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Lara Tomaszewska

ArtRow is a disruptive digital platform for the independent buying and selling of professionally vetted artwork. Our mission is to democratize how fine art is bought and sold by providing an open marketplace based on a foundation of research, expertise, transparency, and integrity.

Tell us about yourself?

I’ve had the pleasure of spending the last 20 years building a career in fine art. The experiences I’ve had in art academia and as an advisor and appraiser in the art market have guided my professional aspirations and helped shape my perspective on the industry.

I hold a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of British Columbia, and in 2012, I founded Openwork Art Advisory, a boutique advisory firm specializing in building and shaping private and corporate collections. Over the years, I’ve also held memberships with the International Society of Appraisers, the Universities Art Association of Canada, and the Association of Art Historians (UK).

At the heart of what I do is connect people to the art they love. Art can signify many things to different people, and I get to be a conduit in finding whatever they’re looking for.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

I would tell myself to have more confidence in myself and my ideas. When starting a new venture, the “imposter syndrome” founders face can be very difficult to overcome. A lot of highly accomplished women tend to underestimate themselves and undervalue their ideas, but seeing female founders actively breaking down gender barriers has been a huge inspiration. When I finally allowed my ideas to shine, ArtRow stepped into its own as a real player in the art market.

What problem does your business solve?

Art sales have traditionally been limited to a few primary channels like galleries, auction houses, and private sales, which can feel intimidating and exclusive for new collectors and those less familiar with the art market. Artists, private collectors, and everyday sellers have also been limited to traditional channels to sell their pieces, often with significant fees and restrictive contractual agreements. ArtRow breaks down these barriers, creating a space where buyers and sellers can confidently make art investment decisions, regardless of their prior experience.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

As I witnessed the art market evolving under the weight of global conditions and other industries shifting toward digitization during the pandemic, my vision for the future of art began to take shape. Traditional galleries and auction houses across the country were forced to shutter or move online. Seeing these changes in the market inspired me to create a platform where anyone could access the artwork they love and feel confident making an investment backed by industry professionals.

What is your magic sauce?

The concept behind online art sales is not new – online galleries, auctions, and artist platforms have existed for several years. However, ArtRow is the first digital platform to provide professional art services to buyers and sellers without the barriers of traditional art-selling institutions.

The fact that everyday sellers can access ArtRow is unique from other online platforms. On ArtRow, an individual seller can apply to sell their privately owned artwork, and if accepted, they’ll receive professional art services – from suggested retail pricing to guidance on condition reporting and in-depth art descriptions. Unlike selling online through galleries and auction houses, on ArtRow, the seller also maintains possession of the artwork and is not required to have an exclusive consignment agreement.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

When I look to the future, I envision a world where anyone can access the artwork they love. Today, other forms of art like home design, jewelry, and fashion are part of our pop culture vernacular and are visible in various forms across global online marketplaces. In the next five years, I would love to see fine art become more widely accepted and incorporated into our daily lives, and it’s my hope that ArtRow will be the platform leading the way to increased accessibility in the market.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

My vision for ArtRow has remained consistent since the day I conceived it. My goal from the start has always been to leverage technology to make art accessible to all. However, technology changes daily, so my biggest learning curve has been understanding content strategy, UX, and CX to create a platform that aligns with my vision of accessibility while providing an exceptional user experience.

ArtRow is so much more than a sales platform, but it was critical to establish a streamlined sales process that was easy to use and integrate with our other systems. I also worked to find ways to make art historical substance and educational initiatives present throughout ArtRow without making the platform boring or dense. What I have learned is that a marketplace platform is a delicate and interconnected organism – all parts make a whole, and the user journey is essential to its success.

How can people get involved?

We welcome readers to explore ArtRow’s current catalogue of professionally vetted works on the platform. You can learn more about the art market through our ongoing Learn series or apply to sell on ArtRow here. For collectors who wish to buy or sell higher-value works, bespoke sales are also available.

Do you have a piece of art you are curious about selling? Email us! We will be happy to offer insights and guidance on the pieces you have.