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Christie’s Is Launching A Venture Fund Targeting Tech Companies With Art Impact – ARTnews

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Christie’s announced Monday that it has launched Christie’s Ventures, an investment fund that will target emerging tech companies whose product could have an impact on the art market. While Christie’s would not disclose the exact amount of the fund, a representative offered a ballpark figure of “several million dollars.”

The auction house was one of the very first art institutions to understand the impact that NFTs could have on the art market and quickly arranged NFT sales that would end up profoundly changing the auction house and the larger art market. Of particular note is the March 2021 sale of digital artist Beeple’s art work Everydays: The First 5,000 Days, which sold for a record breaking $69.3 million.

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“Because of Beeple, we got a front row seat at what was being built technologically, from some of the people in this very room,” Devang Thakkar, the Global Head of Christie’s Ventures, told ARTnews during Christie’s Art + Tech Summit Tuesday, at which several Web3 founders and leaders were present.

Though some might think it strange that an auction house would launch a venture fund, Thakkar noted that Christie’s has long been forward thinking in its adoption of emerging technologies.

“We’ve been at the forefront of technology for a long time, for example we’ve had live auctions where you can bid from your phone. Then our thinking shifted over the pandemic,” said Thakkar. “We decided, we can’t just take what someone builds and plug it in, if we want something that is very customized, we should actually take an investment position and guide the founders to make something that is the right thing for the art market.”

Christie’s Ventures has already made its first investment, a Web3 company called LayerZero Labs, which provides a protocal that allows different blockchains — such as Ethereum and, say, Tezos — to communicate and work together.

Thakkar explained that Christie’s Ventures will invest beyond Web3 start ups.

“We have three pillars we’re looking at, one of which is Web3,” said Thakkar. “One of the other pillars is investing in better ways of viewing art, that is, technology that improves how you consume art. The third pillar is around the financial innovation in the art market, technology that makes it easier to actually acquire art objects.”

Christie’s new venture fund launches amidst the onset of a crypto winter where the price of ether and bitcoin have nearly halved in the last six months. NFT platform OpenSea announced layoffs of 20% last week, while crypto startups like Coinbase, crypto.com, and Gemini all announced layoffs in June.

Despite the downturn, Christie’s is clearly signaling that technology will continue to play an ever increasing role in the art market.

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Demystifying the Art of Assessment & Selection – smallwarsjournal

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sfas 1
Soldiers attending Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS) participate in a team event during Team Week. (Taken from DVIDS)
Photo by K. Kassens
United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School

Whether it is a Fortune 500 company or an elite military unit, good or bad, every organization has some type of systemic process to recruit, assess, select, and train its personnel. Although these processes vary widely in their design and implementation, all organizations ultimately have the same goal: field the force with the right people and accomplish the organizational mission. During the summer of 2020, SWCS embarked on an ambitious initiative to holistically overhaul its training pipelines, paying particular attention to information management and the inclusion of data analytics in order to improve overall efficiency of assessing, selecting and training ARSOF. In the midst of this overhaul, a simple, yet highly relevant question was posited: “Why?” Why do we do it? What does Assessment and Selection accomplish that other job search methods cannot? The purpose of this article is to address this question, to reflect within the ARSOF community on why this process is so important, and to demystify a process that to others may seem like some sort of obscure ritual or rite of passage.

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Soldiers attending Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS) participate in a team event during Team Week. (Taken from DVIDS)
Photo by K. Kassens
United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School

The Art of Risk Management

Talent acquisition is a constant balance between the need to fill the force with exceptionally qualified individuals and the need to ensure the force is adequately manned to serve the nation. This sets up what appears to be a direct tradeoff between maintaining quality (or standards) versus achieving sufficient quantity. We cannot and do not accept this notion. As the Special Operations Forces (SOF) maxim states, SOF cannot be mass produced; each individual is hand-picked and carefully trained for their job. Further, Special Operations leadership cannot risk leaving the nation unable to respond with SOF capabilities. The stakes are simply too high to accept risk in sacrificing quality or quantity. The goal, then, is to cast as wide a net as possible in recruitment, then enabling the risk management process to unfold from there.

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FIGURE 1

Figure 1 illustrates how to conceptualize the ARSOF talent acquisitions process. It includes four phases: Recruitment, Assessment, Training, and Operations. At recruitment, the talent population is random and at low probability of seeking and finding the right person for the job. As the process progresses, the population moves through a series of filters that serve as  key decision points necking down the talent pool at each phase, increasing the probability of finding the right person for the job. The “input”, or recruitment, side (far left) includes a pool of potential recruits, some of whom are truly a good fit for ARSOF (denoted with green dots) while others are a poor fit (denoted with red dots). A “good fit” in this case means someone who will perform at or above the unchanging operational standards of exceptional ethical and moral judgement, and with high physical, psychological, and cognitive fitness throughout their career. By filter three, there is little to no possibility that the ARSOF talent acquisition process is vulnerable to random chance. Nearly every individual is a “good fit” for ARSOF.

