Michal Freedman and Sarah Peguine are redefining online art acquisition. Their platform, Art Source Online, is an innovative model that gives international collectors access to purchase the best of what Israeli art has to offer. The art advisory service is unique as they support the local scene by working with galleries as well as emerging artists yet to be represented.
The two joined forces to fill the gap of what was missing in the Israeli art market and to create a resource that is accessible and approachable. The founders share what it’s like creating a new business that is shaking up the local art market.
How did you both come together to create Art Source Online? Can you explain the platform? How does Art Source work?
Michal Freedman: We first met almost a decade ago, when we were both directors at two of Israel’s leading contemporary art galleries. Sarah eventually started her own art tour company Oh So Arty (which now holds high-end art tours in over 20 cities worldwide). Sarah would bring her international clients to the gallery on these tours and over time we realized we have a shared vision for the Israeli art market and its international reach; And that we work really well together!
We were both seeing how collectors from all over the world were falling in love with Israeli art. Many people have a strong connection to this place and a deep passion for art, but they have no access or quality information in English about this scene, which is not easy to navigate even for local art lovers. It started becoming clear that there needs to be an online home, and that we were the women to make it happen.
Sarah Peguine: It was very important to us from day one to build a community, and produce original, quality content for it. So you can purchase artworks and also learn about Israeli artists through our online magazine or The Art Source Podcast. Art Source is more of a service rather than an online shop. You can explore works by artists or category and if there is a specific piece you like, you can inquire with one click. We promptly respond and start a dialogue. We want to make the experience as simple and streamlined as possible, so there is an option to buy online, or you can see the artworks in person and do studio visits with us. We are also excited about our gift cards. We always say we feel art makes the most meaningful gift for a milestone or major life event, but it’s also so personal. Our gift cards allow you to give the gift of Israeli art, and for the recipient to choose the artwork they fall in love with.
What experiences helped you create this platform?
We kept seeing collectors and art lovers visiting Israel and being truly surprised by what contemporary Israeli art has to offer. We understood it wasn’t being communicated enough outside our local scene. There was a gap that we wanted to fill for this community and for anyone looking for an exciting emerging art market.
Why did you decide to create this platform online? And why Israeli art?
SP: We wanted to create something that would disrupt the art market. Our platform makes collecting art easier. Having the platform online makes it accessible.
MF: In a way, having our platform online democratizes the art we feature — that is a lot of the feedback that we have been hearing. Also, the internet and social media is the way we consume everything, so it was natural for us. We work with both independent artists and local galleries because we want to give as complete a picture as possible and because we want Art Source to be a win-win for everyone involved.
Why Israeli Art? Because it is our passion! I think that contemporary Israeli art is an amazing scene, and an exciting new market.
SP: Exactly, because it is emerging, the prices are appealing.
How does Art Source Online benefit the artist?
MF: Not all artists have the time, or know how to balance their artistic practice, work with collectors, promote themselves, and be engaging on social media all at the same time. We work with a wide variety of artists, that we have been either working with or following for years. From the most established leading contemporary artists to emerging artists, all carefully curated by us. It’s important for us to be able to promote female artists that we love–that has always been a part of our mission.
Who is your audience?
SP: We have both Israeli and international clientele. I think that our audience is very diverse, and that is something that kind of surprised us!
Our audience ranges from young professionals, people who might be purchasing art for the first time all the way to top-level collectors and corporations.
There is this wide range because the prices on the platform are very diverse. We have a category of up to $2,000 and within that category, you can find super affordable artworks — but what is most important for us is the quality of the art. Whether it’s a $200 print or $30,000 painting, we look for artworks that stand the test of time. Art Source is a highly curated service, not an online shop.
Are the works of the site changing?
MF: Oh, constantly.
SP: Art Source is super dynamic, especially as it is online. We want people to have this experience of coming back to the platform and seeing new work, new content, and new artists. We want to keep people and our community always engaged.
You have had some collaborations with corporations, for example, H.Stern. How was that experience? And do you have any upcoming collaborations?
MF: As a part of our services we work with private people, large scale collections, and corporations as well. For this collaboration, we were approached by the CEO of H.Stern while he was visiting Israel. H.Stern hired our services for art advisory for a project that they did in Israel. Working with corporations is definitely something that we are continuing to pursue.
So far what has been the greatest challenge of creating a new business? And what are the challenges you have faced being two strong females in the art world?
MF: For me the most challenging time is probably right now, navigating our business and my passion for it with new motherhood and a one-month-old. I’m so grateful to have a co-founder like Sarah, who’s been incredible while I’ve been figuring it out, and I’m excited to face the new challenges ahead!
The way that we work together has just been seamless, so that has made all the challenges easier to get through because we have each other.
SP: I think our strength is our partnership. We are the perfect match.
Where do you see the future of Art Source? And what are your upcoming projects?
SP: The Art Source Podcast is the main upcoming project that we are super excited about. We launched the Art Source Podcast a few weeks ago with the artist Zoya Cherkassky. And it won’t just be artists as guests on the podcast, we will be featuring founders and creative people, both Israeli and international.
MF: Also strong female founders who inspire us.
SP: It is a fun project for us, and an opportunity to interview these inspiring influential people about their initiatives. Our future vision for Art Source is to cross borders and reach more people in Israel and internationally, also to keep growing and bringing the Israeli art scene to the forefront.
MF: And women to the forefront!
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Featured Image: From left – Sarah Peguine & Michal Freedman. Photo by Guy Nahum Levy, Ha’aretz.