Art attack - Roth Management
Founded in 2009 in London, with a professional team whose experiences and networks reach into all industries, Roth Management offers a variety of services in the art world. It specializes in consulting, art fund management, asset allocation, art investment, public art, commissions, licensing and international curatorial projects.
Managing director Ryan Roth says he founded the company after seeing so many artists feel defeated before they had a chance to have their voices heard. When a person wants to invest in art, Roth links them to artists for licensing. He goes back and forth between London and Tokyo.
Tell us a little about your background.
I was born in Southampton, England and what seems like another lifetime now, I studied law and psychology at university. I then traveled and saw the world, doing some humanitarian work and all the time I was attending art events and researching the art world. By living in different countries and living in some of the biggest cities in the world (London, Paris, Tokyo, Sydney, Los Angeles, Auckland) and traveling to over 50 countries, it allowed me to see the art world, through a very different perspective to most other people in the industry.
What work did you do before you founded Roth Management in 2009?
I was doing some humanitarian work, but mainly traveling and researching the art world.
Why did you establish Roth Management?
For a few reasons. Firstly, I recognized I had a unique perspective of the art world and my connections in different countries, could be very beneficial to an art business. Second, I saw a great number of galleries not looking out for the best interests of artists, only caring about their own interests and not the career or well being of the artists. Third, I recognised a great lack of taste in the industry and a lack of new talent coming through, who could have long lasting careers.
What services do you offer?
Art investment advice, curating, interior design consultation, public art works, artist career guidance, artist public relations and art direction.
Who are your typical clients – what percent corporate and individuals?
60% corporate and 40% private.
Where are you based?
The office is in London, but I’m rarely there. I’m usually in the U.S., Europe and Asia. I have been based in Japan for the last six months and expect to be spending a lot of time in Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing and Seoul in the next few years. Of all the places I’ve lived, I think Tokyo is the best city for many reasons and one of them is the food. It’s unbelievable how much pride Japanese people put into their cooking and anything they are involved in, shows a great deal about the culture and artists have that same pride.
Are you planning to open an office and gallery in Tokyo?
I have been looking at Tokyo for the last six months, looking to see where I feel it would be best to open a gallery. So far, I think Ginza or Omotosando would be the best location. But we will see where it will be. I’m looking at opening in 2014/15, once I have built the right team and found the right location.
In general, how did the Lehman Shock, the eurozone crisis and last year’s disaster in Japan affect the art investment business?
It hasn’t really affected it so much, as there is a lot to be said for a company which has great art on the walls. It gives a wonderful first impression and as for investing, I give people different options whether it is an already established artist we can buy art from, who of course would have a high fee, or a newer artist whose works will appreciate in the next few years.
What is the biggest obstacle that aspiring artists face?
Confidence - knowing how to market themselves. Artists are great at making art and as a whole, they do not want to deal with business and why should they? They can do something I don’t and working with someone like us, who look out for their best interests, rather than just the bottom line, is important for an artist. So they can create and not worry so much about the other things. Unfortunately, many galleries who claim to look out for the best interests of the artists, do not. They only care about what makes them the commission and not about the long-term career of the artist.
What are some different attitudes toward investing in art for the office or home that you have noticed between Japanese and European clients?
Older Japanese seem to be interested in older European styles, rather than more contemporary, while Europeans seem to look more at contemporary. With offices/companies, they all seem to go for contemporary art or at least the people who contact me, as my area of expertise is focused on contemporary art from Japan, Singapore, China, Korea, UK, France. Although I know a lot about contemporary art in other markets, these are the markets I am most interested in.
As an art investment advisor, are you also an art expert? How far back does your interest in art go?
Yes, you could call me an art expert in the areas I mentioned. I have little interest in anything but contemporary art, as much as I might appreciate it. I have mixed feelings about cubism and art where I see a complete lack of ability. People say everything is art, but I differ in my opinion. When I see art, if I feel like I could have done that myself, I have no interest.
Have you ever done any painting yourself?
Yes. My personal works will be a great exercise in trying to let someone else represent me. As I don’t think you should represent yourself, especially when I represent artists. I will release my works in 2014/2015. But they are all based around politics and real social issues. For example, I have created a series of pieces which depict the mass loss of life, through pointless wars. They are blank canvases with areas of dark red, depicting the area of the world which had wars in various years.