 

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Army Special Forces soldiers conduct shooting range at training support activity Europe
Photo by Jason Johnston (Photo taken from DVIDS)

Importantly, we cannot actually know this truth about any individual in advance, we can only infer it through process. Although a soldier could look good on paper during recruitment, there is no way to inherently know from the outset (at recruitment) whether someone is a good or poor fit. This requires the organization to estimate “goodness of fit” based on collected evidence. Depending on the amount and type of evidence, a poor fit can look a lot like a good one, so the goal is to separate the two populations as much as possible. Each of the three major filters during talent acquisition is defined on the collection and processing of evidence, designed according to each phase to cut as many of the poor fit cases as possible while having minimal impact on the good fit population. In statistics, this is referred to as precision (in our case, rejecting only poor fit cases without impacting good fit cases) and recall (finding as many of those poor fit cases as possible). Ultimately, the details of the filter design — both with respect to evidence collected and analytics performed — reflect the artistry of risk management.

 

The process starts with recruitment, where the goal is to have a blunt filter to remove as many clearly poor fit cases as possible with effectively no impact on the pool of potential good fit candidates; that is, aim for high precision, but with an acceptable level of sub-optimal recall. This filter has to be balanced by reality: what is readily available in routine service records and what recruiters can realistically accomplish with their resources across an array of non-standardized recruitment locations around the globe. Most of this filter is practical in nature, identifying those potential recruits who are at least minimally physically fit, have promotion potential based on rank and time in grade, etc… The available evidence at this point is not particularly effective at sorting the two populations, but it does allow SWCS to rule out a lot of definite poor fit candidates.

 

At A&S, SWCS standardizes the assessment and conducts targeted examinations to focus on those qualities that do a great — though not perfect — job at distinguishing between a good and poor fit. Moreover, this can be done at relatively low cost in both time to the candidates and resources to the organization. Thus, A&S becomes the primary phase to sort good fit from poor fit after the more pragmatic filter of recruitment is applied. This much tighter filter at A&S results in a population that is generally of very good fit with only a few missed cases of poor fit making it through. Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of some good fit cases, though there is always a concerted effort made to limit the impact on this population. In the future, as data collection and analytics improve, SWCS will be able to better differentiate the poor fit from good fit cases, allowing better rejection of poor cases while impacting fewer of the good. The inset in Figure 1 illustrates how analytics can both lower the ceiling for poor cases and raise the floor for good cases. This results in better distinction between the two populations and a smaller homogenous region in the center.

 

When the soldiers get to training, most of the population will be a good fit, as A&S has filtered out the poor fit candidates. The filter points in this phase are usually relegated to significant and uncorrectable failures in academics, behavioral issues that were previously unobserved, or unforeseeable circumstances such as major injury. This phase helps remove the last few poor fit candidates that are still functionally differentiable from good fit candidates.

 

The last phase, operations, focuses on the operational force, where the goal is to assume minimal risk – more specifically, a soldier failing standards and/or harming the mission and/or nation. At this point, it is expected that ARSOF personnel have the necessary knowledge, skills, and attributes to perform their jobs and represent the enterprise. Unfortunately, no effort to predict long-term human behavior is perfect. Some poor fit candidates will make it through the entire process regardless of the A&S system used, translating to a certain level of risk assumed by the respective organization and its leadership. However, this level of risk is acceptable and unquestionably better than the alternative of not utilizing an A&S course at all.

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Special Forces candidates assigned to the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School exit a Blackhawk helicopter during Robin Sage training exercise. 
Photo by K. Kassens (Photo taken from DVIDS)
swcs hQ
Bryant Hall – Headquarters to the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School located at Ft. Bragg, NC. 
Photo by Maj. Stuart E. Gallagher

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Tame Your Workspace With 2022’s Best Desk Organizers for Art Students – ARTnews

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They say a cluttered desk makes for a cluttered mind. With a desk organizer, you can better focus on your schoolwork or independent projects while maximizing your workspace. These products come with designated space for pencils, pens, and brushes, as well as small tools like erasers and pencil sharpeners. The trick is to find one that can hold what you need it to but won’t take up too much space on its own. Ideally, it’ll be good to look at too. Reclaim your desktop or worktable with one of the best desk organizers for artists below.

