The Art of Innovation

On June 20, 2011, in Chinnovation, Home & Garden, by Tan Yinglan

Shannon and Cailin are two of my proudest students who started Artyii, an online art sales platform for Asian artists. I have also submitted this article to China Daily, so you might see an edited version of this. You can also read more about Artyii being showcased here. The article mentioned that they responded to a professor’s challenge to start their company – so I am probably guilty of that accolade.

The Art of Innovation


Image representing Artyii as depicted in Crunc...

China has overtaken United Kingdom as the second largest market for fine arts globally. In 2010, some 23% of fine arts trade took place in China. This reflects China’s tremendous progress not only as an economic powerhouse, but also as a society that appreciates the beauty and complexity that art brings.

The exponential growth of China’s art scene is evident, even having gone through a financial crux in 2008. World-renowned artists like Zhang Xiaogang notched milestones selling an oil painting for a record auction price of $10.1 million in April this year. The National Museum of China stands proudly as the biggest museum in the world. 798 Art Zone, also known as Dashanzi Art District, houses more than 50 galleries and art centres, attracting scores of tourists each year. Reaching beyond its borders, China has also been involved in international collaborations such as Exchange 2011 at Singapore’s Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, showcasing three generations of artists from China and Singapore.

Forbes, an international business magazine, has touted online art commerce to be the next trend for art purchases. Internet however, had a turbulent history with art. The most famous being Sotheby’s million-dollar failed partnership with Amazon and eBay a decade ago. Today, as people are more accustomed to buying luxury items online, art may have finally found its place in the dotcom universe.

For many Chinese artists, making sales is not the sole objective of an online presence. A website provides a round-the-clock exhibition space. Artists can showcase their art and garner interest with ease. Most importantly, it is an avenue to build relationships with art lovers globally. Compared to a traditional physical gallery, this is definitely the fastest and most cost-effective distribution.

The art industry has evolved tremendously with the internet, it leaves one wondering if there can be further innovation. Tianjin Cultural Artwork Exchange pushed the frontiers when they released a new exchange allowing investors to buy shares in paintings. Introducing a revolutionary new idea like this is commonly equated to innovation. At the same time, innovation can simply be an idea that injects a refreshing angle towards providing a need – Artyii, an online art sales platform for Asian artists is a case in point.

To become a good artist, having excellent academic background is merely solving half of the puzzle. The continuous growth comes with introspection, interaction and experience. Renowned artists like Liu Xiaodong cite experiences in Taiwan, USA and Spain as crucial in his development. Perspectives he gained from foreign artists in the likes of Freud, Fischer, Cals, Watteau, and Manet allowed him to extract strengths from their style to hone his own.

Artyii, established a year ago, aims to create a powerful Asian artist community to promote art sales and be the focal point for learning exchanges for artists. Artyii identified that cross-countries and cultures influences are imperative in grooming future Liu Xiaodongs. While there are art institutions like Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing to facilitate exchanges, the online space was untouched.

Why Asian art? When interviewed, the co-founder of Artyii (, Ng Cai Lin said, “Many would name famous names like Picasso and Van Gogh when asked about art. What about Asian artists? There is enormous talent in Asia, the hunger and creativity to succeed is unmistaken.” Co-founder, Shannon Lim adds that art in Asia is largely fragmented due to language barriers. Artyii is therefore created for buyers and artists to view the diverse art range in Asia conveniently on its multi-lingual platform.

Artyii now boasts 500 members, and is being entrusted with 1,500 pieces of art. Each artist is verified to ensure that they hold original art. Online buyers stem mainly from South-East Asia, and stretches as far as the US. These are usually high net-worth individuals who have interests in Asian art but do not have the luxury of time to visit multiple galleries. Artyii provides price transparency and safe platform with a wide portfolio of artists from Singapore, Pakistan, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, and beyond. China now has the second highest number of billionaires globally and Chinese buyers outbidding Americans and Europeans at auctions are already a common sight. The demand for Asian art is poised to take-off – and Artyii is ready to ride on this trend. With South-East Asian art well-represented online, Artyii now hopes to attract more Chinese artists onboard to share their art.

Diversity of ideas breeds insights, creativity, and innovations in art. Similar to artists like Liu Xiaodong, and those before him, the marriage of minds drives artistic expression into deeper realms. This allows them to better capture the essence of emotions, society, and the world in their fascinating language – Art.



Cai Lin is the co-founder of Artyii, Asia’s leading community for emerging paint artists. Launched in November last year, Artyii offers a powerful global platform for artists to showcase original art. Over 500 artists from Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia have trusted Artyii thus far. Membership is by-invite only. Apart from sharing art, artists can communicate with gallerists and collectors online to increase their profile.

Cai Lin has experience in management consulting and worked in China for a year before establishing Artyii.

This article was crafted by Cailin with the assistance of Wan Zhi Kai, Business Development Associate at Artyii. Zhi Kai oversees the Sales & Marketing for the Corporate Art Program and contributes to the strategic development of the organisation. Growing up with artistic parents cultivated his love for the arts. Together with business acumen developed in his time at Singapore Management University’s business school, Artyii was a natural choice. Zhi Kai is also the Co-founder of Consulting for Cause Management Consultant, providing consultancy services to Non-profit Organisations. He believes that more youths should engage the global community and help alleviate issues of poverty and inequality.


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