From architecture to the art trade, Jonathan Toh of All About Art is ready for the future

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Image: Jonathan Toh

Founded during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, All About Art (formerly Featurespace Art) is a Singapore-based gallery founded by Jonathan Toh. This venture originally started as a weekend side hustle where Jon resold artworks he had collected from his previous stays abroad. Jon shared that business was conducted from his bay window for a time before moving to a proper commercial premises.

For Jon, the idea of ​​starting an art business was a natural extension of his growing passion for collecting artwork. He felt there was a lack of transparency in what was being disclosed to buyers and the hidden costs that many were unaware of. There was a sense of confusion not only within the industry but also within Jon himself.

Jonathan Toh, Founder of All About Art
Image: Royston Neo

“I made it my mission to build a Murakami piece from scratch, and I realized there was a world of difference between what was a reasonable markup and what the other galleries were trying to sell. “

After going through the process himself, Jon decided the gallery would fill the gap for both new and experienced collectors. This accessible direction Toh chose allowed him to build a community for the gallery and it helped him expand his reach to new clients.

Image: Royston Neo

Working in architecture has definitely boosted Jon’s confidence in advising clients when they are looking for a new work of art. He used the perception of space, design and colors as a guideline to then offer customers suitable options to choose from. The goal was not just to close a deal, but to actually offer good options that fit the space, budget and aesthetics.

The transition from architecture to the art trade was fluid. Jon has always been interested in the art trade and he was “less fond of plans and constructions that take two to three years”. The self-taught artist now finds satisfaction in the faster turnover rate of the arts industry, where new works of art are constantly being created and placed in homes to bring the same kind of joy to people in their homes.

Image: Royston Neo

Aside from only appreciating art for its beauty, Jon shared that appreciating art for its investment aspect is a perspective that is gaining ground among many collectors these days. Much like cryptocurrencies, watches and luxury cars are now perceived as alternative assets, contemporary art has now gained the same acceptance for the new collectible age.

People who are interested in art have often been assigned a certain age group by the crowd, perhaps the over 50s. And for this group of art collectors, art is largely confined to the few key mediums. That notion is not the case, however, according to Jon, who has observed that more and more people are embracing contemporary art styles and new media. Artists like Takashi Murakami, Roby Dwi Antono, Javier Calleja and others are at the top of many collectors’ lists.

These artists are joined by a younger demographic, Jon estimates that collectors who visit his gallery range in age from 30 to 42. This group represents a new wave of art collecting. “A very good mix of people buying for their first home, their first office, to start a collection, to trade their positions for other assets, and to see art as another hobby source to seriously invest money in.”

Image: Royston Neo

Jon’s gallery features a variety of artwork from established and emerging artists. Unlike other art galleries in Singapore, where there is that “invisible push” for local artists, Jon believes in doing what catches his eye, regardless of nationality or location. He is also open to artist recommendations from collectors and partner galleries.

Only after establishing a real relationship with the artists will Jon consider collaborating with them. Currently, the profile of the artists he represents includes various nationalities such as British, Malaysian, Thai, Indonesian, Brazilian, Dutch, Russian and more. In addition to a team of international artists, Jon also has a worldwide fan base. The gallery had sent artworks to countries like Indonesia, China, South Korea and even Canada.

Mentioning collecting and buying art, NFT is a related topic that often comes to mind and Jon is no stranger to this topic as many clients have asked about it as well. For Jon, “NFT is another vertical of art.” Rather than looking at NFT from a zero-sum approach, it should be a win-win as art in the physical world can still benefit from the emergence of this digital asset. Jon is most looking forward to the convergence of NFTs and art. For him, it is the usefulness of these two assets that fascinates him the most.

Image: Royston Neo

At the moment, Jon is still researching how to integrate both elements into the gallery. One thought that came to Jon’s mind was using NFTs as a digital authentication tool, allowing customers to authenticate their purchases. This is just one of several areas of expansion Jon has for the gallery.

His company’s recent rebranding also signaled bigger goals he’s trying to achieve. Featurespace Art has changed its name to All About Art, an evolution from a “featured art space” to a business that will include other art disciplines such as shows, art residency and logistics. Essentially, All About Art hopes to cover every aspect of the art collecting journey.

In the near future, starting March 4th, the gallery will host an exhibition that will last for a month. Titled JOGJA: The Next Chapter, it will showcase six emerging artists that Jon has spawned and is happy to share with the community.

To learn more about All About Art (Featurespace Art), follow their Instagram: @allaboutart_gallery. To visit the All About Art website, click here.

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