How we pick each product:

Our mission is to recommend the most appropriate artists’ tool or supply for your needs. Whether you are looking for top-of-the line equipment or beginners’ basics, we’ll make sure that you get good value for your money by doing the research for you. We scour the Internet for information on how art supplies are used and read customer reviews by real users; we ask experts for their advice; and of course, we rely on our own accumulated expertise as artists, teachers, and craftspeople.

1. Totally Tiffany Desk Maid Tool Tower

Featuring six compartments with square openings and two slimmer ones, this stepped desktop organizer can handle a wide variety of tools. Still, with a base measuring just about nine by five inches, it doesn’t take up too much space. We like that it keeps everything in sight: small objects, like erasers and staples, can fit snugly in the lower compartments without getting lost, while rulers can stand upright in the taller ones. Made of wood, the tower is sturdy and durable. Since it’s white, it doesn’t draw too much attention and blends in with just about any desk setting.

Tame Your Workspace With 2022’s Best

2. Safco Products Desktop Organizer

This option is a tad pricey, but it’s well worth it if your budget allows. Made entirely of hard-wearing steel mesh, it can hold just about any stationery item you want it to. Three sliding drawers—ideal for pens and pencils and small objects like sticky notes—make up most of its base, and two shelves—one wide, one narrow—sit above them. To the left is a holder that can fit folders or notebooks. The drawers move smoothly without squeaking, and are long enough for most pens and pencils (and even brushes). The base features rubber feet to keep the entire structure from moving while in use—or worse, scratching your desk. You’ll likely have this smartly designed organizer for many years to come. Note that it does have a relatively large footprint, measuring more than 16 inches long and about one foot wide.

Tame Your Workspace With 2022’s Best

3. Sterilite Organizer

Sometimes, simple is all you need. This drawer system from Sterilite features three pullout compartments, stacked over one another, so it takes up just an area of desk space measuring 8 by 14 inches. The drawers are perfect for oddly shaped items, but you can also slip in notebooks or smaller organizers to create your own inner compartments. Each features a rounded handle and slides in and out with little effort. Made in the USA of durable plastic, this organizer is also easy to wipe down should you need to clean it. You can also buy multiple organizers and stack them.

Tame Your Workspace With 2022’s Best

4. Mont Martre Studio Tidy Holder

If you are looking for an organizer to keep drawing and painting supplies, we recommend this no-frills plastic holder from Mont Martre. The organizer, measuring nearly 6 inches square and about 3.5 inches tall, features 96 square holes to fit slimmer markers, colored pencils, paintbrushes, and other tools (as long as they have a diameter of about 0.66 inches and under). With each tool standing upright, you can easily see colors at a glance, and store tools as you like. Keep markers handy and brushes with their bristles up to prevent damage.

Tame Your Workspace With 2022’s Best

5. Stanley Removable 4 Cup Caddy

This caddy looks perfectly good on a desk, but it’s also meant to be carried around whenever you want. A big handle extends from its center so you can pick it up while keeping your supplies, divided into four cup-like compartments of the same size, in order. The sections are perfect for tools like pencils and glue sticks, but taller items, like adult-sized scissors, may feel a tad insecure especially if you’re moving the caddy around. The cups feature grooves on their base to help keep them in place, but you can remove each one if you want, making this a great option when students need to share supplies.

Tame Your Workspace With 2022’s Best

6. Three By Three Seattle Drawer Organizer

These trays are designed for drawers, but they are good looking enough to display on a desktop. Arrange them however you like to create the custom organizer of your dreams. You get five open-top receptacles for holding an array of items: Two narrow ones that are perfect for pencils and rulers; a cube-like one for knick-knacks; and two rectangular ones, the larger of which can store small notepads. You can keep the trays together as a unit, or use them around the studio as needed. Each is made of tin printed with a bold color and features rubberized bottoms to prevent sliding.

Tame Your Workspace With 2022’s Best

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I’ve been battling Indigenous art fraud for 30 years. It’s only getting worse. – Maclean’s

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Jason Hunt comes from a long line of renowned First Nations artists whose works and livelihoods are being undermined by fraudulent reproductions of their work

First Nations artists like Jason Henry Hunt—a renowned carver and nephew of legendary North West Coast artist Richard Hunt—spend a lifetime learning the intricacies of their craft. But fraudulent works (most of which are mass-produced overseas) have flooded the Canadian market for decades, despite the best efforts of Hunt and other advocates. Currently, Senator Patricia Bovey—the first art historian in the Senate—is lobbying the government to fortify copyright law to protect intellectual property and provide more protections for First Nations artists. She says there may be millions lost to art fakes and wants the government to do more to help artists track down those unlawfully reproducing their works by conducting a thorough review of the Copyright Act in order to ensure there are proper legal protections in place. In the meantime, Hunt says Canada’s art market remains a free-for-all for unscrupulous fraudsters. This is his story.

