I hope Owlstand will become a household name globally for anyone who is interested in art.

In the next 3 to 6 years we hope that it can help billions of people view art online, help artists and students share and study art easily, and help galleries and museums connect with people globally.

 

Mu Tian

I started with a BA in media arts in China, then 6 years ago I came to the UK and completed a degree in fine arts. After graduation I had my first job working as a creative designer for a media company. A year later I left this, and with Stephen’s background in interactive design and fine arts, we then came up with an idea of starting a company around the Chinese market as well as publishing. Together we established Mustache Owl & Co, a company focusing on digital and media design, advertising and project management. A year later Stephen and Alex started Owlstand and I came on board about three months ago using my background in fine art to create an art platform for everyone. My belief is that art should be affordable to and enjoyed by everyone and that’s why the platform came about.

Did you stay with the other company?

No, I left because it was time for me to try something new. Working in an office doing only design work wasn’t for me. I wanted to focus more on my art. Owlstand has allowed me to do that.

 

Alexander Paukste

I’m originally from Lithuania where I completed my university degree, after which I came to the UK. I met Stephen some time back and I was working for a company Digital Science when he came up with the idea for Owlstand. I thought it was an interesting idea and I wanted to have my own project.

And back home? Have you always loved computers?

I have always loved computer programming and played a lot of computer strategy games – old school stuff with keyboards and a mouse. Maybe now I will get into consoles too!

What’s your favorite game?

That’s a hard one. Maybe the older games – Half Life, Counter strike… I also love the Quake series.

OwlStand founding members

Stephen mentions that you help each other a lot with your design and programming dreams. Are you a technological partnership as such?

Yes. He supports my 3D modeling and I support his programming for the website. We help each other to establish our territories and dreams.

What is your vision for the next 3 to 6 years for your company and product?

Ideally to be a global art platform that everyone will be using. Personally I think that the internet as itself is still to be discovered to its full potential. Maybe this will change in the future. It’s hard to imagine how it will be in 6 years time. For example 5 years ago I didn’t think we would use a phone to record an interview! It think it’s amazing to be able to view sculptures and electronic artworks online.

Can you describe the future customer user experience?

We want to help artists publish their works – to give users an actual virtual experience of examining the art piece. We want to use Wikipedia, generate traffic and create 3D vision without the need for special glasses. The technology exists to create this hologram but you need the hardware at the moment, such as a 3D modem. We want to eliminate this.

 

Damilola Oshilaja

I come from the UK and have an MA in fine arts. I see myself as a true artist. I paint, write, I make films.

And how did you come to be involved in Owlstand?

I met the guys at a gallery show in east London that I was covering for a magazine editorial piece. Mu and Stephen were excited about what they were doing. We talked a bit then they came to visit my studio. The name is like a magnet – if you know anything about brand or marketing you will understand this. The name sounds mysterious, like an owl watching you, and you want to know more. Mu and Stephen invited me to be a part of the team, to help build the content and the identity of the brand going forward. My multi-disciplinary background as an artist and painter played a part in delivering the brand. I can also promote the brand from an editorial point of view. I work as an advisor very much on the art side. I want to help create something beautiful as well as functional.

What made you choose going on your own as opposed to formal employment?

I come from the millennium generation and we prefer to go on our own. While I feel like there is nothing wrong with existing brands, I want to add to the environment with new ideas. It’s the way things are going forward. You have your usual arty suspects selling things off the internet, like Sothebys, but I don’t think that a brand like that encapsulates the raw energy like we do. We are closer to the pulse of getting the platform to the point of a larger audience – helping people reach top quality art. That is why I’m on board. It’s a no brainer.

For more information please visit www.owlstand.com

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