Karline Moeller is the CEO of the international online-platform Art Frankly – learn about how she started
Karline Moeller is the CEO of Art Frankly, an online jobs and recruitment platform for the global visual arts community. Prior to her current project, Karline ran the New York office for the Cy Twombly Foundation. She also co-owned Moeller Snow Gallery, worked in Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Department, and was assistant director at the New York gallery Nyehaus. Five years ago, Karline co-founded the Mana Residency program at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City. Karline continues to work closely with the artists in residence and she contributes actively to the curatorial programming at Mana.
Here she explains how she became a digital entrepreneur:
The idea for Art Frankly first came to me in a meeting with colleagues about two years ago.
We were confronted with trying to understand what a certain individual did in the art world. Was he a curator? A collector? An advisor? Most likely he wore all three hats, but there was no database or site to find that out. A month passed and I could not get the idea out of my head. I would have needed something like that on so many occasions even during that one month.
Fast forward and my best friend and co-founder, Josie Hines, was home for the holidays from IESE business school in Barcelona. We were having dinner at the Odeon in TriBeCa. I asked him what he wanted to do after graduating, to which he promptly replied: “I’d like to run a tech startup.” Cue Art Frankly! Both Josie and I were working full-time when we started our company: he was at the World Economic Forum and I was at the Cy Twombly Foundation in New York City. We continued working in our respective positions for about eight months until we realized that if Art Frankly were to become the most recognizable professional platform in the arts community, it would require both of our full-time attention.
So we both quit, but felt confident in doing so because we had identified a clear problem: the visual arts industry is in need of a dedicated job platform that caters to creatives. It was scary to leave a dream job and, for that matter, a regular salary! I loved working at the Cy Twombly Foundation and I learned so much that I continue to carry into my duties and daily activities today. But I have worked for other people on and off for the last ten years, and I think I have always been most productive and happy during the times I’ve worked for myself.
The biggest excitement so far was seeing the platform go live. We worked diligently for almost one year before the website was ready to be made public. The day that it went live was monumental for us and our team! Watching users build profiles and seeing galleries post jobs around the world has been awesome. Another one of the most exciting moments was when we were making our first sale.
I think one of the keys to a successful business is being hyper aware of your own strengths and weaknesses. It just so happens that Josie and I have been best friends since we were ten years old. His background is in management and business. From the first moment he said he loved the idea, I knew we would be great business partners because we respect each other’s backgrounds and capabilities, and for that matter, our limitations. Although we both make decisions for the company, he handles finances and operations, whereas I handle business development, client relations, and creative communications. However, we collaborate on all big decisions and it is great because we both consistently bring different points of view to the table.
Being a pioneer is difficult and challenging, but already rewarding when we hear the positive feedback from our clients. And, of course, I am super lucky to be working with my best friend. Right now this is my dream job, but in my “fantasy dream scenario” I would give being a casting director in Hollywood a try. I guess that’s where my curatorial tendency comes into play. A casting director matches actors for the right role, which I am essentially trying to do for the arts with Art Frankly!
Julia co-founded one of the first fashion blogs in Germany in 2007 and became a freelance consultant for digital strategies after publishing her first book in 2010. After an eventful four years with Condé Nast working mainly in the digital department of Vogue Germany, she decided to launch her own online magazine with her dream partner, Veronika Heilbrunner. She is based in Berlin and loves to read books.