ArtSpotter was created by UK-based Raphaëlle Heaf, who has worked in the contemporary art world for more than 10 years. This ambitious new app marries her love of mapping, architecture, tech and art. Thus far, ArtSpotter has picked up funding from Ignite100, the largest accelerator program in Europe, one angel investor and two founding galleries.
ArtSpotter just launched in the Apple App Store on December 1, so it's still new and growing. For now, the top ArtSpotter cities are London, Berlin, Paris, Munich and New York because these are cities that Heaf herself knows best. ArtSpotter is also working with events in the UK (the London Art Fair is one of them), and also speaking with others in Europe and the U.S. If ArtSpotter can aggregate data and content from the right places, this app has a chance at reaching its goal.
One of the biggest problems that any local arts community has is trying to build a comprehensive guide to art openings that encompasses both smaller artist-run spaces and larger commercial galleries. This is something I've experienced first-hand in my previous role as a Chicago art critic. As arts budgets dried up, hyperlocal publications had to cut down on art show listings. I brought this up with Heaf, who said it was definitely "one of my big pain points from both sides." That's why she decided to make user-generated content a big part of the ArtSpotter app. Every time someone adds new information to ArtSpotter, whether it's an event or a photo of the exhibition, the gallery receives an email.
Right now, she says that her and her team are working on the website to make sure that content from the gallery and from users is presented with equal emphasis. Heaf is also working on a feed from partnerships in addition better general search. For now, Heaf selects picks in the "top picks" section, but she tells me that her and her team are in talks with curators and critics, who will make the selections more credible.
Thus far, London is one of the main cities on ArtSpotter.
ArtSpotter has yet to hit St. Louis - it could use some help from users.
The homescreen defaults to Spot, a feature that pinpoints all the nearest galleries based on the user's current location. (You must turn location on in order to use this app.) Users sign up for a profile and are able to "follow" each other for similar recommendations. To see what other users have selected as their top picks from different cities, go to the "Collections" feature. Like any app, this one depends on regular use.
Personalization plays a large role in further ArtSpotter developments. Next year, Heaf and her team will be tweaking the "follow" feature so that it understands what artists interest you based on your interactions with the app. That way, ArtSpotter will be able to recommend more exhibitions and art venues that it thinks you will like.
For now, ArtSpotter is only available on the iPhone. It will start rolling out for other platforms next year.
Art aficionados and friends, how do you like this app? Give us your reactions in the comments below.