Above: Elif Koyuturk – Her Mind II, featured on zarastro.art 

.ART sat down with the CEO of Zarastro Art (zarastro.art), Haydar Taygun, to talk mindful curation, fostering artist connections, democratising art access and – unexpectedly – Australian race horses!  

In an online art market crowded with platforms claiming to ‘democratize’ art, how does Zarastro Art uniquely address the challenges faced by art lovers and collectors in finding great art at fair prices?

Zarastro Art is neither an online gallery nor an e-commerce platform. We do not have a fixed roster of names that we rotate periodically, as is common in online galleries. We do not feature millions of randomly uploaded works without any sense of curation, as is typical on online platforms.

We offer carefully curated works by prominent artists only (both emerging and mid/late-career) from all around the world, in a variety of mediums and themes, ensuring that there is something for everyone. We introduce new names every single month and continually refresh our selection. 

We keep our pricing fair, making exquisite artworks accessible to anyone and everyone. We offer free consultation services during the selection process for our clients. A buyer truly gets their money’s worth at Zarastro Art.

We also cover news and articles to help our subscribers stay updated on the art world. Our ultimate goal is to share our passion for the arts with everyone by harnessing diversity and bridging cultures through contemporary art as a universal language.

Haydar Taygun, CEO of Zarastro Art

Haydar Taygun, CEO of Zarastro Art

Can you elaborate on how Zarastro Art supports its artists, ensuring their work is presented with the respect and understanding it deserves?

We appreciate that it is challenging for artists to find new collectors and connect with them. There is fierce competition for visibility in the art market due to the large number of artists. 

Despite not officially representing artists, we are committed to understanding their needs and collaborating effectively to showcase their works. Through dedicated engagement, we have cultivated strong relationships with each artist, resulting in a streamlined workflow. Artists regard us as trusted partners, appreciating both the quality of our final product and our proactive approach to marketing and PR efforts.

We cherish our partnership with artists and strive to give them a well-deserved voice to fully communicate the backdrop of their work. We achieve this by conducting video interviews and curatorial texts to help art lovers thoroughly grasp their narrative.

Jaan Toomik – Fly Paper III

What is the curation process like at Zarastro Art, and how do you balance the need for quality control with the platform’s goal of accessibility?

We constantly seek to onboard a more diverse pool of exceptional artists from around the world.

In addition to collaborating with artists from our home country, Turkey, we have successfully worked with artists from Finland, Estonia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Venezuela, Switzerland, Israel, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Without a doubt, diversity applies not only to geography. While we begin by focusing on a specific country or region and conduct extensive research about its ecosystem with the support of local curators to come up with a shortlist, we carefully evaluate the themes and mediums that we have showcased so far to capture and bring something new to our audience each time. We constantly shift gears. This is an intentional choice. We want our community to continue the discovery process.

Quality control and accessibility go hand in hand. We need to preserve our “art world” aesthetic while expanding the business online by embracing different audiences. 

Zarastro Art aims to integrate contemporary art into everyday life. Can you share some examples of how your platform has achieved this?

Zarastro Art allows its community to immerse themselves in an ever-changing collection of contemporary art and engaging content from the comfort of their own homes.

We pride ourselves on offering an extensive online exhibition space featuring renowned artists, alongside our curated “New Voices” section, which highlights the work of emerging talents in a concise and accessible format. Additionally, our “Guide” section delivers insightful articles and news from the art world, free from fluff. We believe in dismantling “artspeak” and fostering a welcoming environment for all. Our weekly newsletter and social media channels offer valuable exclusive coverage.

What are your long-term visions for Zarastro Art, especially in terms of creating unique experiences that inspire new ways of thinking and creating? 

Our ultimate goal, akin to that of every other player in the creative sector, extends far beyond profit maximization. We do not merely showcase art for the purpose of selling; rather, our aim is to cultivate a meaningful connection between artists and art lovers to ensure the sustainability of our endeavors. 

A deeper connection between the two will inevitably give birth to unique experiences. 

As an art lover, when you understand the narrative of the work you appreciate and become acquainted with the artist who created it, the process of discovering and acquiring art becomes a distinctive experience in itself. It broadens your horizon, encouraging you to contemplate art in a more sophisticated manner. 

The artist, motivated to produce and deriving greater satisfaction from intellectual engagement with a specific audience, produces more profound works. The cycle continues and expands with a snowball effect. As a platform, our raison d’être is to better the world of art through this very cycle.

What do you see as the biggest challenge in the contemporary art world today, and how is Zarastro Art addressing it?

Physical galleries and fairs worldwide struggle to expand their audience beyond a select group of collectors, unable to reach younger art lovers. This is due to the intimidation factor experienced by this audience.

On the online side, buyers feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of options and/or make poor choices, both financially and artistically. There is a lack of contextual information available on various marketplaces.

We address these challenges by offering works that possess depth and significance, while ensuring accessibility beyond pricing. As mentioned, if artists and their works are better understood by society, then there will be a simultaneous increase in the appreciation of art. Through online exhibitions, we provide the necessary context to fully appreciate the artworks and enhance the viewing experience. 

By facilitating the discovery process from the comfort of people’s home and presenting a monthly showcase of diverse artists, themes, and mediums, we envision a transformative shift in the global distribution and consumption of contemporary art.

Given the evolving landscape of digital and physical art, how does Zarastro Art utilize technology to enhance the user experience?

We are working hard to enhance the experience by consistently seeking ways to augment it with technology. However, it is crucial to emphasize that this does not imply adopting popular solutions without thoughtful consideration of the essence of our work.

For example, in the case of AI, we leverage it to enhance the efficiency of our team. However, we refrain from employing it in our primary workstreams, such as the discovery process. Mind you, some other platforms offer this as their main service, let alone employing it in their own workstreams.

The decision stems from our belief that our unique value in the art world lies in careful manual curation. We benefit from technology to explore avenues that will render virtual storytelling on par with, or superior to, physical exhibitions.

Imogen Marsteller – We Are More Than The Victims They Make Us Out to Be

The name Zarastro is inspired by a character from Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’. Could you elaborate on the story behind the name? And how come does having a .ART domain weave into this?

The Magic Flute, Mozart’s masterpiece, holds a special place as one of my favorite works of art. I will not disclose too much, but within the overall narrative of the opera, Sarastro, the high priest of the Temple of the Sun, is initially perceived as an evil character. However, he eventually emerges as a character illuminating the path to profound truth, boundless wisdom, and ultimate happiness, bringing the main characters (lovers) together.

We have to admit that in the art world, middlemen are typically not well-received due to the cut they take from each sale. Yet, the middleman, at least in our case, aspires to have a special role in the lives of both sides and truly earn that commission. In light of our vision, we want to create the Sarastro effect.

The alteration from “Sarastro” to “Zarastro” was implemented to ensure a universally understandable pronunciation. The incorporation of the .ART domain serves to distinguish the company name from a successful racing horse in Australia!

Joking aside, .ART is the market standard, one of the few things in the art world that has been embraced by everybody. We are delighted to use it and integrate it into our brand name.

Here are some examples of available domains inspired by this article: now.art / newvoices.art / Turkish.art / mozart.art / fiction.art / adventuresome.art  > Purchase yours now at our flagship store get.art or through your preferred registrar.