Aug 1, 2018

How do you make sure that an artwork is going to last? Archivist offers a simple answer: You archive it.

Art only really matters once it’s been archived. Or, more appropriately: art is brought into public consciousness when there’s a record of it. You hear about people discovering a rare piece of art every now and then, and usually, you don’t really think about where those pieces came from.

The thing is, a lot of times those “newly discovered pieces” were just collecting dust at some random person’s house somewhere. It’s not that that piece of work stopped existing, it’s just that no one bothered to keep a record of it. Even in worst case scenarios, like when the piece of art itself is destroyed, its existence is still committed into cultural memory once it’s archived. If you must, we know about the Library of Alexandria and the works that were burned with it because of the historical records that showed that.

nolisoli arts archivist art collection
Photo courtesy of

This is particularly important in the Philippines because even though the art industry is experiencing a boom, a lot of buyers and would-be collectors are still just as ignorant about art collecting, archiving, maintenance, and all that good stuff, as they were years ago. A lot of art becomes unnoticed, and a lot of people don’t understand how important their piece is.

Most people think of art as just décor. It’s a common enough story: I know people who have Amorsolos and Ben Cabs and rare lithographs (you know, the kind ripe for discovering) adorning their non-airconditioned sala, practically exposed to sunlight.

This is where Archivist steps in. The people behind the group, Reggie Aquino, Danielle Isabela, and Kristoffer Del Villar, decided to team up to fill that gap between the buyers and the art industry. They catalog your collection, appraise it, and help you take care of it. They can even help set you up if you’re looking to buy, loan, or sell a specific piece—an incredibly helpful thing because, as the Archivist team informed me, art brokers can give you exaggerated prices.

The Archivist team, all from different sides of the art industry, take care of everything for you. “Think of us as your personal banker, but with art,” Reggie Aquino, the managing director, says. “If you’re busy, you’re not updating. We do it for you.”

When talking about their job duties, they remarked that a lot of people think, “I can do this myself.” However, the people who say that usually don’t, either because they don’t have the time or the actual know-how. People can under- or over-praise their items. If you’ve seen the first episode of Gordon Ramsey’s Hotel Hell, you’d have seen the bumbling manor owners who kept on collecting paintings and antiques (and storing them horribly) instead of managing their hotel, thinking that if everything went south, they could at least sell their massive collection at a profit. These people had hedged their bets on their entire collection—only to find out in the show that it was a dud. Keeping a collection isn’t as easy as it looks, but it’s a lot easier if someone else is doing the provenance for you.

Danielle Isabel, the associate director, remarks that they noticed the need for a company like theirs when they realized that not a lot of people have a personal attachment to their collections. When you’re not keeping up with its history, that piece of art has no personal bearing on you, and you don’t take care of it well.

“In fact, some people just buy art to sell it for a profit after,” says Kristoffer Del Villar, also associate director, who explains that it’s a bit of a fool’s game if you don’t understand the industry. “You can sell this piece for P1 million and then see in the news soon after that the same piece has been sold for a record-breaking price at P7 million.” What Archivist tries to do is help their clients find their emotional center when it comes to their collections. After all, when you own a piece of art, you’re situated within that piece’s history. Once you realize that, you start appreciating its value.

nolisoli arts archivist art collection
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

With Archivist, part of embracing your collection’s history is also making sure that it outlives you. It manages that by digitizing your collection and storing it online.

In truth, the Philippines is still very much behind when it comes to the online world. Some archives don’t bother with digitizing their collections, or if they do, it’s not done very well. What these places haven’t realized, and what Archivist has, is that digitizing your collection not only ensures that you’re going to have a permanent record of that item, but it also ensures that your collection is going to live on. If you put it on a piece of hardware, it can easily get lost, but that’s not the same case online (the adage, “The internet never forgets,” comes to mind). Archivist also uses a software wherein you can plug in and easily access all the information you need on a specific piece. We belong to a time where everything is backed up on the “cloud,” so to speak, so why not back up our collections, too?

Digitizing it also makes it easier for clients to view their collection. “It’s like having a custom gallery on your phone,” Aquino remarks. You can even specify how you want it presented on the app—it can make it look like your own sala, or a private gallery. Archivist’s clients will have an easier time finding a piece that they want, and they can show off their collections to their friends online. In the age of the internet, your heart is online. Archivist makes sure that your art is too.

A by-product of letting their clients embrace the personal in art is that art becomes a lot more accessible to buyers. In line with that, Archivist is also making web content to keep people up to date with all things artsy.

If you’re interested in learning more about the company, you can visit their website, Facebook page, or Instagram account.

Here’s to using technology to make art more meaningful.


Featured image courtesy of Pexels

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