The Cool Hunter
The Cool Hunter
The Cool Hunter is one of the world’s most widely read design and pop-culture online destinations. We were fortunate to catch up with The Cool Hunter himself, Bill Tikos, at his Prahran store during one of his visits back to Australia.
The Cool Hunter is one of the world’s most widely read design and pop-culture online destinations. Since the site’s launch in 2004, Melbourne born founder of The Cool Hunter, Bill Tikos, has gathered and maintained a following of over 1.8 million readers monthly generating over 2.1 million page views. Making an appearance in The Cool Hunter is a truly big deal and can literally send a businesses fortune skyrocketing.
In addition to publishing the journal online, The Cool Hunter also represents a select group of artists – launching their careers on a global scale. Tikos has proven there is a large appetite for purchasing art outside of the traditional gallery model as evidenced by his launching and ongoing management of Australian artist CJ Hendry’s extremely successful career.
We were fortunate to catch up with The Cool Hunter himself, Bill Tikos, at his Prahran store during one of his visits back to Australia.
Are you disrupting the art market?
In the traditional gallery model, an artists work is presented through a limited number of galleries and confined to a certain geographical spaces at any one time. Now social media has removed all previous restrictions. An artist’s work, new and old, exists online everywhere at all times. It’s not confined to any physical space. This new medium has also created space for influencers other than the traditional commentators in the art world, like myself for example.. So people simply interested in great design, whom probably have a somewhat refined aesthetic and are following TCH may then become exposed to emerging artists like CJ Hendry when they would otherwise not have been actively searching for it. It’s simply increases exposure in a way that would not otherwise be possible. This exposure is not only amplified by way of sheer numbers, it’s also reaching the right audience.
How did you launch CJ Hendry’s work via The Cool Hunter?
We featured CJ’s work as part of a larger event I was organising called The Art Hunter. Interest in her drawings exploded after they were posted on Instagram and I was contacted by something like two hundred interested buyers from around the world in less than an hour. The transactions for those first five pieces were finalized within a 24-hour period, days before opening night and sold to international buyers who never saw what they were buying in person until it reached their front doors. From there I was able to pre-sell her pieces from a photo of the subject matter alone, before pen had even touched paper, that is how much demand social media had created. CJ’s buyers weren’t confined to any particular location, they ranged from London, NY, LA, Dubai, Hong Kong, Mexico…. just everywhere. It serves as a perfect example of how utilizing the right channels, in this case my social media platforms and online presence, can instantly bring exciting new talent to the attention of an international audience of interested buyers.
Tikos has proven there is a large appetite for purchasing art outside of the traditional gallery model as evidenced by his launching and ongoing management of Australian artist CJ Hendry’s extremely successful career.
Did you find that response surprising?
It was a steep learning curve for me. I had known TCH had become influential, but I had never quite witnessed the power of social media first hand like that before. The experience allowed us to forge together a successful business relationship. Her work really resonated with my readers so I was able collate a large database of interested buyers from my subscriber lists.
CJ herself instinctively understood the power of social media from the very beginning of her career. It was definitely not knowledge she needed to acquire. She had a professional business-like approach to the medium from the start. CJ made herself and her work into the same high-end luxury brands she draws and marketed herself accordingly through her own social media platform, principally Instagram. In this way her own online presentation of herself and her work through social media was integral part of her success.
So by utilizing our combined platforms and working in tandem we were able fast-track her commercial success by generating insatiable global online interest.
Do you think an artist can manage themselves and sell via social media?
Now that all the walls which once stood in-between the artists and their market are collapsing thanks to social media, I can see the temptation for artists to engage in a little e-commerce directly and go it alone and by-pass all forms of representation. Coming from a background of talent management I would always be wary of such a course of action, one of my maxims I’ve always stood by is that talent alone is not enough to succeed long-term. I think this is particularly true in the beginning of any creative’s career.
I strongly believe artists will work best by having some sort of representation to look after their interests in the marketplace allowing them to concentrate on what they do best. I just think the form that representation takes is currently in a state of flux and artists, especially emerging artists, are experimenting with going it alone. And I can see why, the gallery model in its present form takes approximately 50% of every sale. Artists probably marked the beginnings of their careers from the moment when a gallery decided to represent them thereby lifting them out of obscurity. Social media is simply flipping the reigning paradigm and putting the bargaining power back into the hands of the artists themselves.
The Cool Hunter store is located at 142 Commercial Road Prahran or visit www.thecoolhunter.net