Entrepreneur  Sneha Shah is the mastermind behind her Fine Art company Curaty, an art advisory firm that infiltrates the philosophy of mindfulness and spirituality when it comes to art curation and collecting. Curaty is now celebrating a success of 5 years as one of the leading Fine Art companies and plans to take this success further. We spoke with Sneha to discuss the controversies, beauty and the future that fine art has to offer.
Where did the name Curaty come from?
Curaty literally means to Curate with a why, hence Curat’y’. It has its origin in the greek word curio, which means curiosity or the want to know.  But, what I loved about it is the history of the word curate (n), which in the late 14th century alluded to a spiritual guide, ecclesiastic responsible for the spiritual welfare of those in their charge, and was derived from Medieval Latin curatus which means "one responsible for the care (of souls)." As a socially conscious art advisory firm, this association felt right. For me, if art is food for the soul, curating is essentially a spiritual act. It’s the journey of creating patterns, we’re connecting experiences, moments and expressions of different people in a manner that’s relatable and meaningful to the audience - the observer, collector, visitor. The goal is for our work to fundamentally shift the energy within a being from before an encounter with our work to after, because that is the power of art.
In 2019, I asked myself what is the art industry missing? Where is the gap? There are people that can afford art that aren’t connecting with it, why? As a strategy, I spent a day on the Jubilee line between Canary Wharf and Green Park asking 200 people, Do they have Art? If not, why? How do they feel about it? And the responses that I got were “oh, it's not for me”, “it goes over my head,” “It's too expensive.” As an art school graduate, I wanted to burst this limiting belief/myth. The why for Curaty was discovered, we set out to develop turn key solutions to make the collecting journey more accessible, powered by education, and developing our clients own perceptions, be it in hospitality, residential or workspaces. So at Curaty the why is expressed through the value we create through our service  in deeply understanding our clients, their  brand, culture, and journey before prescribing the right art solution (advisory, leasing, commissioning, workshops or collections management).
Your company seeks to create an ethos regarding spirituality  that many art lovers seek when engaging in fine art. How do you incorporate this theme in Curaty?
Spirituality is like art and can mean so many different things to many different people. Universally, it’s the acknowledgement that there is something beyond us, beyond the human sensory experience. When you love a piece of art or open yourself to its experience, you’re partaking in an experience which is not too dissimilar. At Curaty, we see it as our responsibility to truly understand the shape, form and feeling this takes on for our clients, and manifest the experience across their engagement with us. Art itself is an expression of divine energy, as displayed by artists like Agnes Martin in her waiting for inspiration. Every artwork is an opportunity to go on a journey. It’s the thing I love the most about our work. It's less about what will look good in the space and more about who is the space for? What is their intention in the space and how can we support that? Can art be something in that space that really inspires that sense of calm, meditative state the users are aspiring for? And this intentionality is visible across our projects and client experiences.
How does Curaty make an impact with art?
At Curaty, we believe in the transformative power of art, not just as a visual medium but as a catalyst for emotional well-being and spiritual growth. Our impact stems from three core principles: accessibility, education, and engagement.
Firstly, we strive to make art accessible to a broader audience. By curating collections that span a diverse range of themes, palettes, and genres, we ensure that art resonates with individuals from all walks of life, not just the traditional art elite. This inclusivity breaks down the barriers that have historically made art feel out of reach for many.
Education plays a pivotal role in our approach. We demystify the art world for our clients, providing them with the knowledge and confidence to appreciate and invest in art. Through workshops, talks, and exhibitions, we foster a deeper understanding of art's value and significance, encouraging a culture of informed collectors and enthusiasts.
Engagement is the final, but perhaps most impactful, aspect of our work. Curaty champions the patronage of exceptionally talented early-career artists, offering them platforms to showcase their work across public, private, and digital spaces. We pride ourselves on helping artists make their first sale. This not only supports emerging talent but also ensures our clients have access to unique, thought-provoking pieces that provoke conversation and inspire contemplation.
Moreover, we're committed to curating art with a purpose. Whether it's through leasing, commissioning, or managing art collections, our goal is to create spaces that evoke feelings of well-being, tranquility, and inspiration. By integrating art into everyday environments—be it in hospitality, workplaces, or residential settings—we make art an integral part of people's lives, enhancing their surroundings and, by extension, their quality of life. We monitor the materials an artwork has been made with, the shipping and logistics to be as sustainable as possible, it’s a journey we’re committed to.
In essence, Curaty's impact lies in our dedication to using art as a tool for positive change, aligning with our belief that art should be synonymous with a feeling, touching the soul just as much as it pleases the eye.
You’ve spoken in recent podcasts about the current direction that's taking place with Curaty, what is the journey all about?
Five years is a very auspicious moment. Five in numerology means change, it means a shift and that's what I've been feeling and seeing with Curaty as well. It's a moment where we reflect on where we've been and where we see ourselves growing towards. We’ve truly changed perspective about how our clients view and engage with works of art, brought life and dynamism into spaces and a sense of connectedness within their communities. We’ve enabled real relationships and patronage through our work, and have really aspired to be there for the artists in our community. This new phase of Curaty will go deeper into enabling these relationships, it’s one of community and establishing the connection between why art matters, its true power within our lives and across the built environment.While we're eager to share more about our rebrand and the directions we're taking, we're also savouring a bit of mystery. What I can promise is that this evolution of Curaty will bring to the forefront the profound connections between art, spaces, and the communities that engage with them, showcasing the true power of art in enriching our lives and environments.
