Meet Our Donors: Jessica Paindiris
We’re proud to introduce a new bi-monthly feature in which we talk with individuals who help support our mission to empower artists at critical points in their creative lives.
First up is Jessica Paindiris, a tech entrepreneur and founder of The Clarion List and a member of our Young Patrons Circle. The Clarion List is a comprehensive online directory of art world service providers rated and reviewed by users. Paindiris left an executive role at Christie’s to pursue her vision of creating a radically transparent service that would connect collectors, artists, and art market professionals with appraisers, shippers, consultants, conservators, and other art world professionals.
In 2016, Paindiris was among the first candidates chosen to participate in The Circular Board, an accelerator for female entrepreneurs who lead or aspire to build businesses with multi-million dollar revenues. The Clarion List, which launched in New York in 2016, will soon be available in fifty U.S. and European markets.
NYFA: Please tell us about The Clarion List and what motivated you to launch this resource?
JP: The art market is notoriously opaque, and we set out to change that. We were inspired to bring to light the many companies that are not discussed nearly as much as auction houses and galleries, such as conservation, lighting, shipping, appraisal, framing, and dozens of other service companies.
Many industries like retail, home design, and home repair services have long benefited from online platforms with ratings and reviews. We are taking this proven business model and applying it to the art world via The Clarion List. Artists are empowered by not having to rely solely on word of mouth referrals or be locked into a particular vendor because they think they have no other option. With The Clarion List, artists can more effectively bid out projects if they are not satisfied with a company’s price, expertise or overall quality of service. They can discover new resources – such as installation companies or conservators – when traveling to art fairs or working remotely. And, they are empowered to share their experience of working with a listed company with other artists and collectors by writing a quick review.
NYFA: What types of resources are available through The Clarion List?
JP: Our main resource is our searchable, sortable, free directory of thousands of art service companies across 36 art service categories, such as storage, transport, framing, conservators, law firms, lenders, lighting firms, consultants, PR firms, and more. We enable artists, collectors and art professionals to share information with each other via reviews for each listing – we are like a “Yelp for the Art World.”
We also provide a blog, which is another free resource, for learning more about the nuances of art services. We create and curate articles about art conservation, appraisals, consulting, framing, legal issues, loans, transactions, installation, and more – that is, the business of art that occurs before and after a transaction.
NYFA: With your experience in the arts and business development, do you feel there are any notable shifts or trends in the way artists and art service professionals utilize online resources?
JP: While some still prefer to have a minimal online presence – with some even avoiding a website – many are embracing the low-cost business development opportunities available online – better websites, SEO, Google AdWords, listing platforms (like Artsy or The Clarion List), content marketing, email marketing, social media, and more. While there may be a learning curve for some who have limited marketing expertise, the benefits are well worth the effort to build your business’s brand equity and generate leads online.
NYFA: What is the best advice you can give to an entrepreneur focused in the arts?
JP: My advice is to take advantage of the wide variety of low-cost online marketing tools available as mentioned above, and three in particular. 1) Instagram is a must for those in the visual arts space, and there are many online tools, blogs, and courses available to learn how to grow your following in a meaningful way as well as create optimal content. 2) We are in a visual industry and your website is often your first impression to a potential client. Squarespace and similar companies can help an entrepreneur create a gorgeous website from scratch without any coding experience; there are also companies who specifically help artists and galleries with their unique needs and double as collection management software (see our list here). 3) Lastly, of course, I recommend all visual art businesses take advantage of a free listing on The Clarion List so new clients can discover you when searching for art services like yours. (Note: we do not currently list artists.)
NYFA: The Clarion List participated in The Circular Board’s Winter Cohort 2016. What words of advice can you share specifically for female entrepreneurs and business leaders? Are there any resources made available specifically for women in the arts?
JP: The Circular Board is a great virtual start-up accelerator for women-led businesses. Besides being inspired by my cohort of entrepreneurs in the program, one of the biggest take-aways was acknowledging the need to take more risks by reaching out to influencers and those who can help your business scale. Female entrepreneurs can be very analytical and risk-averse. Know what you need, identify who can help, and aggressively pursue them. Spend less time worrying about rejection or failure if they say no.
NYFA: What do you find most beneficial about being a member of NYFA YPC? How did you enjoy your experience at this year’s Hall of Fame Benefit?
JP: It’s very rewarding to support an arts organization where you can see the results on the human level: helping talented artists do what they do best. This year’s benefit was my first, and it was inspiring as I heard how NYFA impacted and continues to impact the careers of the artists being honored.
The NYFA Young Patrons Circle (YPC) is a group of young professionals in the creative, entertainment, social, and business sectors between the ages of 21-40. Young Patrons further engage with and support the cultural community in New York through fundraising initiatives, professional development, and private events.
NYFA regularly interviews arts professionals and artists for our Business of Art series. Find these conversations and other articles here.
– Susan Mandel, Special Events Intern
Images: courtesy of The Clarion List