— As told to Liza Agrba

I’ve been a professional carver for 30 years. I come from a long line of Kwaguilth carvers, including my uncle Richard and my dad, Stan. Our family is full of artists, and I’m lucky enough to be one of them. But, like many First Nations artists, I spend my off-time trying to rein in the enormous market for fraudulent artwork, and have been doing so since I began my career.

Every element of North West Coast art is being stolen and reproduced. It runs the gamut from inspired designs thrown on cheap mugs and T-shirts to detailed reproductions passed off as the real thing and sold at a high price. Outright copyright theft is extremely common. In Canada, artists have implicit rights to a piece as soon as it’s created—that is, you don’t have to go out and copyright every individual work of art. But in practice, pieces are stolen all the time, with virtually no repercussions.

If you visit cities like Vancouver, Banff or any of these touristy places, you’ll find more fraudulent First Nations artwork than authentic pieces. When I was in Jasper a couple of years ago, every gallery I walked into—including some of the nicer ones—were filled with reproduction garbage promoted as real. It’s disheartening.

There are few to no consequences for people who do this. Ten or so years ago, one of the largest slot machine manufacturers in the world stole the design for one of my masks and put it onto their machines. The only reason I found out is because my wife was playing the machine at a casino in Vancouver. I sat down beside her and noticed. What the heck!? That’s my mask on the screen! I talked to one of their lawyers at the time, who agreed it looks like the same piece of artwork, but said that if it ever goes to court I’d have to do a lot more to prove it’s my piece. They are a massive company, and I couldn’t afford a lawyer to go after it.

There are countless examples of this. There was even one guy who hired a crew to create artwork and went as far as creating a fake artist persona. He sold to galleries for 10 or 15 years until a few of us artists started looking into him a little more because the work just didn’t look right. As with many of these fraudulent pieces, much of the work looks completely ridiculous to an actual carver. But to the average Joe, it looks legitimate. Someone he knew ended up ratting him out, and thankfully, you don’t see his pieces anymore. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

There are red flags to look for. One extremely common pattern is online posts with some version of this elaborate fairytale backstory: “I collected this piece at an estate sale; it’s been sitting in an attic for decades. It’s a long-lost masterpiece!” When I read that I think: buyer beware. It also helps to do some research on the artist—there should be something to corroborate who this person is. Also, when it comes to wood carvings you can look out for the type of wood being used. Generally, the real thing is made with red or yellow cedar. Another big tell is artwork that doesn’t have a signature. Every artist signs their work—don’t believe sellers who say the signature rubbed off.

Online selling has made this industry all the more prolific. In my earlier days I was battling eBay. I would sit around emailing buyers and sellers to warn them off. Now, sites like Redbubble, which sell work from ostensibly independent artists, will occasionally get on board to take fraudulent work down when it’s pointed out to them. But in my experience they’re absolutely uninterested in being proactive about it.

Even though we supposedly have laws in Canada to protect us, there’s no active enforcement. Because there’s no large-scale effort to tackle the issue it’s up to individual artists to do their best with whatever resources we may have. Believe me, it’s expensive to prove that a given piece is yours.

Enough is enough. We need a united approach, so we’re not all fighting this fight in little siloes. Maybe we need to fund a committee to tackle this problem, or stronger checks at the border for pieces that look like First Nations artwork. In the United States they have more severe penalties for people who reproduce First Nations artwork and pass it off as real. We need stronger policies and copyright protections.

There are a lot of artists passionate about this—we have Facebook groups and other forums dedicated to the effort. The Vancouver-based artist Lucinda Turner, who recently passed away, really spearheaded this effort. She would send thousands of cease-and-desist letters to online resellers. Since she’s passed, it’s even more of a free-for-all than before. We can’t keep up. It’s like playing whack-a-mole.

It’s emotionally draining. I’ve been battling this for 30 years, and it’s just getting worse. I’m lucky because I have a name in the art world, so I’m not necessarily losing out on the ability to market my work. But it really affects younger artists. Frankly, I think that’s part of the reason there are so few of them. I’ll be 50 in a couple of years, and I’m the youngest person in my family making a living with my art.

If you look at this with a broader lens, the uniqueness of our art is being watered down. There’s a very specific method to what we do. The designs are not just put together randomly. It takes generational knowledge to know how to do this. I was taught by my dad, who was taught by my grandpa, who was taught by his great-grandpa, and so on. That’s what gives the art meaning.

But when you have these generic reproductions, there’s no culture behind it. I wonder if there may be more fraudulent pieces on the market than there are genuine ones. Are we getting washed out? Maybe. It’s heartbreaking because there’s a huge market for this art, but we’re stuck battling theft on a massive scale. At this point we need government support and protections, and we need it now.

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