The art market is steeped in exclusivity – saturated with prestigious signatures with price tags to match. This automatically instates an economic hierarchy in the art world, meaning many are excluded from the luxury of buying art. In the wake of the ongoing cost of living crisis, home refurnishing has been bumped down the list of necessities, yet there is one way to avoid shedding the big bucks in the name of art.
Wondering People is a curated art collective co-founded by Isabella Rothman and Sophie Merrell that sources original and editioned works by British and international artists. The collective was launched in March 2020 and offers a space for art collectors to buy affordable artworks, while giving artists an opportunity to sell their works and build up their artist profiles.
Rothman and Merrell, who are avid champions of emerging talent, currently represent fifty creatives, all of whom exhibit their work via the platform the collective offers.
HELLO! spoke to Wondering People about the financial and creative benefits of sourcing art from up-and-coming artists. Plus, how to go about choosing art for your personal space.
“We give art collectors anywhere in the world the chance to buy art from artists who they might never have discovered,” the duo note. “We work collaboratively with our clients to provide tailored suggestions, whilst taking care of all elements including shipping and framing.”
The pair, who previously worked for creative agencies in Amsterdam, detail how they had friends who were struggling to get a foothold into the art world, especially if they had recently graduated from art school. They also recognised that other friends wanted to begin sourcing work but were overwhelmed with the density of the market and unsure how or where to start looking when they had a restrictive budget.
“When an artist becomes recognised, especially if they’re represented by a high-end gallery, prices can soar. This doesn’t mean that emerging artists’ work are any less good or special,” the co-founders note. “There are either massive online art platforms such as Artsy, or the traditional physical gallery which to us was unaffordable.”
This is where the work of Wondering Collective steps in. “By buying through Wondering People you are supporting up-and-coming artists by helping them become more established in the competitive art world.” Not to mention, there’s a wider price range for buyers to explore.
From £15 exhibition posters to £120 photographic prints, £60 stoneware items to £75 vases, there are a host of affordable pieces offered by the collective for sale online. Of course, many works teeter on the more lavish end of the pricing scale, yet all buyers (and budgets) are considered.
With so many artists under their belt, how do the pair go about discovering new talent? “Social media, art degree shows, artist applications, small and independent exhibitions both online and physical, art magazines, word of mouth,” the list goes on.
“We love choosing artists who work in all mediums, from painting to textiles, ceramics to photography,” the twosome detail. “We’re looking for originality, imaginativeness, and a dedication to practice. We also keep in mind the background of the artist, the types of materials they use, and that they aren't following any kind of trend.”
While sifting through Wondering People’s colourful archive of works, you are confronted by a kaleidoscopic array of pieces. The co-founders offer some advice on how to go about choosing artwork, not just depending on your current home space, but also instinct.
“Go for something that resonates with you, that when you look at it you get a feeling inside you. Something you connect with. There’s not necessarily a reason as to why it clicks for you but sometimes it just does.”
“Begin with the space you want to fill, take measurements, think of a colour you are drawn to. Know your budget. Think about the medium. Are you leaning towards a photographic print, a painting, a drawing?”
Not only is the collective catalysing the democratisation of the art sphere but also incorporating diversity into what is historically considered to be an industry founded upon social class divisions. Granted, if a Picasso or Reubens is what you’re searching for, then Sotheby’s may be a better fit. But for a younger wave of art enthusiasts, collectives such as Wondering People are a great place to start the search – and have fun with it.
HELLO!’s top affordable picks from Wondering People:
For more information, visit wonderingpeople.com. Wondering People have an exhibition coming up at Nunnery Gallery, Bow Arts Trust from September 13-17, which will include works by 14 British and international artists with a focus on photography.