Interview by Victoria Aróstegui Edit by TheArtian.com Team
I’m meeting Abian Zaya on a rainy morning in the beautiful space of Travesía Cuatro. The grey of the outside Spanish sky is in contrast to the bright white of the gallery inside. Zaya, software engineer with almost 12 years’ experience, is the founder of ITgallery, a software company for managing and cataloging artworks for galleries, collectors and other art institutions.
Zaya is soft talking and with his smile he makes you feel comfortable. I was interested to know what brought a software engineer to develop tool to the art world. What brought him to combine art with technology? Zaya started by talking about his surrounding – as a boy he grew up surrounded by art – his family connection to the art world. He was surrounded by artists and attended art exhibitions from very young age. At the beginning “my hobby was art and my job was IT development” he says. It wasn’t until he felt lack of fulfillment in his career that led him to connect both art and technology, his profession with his passion. After developing a prototype and testing it with some galleries he knew, he realized there is something in it. At that moment he started to form his team and look for funding.
I was wondering what actually ITgallery is doing and what is the value their clients get. Zaya said that his software actually enables clients to have immediate access to the data stored, changing the way they were working. In times when galleries are moving constantly to attend fairs and exhibitions around the world, making you data available from everyplace any time is important. The system than allow access to data by phone, tablet or computer from any location having everything properly classified artworks, where they are, if they were sold or not, prices, what clients are interested… the cloud gets to the art world, I said.
Zaya is proud of their last year release – mobile app which enables galleries to access artist’s portfolios, collector’s information or show the work of an artist easily from a mobile device. The App improve also the galleries CRM (customer relationship management) by allowing the gallery owner to store the information about collectors interested in a certain artist in order to contact them for an opening, enables to set filters for sending private invites to clients, and follow-up of collectors interests.
I was interested to know if Zaya sees any difficulties bringing new technology to a traditional market based on personal approach. He doesn’t see difficulties in it because he as well believe that the way of doing business will continue to be personal, however what they are doing is helping galleries owners to manage data and to operate in a more professional and effective way knowing beforehand what are the collector’s interest, works he bought, location, or any other information.
You need Patience. The process of getting people interested is very slow and it’s very important to persevere and continue working.
Operating in the Art Market as a technologist is not an easy task, I say. So asked Zaya what he thinks an entrepreneur interested to get into the art world has to have. He replied immediately: Patience. The process of getting people interested in your product is very slow, he said, and it’s very important to persevere and continue working. “I know the art world seems very elitist, but it’s not. If you have a good project, you talk to people and fight for it, you will find a place in the market for it.”
Victoria Aróstegui is a freelance writer, artist and passionate about fine art based in Madrid. She studied Fine Arts and Art Business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. She worked with different players of the market and also on her own entrepreneurial art project in Spain, UK and Switzerland.