Gaux Girl - Tze Chun2019-08-30
The art world can be an intimidating one, both to those looking to make a purchase and relative newcomers considering it as a career path. Tze Chun decided it was high time the insular world was cracked open when creating Uprise Art, an online gallery dedicated to changing how we think about buying art.
The company’s mission—to make new and emerging artists accessible to collectors of any experience level (and amount of disposable income: options exist to pay through installments)—was driven by the belief that everyone should feel empowered to identify, select, and purchase pieces they love.
Tze's success disproves the misconception that the art world is only one you enter via carefully guarded secret password or an insider’s tap. Before she founded Uprise Art, Tze was the artistic director and choreographer of a modern dance company—a self-described "outsider" in the art world. Harnessing that fresh perspective as a powerful asset, not an Achilles’ heel, was paramount to building something unique and welcoming to all.
We asked Tze about the business of art, life as a female founder, and how she handles being a busy girl on the gaux.
What's your first memory of art?
One of my earliest memories is being a few years old and watching my father draw an apple on the dining table. I was in awe of the realism created from simple pencil and paper. He then transformed the apple by adding in features of a child’s face; I guess that was my introduction to how art could change the way you see the world around you.
As an “outsider” to the art world prior to founding Uprise Art, what was it like entering that new space? What skills do a fresh perspective bring?
When I started, I had an art history degree but had never worked at a gallery, so I’ve always approached our company from the perspective of “how should things be done?” rather than “how are things currently done?”. Being an outsider offers invaluable insights. I’m a true believer that people with ambition and skills can turn their lack of experience into an asset.
You’re part of a group of female founders. Can you speak about the rewards and community that come with that?
I’m part of a number of official and unofficial female founder communities. One group is a secret society of women entrepreneurs that started six years ago and is still going strong. It’s been extremely rewarding to have a group of friends that can be honest and open with each other. We laugh at the crazy “founder problems” we are faced with and are comfortable showing our vulnerabilities and asking for advice.
It’s exciting that more women are leading companies, especially consumer-facing companies, since women influence more than 80 percent of consumer spending. It’s raising the bar. Brands are becoming more sincere, prioritizing customer service, and creating products with a higher level of attention to detail because of the things that women notice, value, and expect.
How does your team decide which artists to represent?
We look for artists who have a unique view of the world and a conceptually compelling artistic practice. There are a lot of artists who can make something beautiful; we’re focused on artists who go one step further and create memorable, meaningful work.
We also seek to work with artists who are kind people. If you care about someone personally, you're even more motivated to help them succeed.
Fashion and the art world are closely linked. What is your personal style? Have you seen it change since working with artists?
At Uprise Art, our approach is that your artwork should reflect your personal interests, values, and aesthetic. At the same time, collecting art is a great way to shake things up a bit and look at the world, and perhaps yourself, differently. I try to take a similar approach to fashion, and I think it’s a great opportunity to try new things and not be boxed into one style or mindset.
What does being a girl #onthegaux mean to you?
Feeling confident and comfortable, no matter what your environment or where life takes you.
Photos by Kirsten Francis for Margaux