The HIYA online gallery has become a reference in urban culture. Abdallah Slaiman, its co-founder, shares his vision of the digital art market and explains how this young company goes further to support its community by supporting the artists and creating original events.
Abdallah, could you tell us a few words about yourself and your background ?
I grew up on horseback between Corsica, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, before settling in France to study law at La Sorbonne.
Resolutely cosmopolitan, with a great sensitivity to the cultural and social challenges of our time, I seek to propagate a vision of the world alternative to the acceleration and the dispersion that technologies print in our daily life.
You are co-founder of HIYA, an online urban art gallery, how did the idea come about?
With HIYA, we want to give an essential place to artists, give them a voice and create tools to enable them to generate new sources of income. It is for this reason that HIYA is not just a gallery, but a new medium on urban cultures, an event producer and also an online contemporary urban art gallery.
On the gallery there is a real opportunity in terms of the market of course. The art market represents more than 50 billion euros worldwide with an online share which is constantly growing and now represents around 10% of the art market. Thanks to artists like Banksy, Kaws, JR, JonOne, André and others, as well as the appearance of a new generation of “millennial” collectors, street art has become very attractive. At the same time it carries values, generators of meaning, but while remaining relatively accessible.
Why urban art?
"The great artists are not the transcribers of the world, they are the rivals", said Malraux to us. Urban artists even more. Through their approaches and creations, they often ask us about our world and allow us to question ourselves. So you just have to wander the streets to be able to admirer their works which are therefore accessible to all, it is this generosity which is fascinating.
How many are you on the HIYA team? How are you organized?
We are two founders, with a team of 6 people. We are developing different projects: our print and digital media, the events we produce and an artist booking platform, and finally our online gallery. We are also supported by a Strategic Committee which advises us and with which we define the 3-5 year strategy for our company with the ambition of becoming a benchmark integrated media group on urban cultures.
Your artistic community is growing. How many artists does HIYA bring together?
We collaborate with artists on different projects, today more than a hundred have participated with us in our different initiatives.
You are in charge of relations with the artists. How are they chosen?
By their talent obviously. The historic artists with whom we are building our project also advise me in the choices.
Your activities go beyond selling art online, what are they?
We organize events to bring the community together, notably very lively exhibitions in which we can admirer artworks, but also attend live showcases or dance performances. Also we are producing the biggest festival of urban cultures “REVOLUTION” which unfortunately cannot take place this summer as initially planned due to the health crisis.
How do you differentiate yourself from other online urban art galleries?
We have a startup DNA, we grew up in the incubator of the Corsica Inizià region and the accelerator of the HAVAS Group at Station F, and in this spirit we try to be at the crossroads between a gallery with a real selection, but also a very agile way of working to exploit the enormous potential of the internet and allow new collectors to discover these talented artists through digital marketing.
What is the average price of artworks purchased online?
50% of works purchased online are on average 1000 euros.
Interview by Eleftheria Kasoura