Finding the perfect business partner is as difficult as finding the perfect lover. You need someone who understands you inside and out – someone who knows your vision and passion and is willing to bend over backwards to help you achieve it. On top of that, the perfect business partner also needs to be someone who is capable in your industry.
For Chelsea Neman, finding the ideal business partner, her friend Jordan Klein, happened pretty easily. “There was an Egon Schiele poster hanging that she saw and commented on, and I knew then that we would be friends,” she remembered.
Today, these two L.A. natives run one of the most innovative online galleries for breakout artists in L.A.’s art scene: The Tappan Collective.
Campus Circle got the chance to sit with one of the women (Neman) and talk about their journey from whispering in the library at the University of Michigan to creating their own profitable business.
Campus Circle: Let’s go back to the beginning. How did you and Jordan meet?
Chelsea Neman: Well, we have a mutual friend that introduced us. She was studying art history, and I was in the fine arts program. And we would study at the Tappan Center Library together. We always talked about doing something in the arts together.
CC: So how did you start your plans for The Tappan Collective?
CN: A year after we graduated, Jordan came to me with an idea. She noticed the trend of art moving online at the time. I was working for an interior designer, so I was seeing a need for young artists to have a platform. With these two different viewpoints, we came up with Tappan.
CC: So, Voila! Just like that Tappan was created? Were there any hardships along the way?
CN: One of the hardest parts of starting was to try to show your work online. For the longest time, artists didn’t want their work online. They were just more apprehensive. It took a little bit of convincing.
CC: Was it just you and Jordan? Did you guys have any outside help?
CN: Jordan and I are lucky to be very supported by our family. For the longest time, it was just the two of us meeting every day. We started with artists who were friends and friends of friends. Now we have people applying to be apart of Tappan.
CC: Now that The Tappan Collective is more established and on the radar, how do you and Jordan choose amongst the artists who want to be a part of Tappan?
CN: We get applicants to our website now, and there is a screening process. One thing we really look for are artists who are pursuing a career in the arts and have a dedicated workspace. We need to see they are dedicated to their practice. You are not going to find an accountant that does some art on the side on our website.
CC: What makes some applicants stick out from other artists?
CN: Well, I think we look for artists with a unique stroke. What sets artists apart are a look and a style that is uniquely theirs. Ultimately, we feel honored that people want to be on our site, and we encourage anyone to apply.
CC: Do you and Jordan ever argue about which artists get to join Tappan?
CN: Yeah, of course. All the time.
CC: How do you solve the dispute?
CN: We go back and forth a lot. It’s really fun to debate the different artists with each other. Sometimes we bring in other trusted eyes.
CC: What do you have to say to critics of Tappan who believe that art should be experienced in person rather than online?
CN: I think that there is definitely something that is still special about seeing work in person. The presence of them physically is not something we are trying to deny. Tappan is more focused on providing a platform for young artists to be able to expose art to younger artists. Most of the work we display is two dimensional, so it transfers easily to a computer. Overall, the Internet is a very powerful and prevalent place for the world to see. So, it would be a shame not to use it.
CC: Do you guys ever plan on opening an actual Tappan gallery to accompany the digital one?
CN: Right now, we are really excited about the possibilities available online. Maybe one day in the future we would like to.
For more information on the Tappan Collective, visit thetappancollective.com.