Back in the day BigArtMob was originally a cultural project backed by UK broadcaster Channel 4, but now it’s being re-animated as a full-blown startup. It’s starting from an interesting – shall we say – position. It allows people to upload and tag ‘public art’ to a map, which, in simple terms, can be everything from street graffiti to an outdoor sculpture by an established artist. They make no differentiation between ‘Institutional art’, Street Art, temporary art or graffiti (that’s the interesting bit, given that not all graffiti is very artistic). But if you think it’s art and it’s on the street or out there in the wild backwoods, they plan to map it and create a community around it. This is definitely not Art.com, RiseArt, Artfinder or Artspace. Now, while Artspotter aims to do everything – street art as well as galleries and exhibition – BigArtMob will just focus on street/public art. The first 500 users can sign up for the closed beta here.
Admittedly almost every major city in the world has grass roots orgs dedicated to public art documentation and probably a thriving art scene and audience. The question is, is that enough of a draw to create some kind of traction and a business?
Well, because of their prior heritage, founder Alfie Dennen is already sitting on top of a database of 12,000 pieces of public art posted and mapped.
“We want to de-fragment how public art is documented and talked about, making a global hub for public art discovery,” he says. Dennen has a long history in this space, having won 2009’s Webby for experimental and innovation with Britglyph and run a ‘Bus-Tops’ project for London 2012.
Part of the route into this will be a sort of street art tourism, allowing people to create walking routes for a particular artist or region, and then share those with people using the iPhone app, which is planned for release. So for example you could make a Street Art only app for whatever city you are in.
From a commercial point of view BAM hopes to monetize its app’s walking routes, partner with art institutions and organisations globally, and do something with its Point Of Interest database via an API third parties can use, like regional tourist authorities and others.
But personally I think they have a better future as a sort of A&R man for the next Banksy. That’s worth millions. They could also produce illustrated books also of public art.
An iPhone app will be out in about 2 weeks.