Collecting fine art has usually been reserved to the elite, those who had the money and the education to appreciate certain forms of art. However, things are shifting, and more people are having access to the knowledge and the money. I'm curious to know if you've noticed this shift, or if this shift is precisely what's enabled Curaty to blossom and thrive.
Absolutely, I've witnessed this shift firsthand, and indeed, I consider myself an integral part of it. We’re more curious and introspective, we're living in a time where self-actualisation is becoming increasingly important. This was evident during the Covid pandemic when so many took to developing their creative talents and actually getting their #nakedwallsnailed. Post-pandemic, there's been a noticeable shift in people's appreciation for aesthetics. The once overlooked empty walls of our homes suddenly demanded attention, leading to a broader interest in interior design and, by extension, art. This phenomenon signifies a broader cultural shift. You now see collectors in their 20s, there’s actually research to show that Gen Z is more inclined to invest in art than in real estate. With social media and the accessibility to the studios of artists, artworks can be bought in an affordable manner, this democratisation of art collection is what excites me the most, as it presents an opportunity to bridge the gap between emerging artists and new collectors. It's a symbiotic relationship that feels like a match made in heaven, perfectly aligning with Curaty's mission to make art a tool for emotional resonance and spiritual wellbeing. Art truly is for everyone.
The Internet has played a massive role in this change. Your business has thrived in the digital realm, and I'm sure it'll keep changing as technology advances. How do you envision the future of Curaty in relation to these digital spaces and the metaverse, for example?
The digital transformation, especially during the pandemic, has indeed opened new horizons for us at Curaty. We ventured into virtual reality (VR) exhibitions, which was an exhilarating experiment. The concept of bringing people together from various parts of the world into a singular, immersive space where art transcends physical boundaries is fascinating. Imagine being represented by an avatar, moving through a virtual gallery, and having the artist's voice accompany you as you explore their work. It's not just an exhibition; it's an enchanting journey into the art itself. But amongst other technologies, I do think AI is going to be quite an interesting area in making knowledge accessible. Especially with art,  where so much of it lacked transparency before now you’ll be able to just use a learning language model to ask questions and I think it is really going to be a game changer whether people in the industry like it or not. At Curaty for me, I think that's a great thing. We're all about transparency, and it's about dropping the veil because once you do that, you really make the power of art accessible and you let people see and judge the value of it for themselves. If you keep so much of it hidden, everyone feels that it's not for them and that's literally where the gap lies. It's going to blow open the market and be a game changer, especially for digital artworks. t's an exciting time, and at Curaty, we're poised to embrace these changes, ensuring that the power of art reaches every corner of the globe, digitally and beyond.
In your website, you say that you "work with your team to ensure every artwork sourced is relevant to your business. Each artwork is carefully brought from the artist's studio to your walls." Could you give us more insight into that process? What's the relationship and synergy between Curaty's team, the clients, and the artists?
We work with artists, we also work with galleries. We do represent the clients and the beauty of that is that it allows us to really match them with the right artists for every project. There's a lot of self-healing work that happens when looking at art especially with residential clients, understanding their own journey as a family, as a couple, as an individual and then finding the right pieces for them. With our business clients we really look at their brand, their values, their ethos. What is the power in that hotel or office or restaurant, and how can we tell their story through art? Each of our projects can take anywhere between two months to six months. On the artist front, we work directly with artists  and constantly curate works that you will see on our website, deeply passionate about creating as many opportunities for artists as possible. Our process is a testament to our passion for bringing art into every space, creating connections, and telling stories that resonate.
The company has attracted successes through its recognition in entrepreneurial sectors  such as the Forbes 30 under 30. How did this acknowledgment make you feel?
The Forbes recognition was a pivotal moment of validation for both my journey and Curaty's mission. It's a rare pause that highlights our impact in the art world, especially gratifying given the industry's exclusivity. Starting Curaty in London, with no connections and straight from a History of Art background, was a leap fuelled by a desire to bridge the gap between art education and career opportunities. This accolade not only affirmed our efforts in democratising art access but also marked a personal milestone, transforming a daring idea into a tangible impact. It's a testament to our team's hard work and a reminder of the power of perseverance and vision in creating meaningful change.
Where is the future of Curaty heading?
I envision Curaty being a safe haven for anyone that wants to understand the power of art and wants to get in touch with it and themselves. I want us to be a platform, a space where each of those elements come together grounded in spirituality and psychology, but more than anything in relationships. How can we be like the art guy for every person right in the world if they have a question about art, can they call Curaty? That to me would be the direction I'm taking Curaty. I want people to really understand why art matters, why parents shouldn't worry about their kids going to art school, why being an artist is actually a great job. It's such an impactful job to society, and how you can actually make money making art. I see art as being very interconnected to the notion of abundance. If you think about it, the only time we didn't have art, or we lost connection is in the dark ages. Anytime you have moments of darkness, like in lockdown, you'll have people facing the highest levels of sadness and across the world at such young ages this is the case. I really do think art can help solve all of that, and helping people access it and knowing how to do this is where we step in. It's not just enough to have art on the wall. You need to have a person who can guide you on that journey, a sherpa, and that’s us.