LBB sits down with MTArt Agency’s newest additions to find out how the company is growing in 2022
When MTArt Agency first launched in 2015, Marine Tanguy couldn’t see anything like it in the art world: an agency, taking homage from CAA, William Morris, and UTA, to eschew traditional agency models and put artists first. Talent agencies in the art world are growing in prominence, as artists evade the gallery model to instead work with agencies who put the onus on setting the artists up for commercial success.
Working with some of the world’s leading brands to create everything from editorial campaigns to public art and immersive experiences with the likes of Octopus Energy at COP26, Bumble, DKNY, and InterContinental, MTArt Agency artists such as Claire Luxton, Robert Montgomery, and Delphine Diallo are bringing art to the masses, from collectors to passersby walking down Regent Street, to people just picking up their phones.
Sitting front and centre of their portfolios, MTArt Agency puts the emphasis on its artists’ visibility. But what goes on behind the scenes? Here, LBB sits down with MTArt Agency’s newest recruits to find out what’s next for the agency, and how the team is putting the emphasis on collaboration, bringing the art world to new audiences, and supporting its artists first and foremost.
Yann Mathias - Director of Innovation and Impact
Yann Mathias, a fellow at Central Saint Martins, the RSA, and Zinc VC, spent 20 years building The Design Laboratory, a multidisciplinary design and innovation studio in London, before planning on taking some time out at the end of 2020. Instead, Marine saw his LinkedIn announcement and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, and so he joined MTArt Agency early last year as its director of innovation and impact.
In his role, he’s always on the lookout for what’s next and what can further innovate and develop MTArt Agency’s artists. From new sustainable materials and techniques to exploring solutions in the metaverse, Yann is taking a careful look at what’s developing in the physical and digital space, and what can be applied to its artists. And at the same time, listening to the artists and finding out where they can make the most impact.
Under Yann’s guidance, MTArt Agency’s artists have access to the creative agency side of the art agency, allowing them to work with some of the world’s leading brands such as Gucci and L'Occitane. “The strength of a talent agency combined with a creative agency is that your talent has the best ideas,” says Yann when LBB asks how the MTArt Agency model differs from the traditional advertising world.
He concludes: “We live in a world where the channels of communication are polluted, there are so many visual messages that if you want to cut through the noise, you have to come up with things that are connecting directly with audiences.”
Inès Leonarduzzi - France Director
As MTArt Agency’s France Director, Inès Leonarduzzi is tasked with making the French arm of the agency as successful as its London counterpart has been since opening its doors to artists, collectors, and brands in 2015. Alongside growing her office’s relationships with artists, she’s pushing on innovation and recruiting ‘the best talent’ in the process.
From founding her non-profit organisation ‘Digital for the Planet’ in 2017, to publishing her book ‘Réparer le futur: du numérique à l’écologie” (Repair the Future) in 2021, Inès brings a wealth of experience to MTArt Agency, so LBB asks: What prompted this move?
It was as a collector that Inès first became involved in the MTArt Agency community, before being asked to spearhead the office in France. “It was magical because the timing was incredibly perfect. I wanted something new, and art had always been my first love as a professional,” she tells LBB.
Inès adds that when she first encountered MTArt, it was the first time she’d seen an organisation taking care of artists at 360 degrees. “We support them financially, creatively, and also with recognition and presence in the industry,” she says.
Accessibility is crucial too: “We need art to speak to everyone. To be about gender, the social gap, sustainability, human rights, climate change - with art, all the time the goal is to push a reflection. It’s supposed to make you think more, and to make you ask yourself questions you’re not in the habit of asking.”
“All our artists have something to say.”
Lise Arlot - Head of Strategy
At just 20 years old in 2014, Lise Arlot cofounded Feral Horses, one of the first fractional art ownership start-ups that allowed thousands of art collectors to co-own half a million dollar worth of art by artists such as Banksy and MTArt Artists David Aiu Servan Schreiber and Leo Caillard starting with as little as £5.. At a similar time, Lise connected with Marine, who acted as an advisor and investor in the company. “It was so meaningful to be mentored by a fellow art entrepreneur with a similar background, Marine played a critical role in shaping and implementing my mission to allow more people to interact with more art on a daily basis.”
As her mentor before boss, Lise tells LBB: “I became obsessed by how brands and commercial bodies could actually support arts and culture in the public realm. And so when I told her that I was selling the company she basically made me a job offer very soon after that.”
In her role as head of strategy at MTArt Agency, Lise tells LBB how no two days are the same: “My role is very much around operations, processes, and strategy. I could be doing anything from fixing an immediate problem, to planning out a five-year strategy. What I love most about my job is finding ways to scale the talent and creative agency models by hiring the best brains and identifying the key stakeholders in and out of our industry in order to promote our talents.”
With the art landscape ever-changing, LBB asks Lise, what’s next? “In terms of macro trends, we are looking a lot into digital solutions to enhance physical experiences.
For Lise, a large part of the strategy is democratising art and its benefits to large audiences: “What we hate the most is when people feel silly when confronted with art,” she adds. “ Art should be inspiring and challenging, it is an opportunity to question and shape your views through emotions. I have this intimate conviction that if more people were to interact and engage with art on a daily basis, the world would just be so much more fun.”
