A chat with The Tax Collection: a contemporary Instagram art gallery


Can Instagram become the new art contemporary border? @taxcollection is the account that show us that yes, Instagram can legitimate a young artist more than a cult gallery. This “no aesthetic” project, as Max Berman and Tanner Steslow, the two co founders of TAX and head curators, defines it, is sure that all art deserves recognition, and all creativity must be praised. Max and Tanner told us everything about The Tax collection in this interview.


@sarashakeel via @visual.fodder | DM to submit #thetaxcollection

A post shared by The TAX Collection (@taxcollection) on May 8, 2018 at 11:27am PDT


When and how did The Tax Collection project begin?

While we were still in University, we had run into the all too common problem that most artists come across in regards to exposure and having our own work featured both online and in publications. After receiving quite a few not-so-nice rejections, we realized that there was as crucial service that was missing to emerging artists. For us, it all started with Instagram in 2015. Using the platform as a way to share artwork from around the world, seemed like the most natural first step in bridging the gap between artist and audience. As our relationships with artists and the community we were becoming a part of grew, so did our ability to collaborate and take those artists from a digital realm, and bring them into physical spaces in the real world. The past two years we’ve been very fortunate in being able to work with galleries and institutions to bring fresh rosters of artists who we believe are truly breaking the mold and are challenging the way we all think about art as an industry and a mode of expression.


How would you describe the Tax collection aesthetic?

We prefer to think that our aesthetic is actually the absence of aesthetic. It’s incredibly important to us not only as a brand, but also in our individual beliefs that no specific style of art be held above another. We believe that “trends” are the antithesis of creative freedom and wanted to offer artists a space that didn’t cater to any one trend in particular. It’s integral to us that every artist has a chance at equal representation and visibility, regardless of the “aesthetic” they fit into or create.


work by @quesadilladad | DM to submit #thetaxcollection

A post shared by The TAX Collection (@taxcollection) on May 7, 2018 at 11:36am PDT


What does an artist need to show to be a partner of The Tax collection?

Passion for what you do as an artist is always going to be a defining factor in success. While we don’t look for anything in particular, we believe it’s important to work with individuals who are contributing not just to the conversations happening in the contemporary art world, but also the human experience as a whole.


How does it work the Instagram gallery?

From our conception, our social media has always been submissions based and almost entirely dictated by the work we receive from artists around the world. Artists can always submit by direct messaging us and submitting through our website.


Is there a difference between an art gallery in the real world and an Instagram gallery?

We’re at a very interesting point where social media influence is regarded just as highly than a gallery an artist is showing in. Part of our mission is to really change the idea that an artist is considered legitimate or successful only if they perform in a white box gallery in a global art capital. There are certain indisputable benefits working with physical galleries such as name recognition and exposure to clients lists that are decades in the making, however we’re definitely in a place now where artists are able to make names for themselves by cultivating their own followings and collector bases through social media exposure and press.


@ayakveronica | DM to submit #thetaxcollection

A post shared by The TAX Collection (@taxcollection) on May 6, 2018 at 8:40am PDT

How has social media and the internet changed the contemporary art scene?

One of the most obvious and most advantageous evolutions of the contemporary art scene is the usefulness that social media and digital platforms have been able to provide not only to artists, but collectors and galleries as well. While visibility is becoming increasingly more important to reach new clients, social media platforms have not only become the new artist portfolio, but also can act as a gallery’s most forefront effort in regards to branding. It helped expose the industry to an entirely new generation of artists, collectors, and art enthusiasts who might have otherwise been previously left out of the conversation.


How does Instagram influence your work?

We make it a point to actually not have “Instagram” affect the work we do too much. Our favorite part of our job is seeing the daily happenings and creations of artists in our community, but Instagram can at times reflect trends and aesthetics that limit an artist chances of exposure, simply because they don’t fit into a certain look or box. Instagram is after all a visual platform and it’s important that we keep true to our mission while still appreciating everything that’s happening within the instagram art community.


Where do you see The Tax collection in the next 10 years?

Flipping the art world on it’s head.


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