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Date
16 April 2013

Business Shapers: Matthew Slotover

Through Frieze, Matthew has also pursued other publishing projects, including the books: What the Butler Saw – The Selected Writings of Stuart Morgan; All Tomorrow’s Parties – Photographs of Andy Warhol’s Factory, by Billy Name; and Designed by Peter Saville, a retrospective book of Saville’s graphic design.

Transcript

Business Shapers: Matthew Slotover

Matthew Slotover

Director, Frieze

Business Shapers from Mishcon de Reya

In association with Jazz FM’s Jazz Shapers

My father had run his own business and actually my grandfather had run his own business and in my family and a lot of people ran their own business so I thought I don’t really want to work for someone else, I will try and find something that I could do.  I never studied art, but I began to be really interested in the art that was being made especially some of the young British artists and I just thought they were incredible and I just wanted to be part of the world so I started this magazine. 

So the first edition came out in June ’91 and it took a year and a half to get off the ground.  We did it in a real shoestring and just printed 500 copies that’s 32 pages, but actually it was quite good and the first cover was Damian Hirst and it was the first ever published interview with Damian Hirst who was not well known at the time.  I would be getting these articles in from these experts and try to edit them into something that I thought made sense without knowing really more than what they did, or knowing a lot less than they did. 

We came across two fantastic mentors and I think probably everyone starting their own thing needs a mentor.  It was being at the right place at the right time.  You get a feeling in your gut when there’s something really exciting going on and I’ve got to admit I don’t get it often, it’s a once or twice or three times in a lifetime kind of thing. 

I think there is a kind of seven year itch thing in business you know and you get to a stage where you feel like I’d like to do something else with my life and need a bit of a change.  London became a much more important art centre so around that time I began to think well London really deserves an art fair.  We heard other people were going to do one, they never materialised and at that one point it just struck us that maybe we could do it and so it began to put the wheels in motion.  I started to write a business plan which of course you know changes dramatically.  We took an overdraft, we guaranteed it against our houses, but the main thing was getting the galleries on side because they are the content and they are the majority of the income and we needed the best galleries in the world.  One of the great things about doing an art fair is you’ve got 150 galleries in the fair.  For each of them they need people to come, so they do their own publicity for the fair, so we’ve got 150 other businesses out there telling everyone “you’ve got to come, this is gonna be great.” 

Of course it’s part of my business now going out to art galleries, keeping in touch with the art world, with clients actually, it’s part of what I have to do, but I am lucky enough to be able to work in something that I am passionate about and do love doing.

Business Shapers from Mishcon de Reya

In association with Jazz FM’s Jazz Shapers