Blue Gaydon - Director of Brand Partnerships + Business Development
Before joining MTArt Agency at the start of 2021, Blue Gaydon had spent 11 years at Vogue UK, leading its creative partnerships division, alongside a stint at Wallpaper* as Bespoke Director, and LBB was keen to learn more about her move into the art world.
What was the motivation? Well, as Blue says, “My reason for moving into the art sector wasn’t necessarily a desire to move into the sector itself - it was a desire to work at MTArt Agency specifically.”
“Long story short, I met Marine and I was so impressed by what she’s created with MTArt. And what kept resonating with me was the fact it is really about the artists, not just about the art.”
It’s a world where it’s easy to feel intimidated, says Blue, and it was MTArt Agency’s emphasis on positive change, making art accessible to all and putting the artists ‘first and foremost’ that appealed. And in terms of brand partnerships, the agency is going from strength to strength, pulling off the magical act of connecting brands with its coveted audience.
Blue has been behind campaigns with the likes of Octopus Energy at COP26 in Glasgow and leading fashion e-com site Mytheresa. “I saw Marine creating a space where art could be brought to everyone, it’s such a powerful tool to connect people,” she adds, noting the importance of public art as a pillar of the agency’s offering and brand partnerships.
Blue’s work is opening up a much desired space for brands to access the best artists, which was difficult to achieve before, she says. “In many cases, a brand will go to a creative agency, ask how much it’ll cost to work with an artist, and the agency will just stick a finger in the wind and begin trying to secure them,” she says. “We are lucky as we have everything - a representation agency and a creative agency - all under one roof. And because we already have close working relationships with all the artists we represent, that means we can expertly match the right artists with the right brands, depending on a brand’s goals, values and budget.”
Rita Alay Libera Del Curto Askenasy - Art Sales Director
LBB sits down with Rita Alay Libera Del Curto Askenasy off the back of her first two months at the agency, following a career spanning Christie’s, The Serpentine Galleries and Sotheby’s. Since joining the agency in December, she has been busy immersing herself in artist studio visits and getting to know the artist and their practice.
“It’s an honour and so meaningful to be able to work with living artists, and artists that are so relevant in times of upheaval, polarisations, and divisiveness,” she says. “Taking the time to visit them and learn about their narratives, practice, and themes has been very important to me.”
When it comes to sales, Rita tells LBB how important it is for MTArt Agency’s community of collectors to meet the artists and see the art. “In terms of what people are collecting and looking at, given the recent events, I think a lot of artists are weaving into their narrative, and practice, themes of unity and of coming together,” says Rita.
At MTArt Agency, Rita says across its roster there’s a mix of emerging and established artists, side by side. “I’m very passionate about placing our emerging stars in important collections,” she tells LBB while drawing attention to one of the artists she is excited to be working with, Àsìkò. “His work is fascinating because he’s exploring questions of identity, the multifaceted aspects of Nigeria and culture, mythology, anthropology, feminism, and female empowerment. These topics are so urgent right now.”
“I’m excited to give these artists the recognition they deserve, and place artists, like Àsìkò, in collections. That’s one of my key focuses: spreading the urgency of art through our collectors.”
Eva Syti - Head of PR and Comms
It’s only a couple of weeks since Eva Syti joined MTArt Agency as its head of PR and comms when she sits down with LBB. Eva tells LBB: “I was never introduced to art before this, and so being on a new journey feels very exciting. To be part of the magic and to also have the responsibility of ensuring that more people have access to this world, it’s important. And it’s not optional. It's a necessity.”
She joins MTArt Agency following five years of working on content creation, photography, and PR for a range of brands including Givenchy Beauty and Estée Lauder.
At MTArt Agency, Eva is fostering the relationship between the roster of artists, brands, and audience, and at the root of it all spreading the message of openness and accessibility: “It's a great way to show people how art can have many forms and shapes and you are able to be a part of it, and it’s accessible to everyone,” she says on how MTArt Agency interacts with the world.
In her role, Eva will be focusing on sharing the behind-the-scenes, and the artist stories, with MTArt’s growing community: “Storytelling is important to connect the viewer with the narrative of the artist and to fully experience the visual part of the art,” she says, “It's about inviting our community to this world through the right opportunities. It's a bit like matchmaking, but for artists and brands that can positively impact the world.”
“It’s about finding ways for how we can work together on something great.”
Amel Windsor - Head of Community
Amel's career has seen her collaborate with various fashion brands like BEEN London and Brora as well as intern with Bulgari and Azzedine Alaia. She is a contributing editor at Tatler and Talia Collective, and she now also joins MTArt as head of community, a role where she will be immersing herself in the work of the agency’s roster of artists to further celebrate them and grow MTArt Agency’s active community.
For Amel, it’s all about sharing MTArt Agency’s vision and its artists to the next level, and the timing couldn’t be better, she says, following the agency’s busy 2021. “The artists are from so many different cultures and backgrounds, and I think it’s a really exciting time to be joining MTArt Agency,” she tells LBB. “And at the moment, I have the luxury of getting to know them all.”
“MTArt Agency is so much about the artists themselves and making sure we’re celebrating them as the people behind the amazing work,” she adds.