20 minutes with: Chelsea Neman Nassib, founder of the Tappan Collective digital art gallery


Buying art today no longer requires a visit to an art gallery, and Chelsea Neman Nassib is at the forefront of the evolution of the art world towards home buying. She is the founder of Tappan Collective, an innovative online platform that sells works by a number of artists.

In 2012, Nassib launched Tappan to connect young artists with seasoned art collectors from around the world. Today, she represents 75 artists around the world, from painters to photographers. It’s part of what the future of the art world might look like: a fully digital remote business model with transparent pricing.

During the pandemic, his business flourished as art collectors bought online to fill their white walls at home, while other brick and mortar galleries struggled and some even closed, wondering if a lease is even necessary when it comes to art sales.

Along with the artwork, Tappan’s website features photos of artists in their studios, with background information on each artwork, interviews with collectors and guest curators, such as author Eva Chen and activist Malene Barnett.

Nassib’s list includes Los Angeles artist Umar Rashid, who has created limited edition prints depicting mythological figures, African and indigenous communities, and historical artifacts for what the artist calls “a process of storytelling and telling. creation of myths ”. She also represents Brooklyn artist Fanny Allié, who creates intuitive designs that depict mysterious figures in a dreamlike world.

Nassib, 32, spoke to Penta on storytelling through art, its own art collection and the risks of transparent pricing.

Paintings by Tappan artist Bryce Wymer on display at Pharrell’s The Goodtime Hotel in Miami.

Tappan collective

PENTA: Why did you create Tappan Collective?

Chelsea Neman Nassib: Soon after graduating from art school, I quickly realized that the path to success was not clear. I started working for an interior designer at the time. I was surrounded by amazing artists and learned to associate them with art collectors who didn’t feel accessible. Together, it was a win-win.

Who are your art collectors?

Usually our clients have income to spend, but don’t know where to go to get authentic art. I wanted to show them young up and coming artists who weren’t in the blue chip market. Professional artists, making original works, but not easy to find.

Why wouldn’t these collectors just go to an art gallery?

I think a lot of people rely on their interior designers to guide them. In general, many brick and mortar spaces, especially 10 years ago, can be cold and intimidating. Some collectors don’t feel like they have what it takes to ask questions, for prices, and to find out more about the artists.

Why do you make the prices of each work transparent on your website?

We felt that transparency was one of the barriers to entry. Thus, we make prices and availability transparent.

Why is storytelling such an important part of the process between artists and collectors?

Storytelling is what we deal with the most. We always try to highlight the intention of an artist when creating a work of art, which he wanted to explore. When people read descriptions of artwork, they are usually drawn to something not only aesthetically but also conceptually. We have a team of art consultants who work with clients on an individual basis.

Artist Umar Rashid.

Tappan collective

Who are the artists you represent?

Jaimie Milner is a photographer on our platform who has a series called Gifted, where she highlights black men in her community, and profiles black artists and musicians, it’s a powerful series. Satsuki Shibuya is an artist who works with watercolors, creates works intuitively and is inspired by the energy with which we all interact on a daily basis. She depicts energy fields through watercolor painting.

Why is a distant art gallery important in the future, compared to a brick and mortar gallery?

I see us as an entry point for people who want to start collecting or discovering artists. In the traditional art world, brick and mortar galleries are still important. It’s not going anywhere. Our economic model can coexist alongside that. People can find works of art they love at an affordable, accessible, and understandable price. An art within their grasp, something they can engage with. This is what we are trying to change.

How is the art world changing to become more e-commerce friendly?

During the pandemic, so many galleries had to close. We had to join the people at home. The digital switchover has become fascinating to watch because it’s something we’ve been working on for nine years. In the past, galleries did not allow customers to view an online sale, you should always contact the gallery to see if you can purchase the artwork. This is how it is different.

What was it like to be at the forefront of digital art sales in the early 2010s?

The circle is complete. In 2010, the art world said it would never go live. Even for artists, it can be scary and overwhelming for them to go online because of the way the art world is rooted in its traditions. People have said, “This will not work. Over time they’ve gotten in line and we feel good we got a head start.

What’s in your own personal art collection?

Over the years, I have collected a lot of work by artists from the Tappan Collective, like Ethan Caflisch, who was with us when we created the gallery, and who is based in London. I have also recently started collecting works by Mia Weiner, who creates tapestries in the classic human form. I also like James Needham’s landscape photos.

How is the art world changing to become more digital?

There’s a lot more accessibility and access, even through platforms like Instagram, I find people who wouldn’t have engaged in the traditional art world looking for artists, engaging with artists, curious about their practice and collecting.

What advice do you give to art collectors today?

Always buy with your eyes, not your ears. That says a lot, but I believe it: buy parts that you personally love, not those that you think you should buy. Get to know artists and galleries, develop relationships. Learn about an artist’s practice, read interviews with him, and do your research. Follow their work. And above all, develop your own taste for art. Find what you like and what kind of art you can live with.

This article has been edited for length and clarity.