Lifestyle

Singapore App ArtHop Is The Art Event Discovery Platform That Every Hipster Needs

Singapore has a budding arts scene that no one knows about. Aside from the usual museums such as the Singapore Arts Museum and National Gallery which we flock to for the occasional date, most Singaporeans aren’t active art fiends. And we don’t blame them: there isn’t much information out there that can help people interested in art to discover art events and exhibitions, and people who aren’t, don’t have much incentive to start looking.

A Singapore-based startup, ArtHop, has created an app that wants to fix that. By curating a selection of geotagged listings, the app makes the process of discovering interesting art events in Singapore more exciting, while giving art events that often go unnoticed a chance to reach a wider audience.

Raymond-Samuel-Grace-Jamie-ArtHop

The spark behind ArtHop came from co-founder Jamie Hong, who was managing an art space in 2014. Despite being in the art industry, she found it difficult to discover arts events in Singapore. Art, she felt, should be enjoyed more spontaneously. If you’re bored on a weekend with nothing to do, you should be able to find out where the nearest art event is instantly and ‘hop’ over with ease.

With that in mind, she founded ArtHop alongside Samuel Phua and Raymond Yeh — two second-year Computer Science undergraduates at NTU who form the technical development team — and Grace Hong, a recent graduate from NTU with work experience in the Singapore Art Museum, Art Stage, and local 3D-printer startup Blacksmith Group.

“I saw how tough it was to run your own company but when it came to ArtHop, I decided to take the leap,” shared Grace. “Except for the non-stop working, it is my dream job to experience art and get to share it.”

Hopping Through

arthop1

The app, now available on the App Store and Google Play, is a sleek piece of work for a first version release. By making use of your location information, the app’s homepage is able to list down the nearest events to you, tell you exactly how far away it is from you, and the event’s opening hours. Each listing also comes with a Google Maps view of where it is located, and will direct you to your Google Maps app to get directions if you need it.

Under the Art tab on the bottom left, you can choose to browse through a comprehensive list of events or spaces, and choose from listings like a temporary art show or a permanent art gallery, depending on your preference.

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If you’re looking to be spontaneous, this is where the ‘Hop’ in ArtHop comes into play. The Hop tab on the bottom right allows you to generate random spaces and events by tapping on a button, making the discovery journey simpler and much more exciting.

It also gives interesting arts events with low marketing budgets a platform to be discovered, when they would previously go unnoticed.

With the annual Art After Dark event taking place tonight and tomorrow, ArtHop shares that users can make use of the app to navigate the event.

Is Art For The “Atas“?

Image Credit: RockTheStage.com
Image Credit: RockTheStage.com

With an app like this, it’s easy to question whether the audience that they’re trying to target is just too niche. After all, many Singaporeans would be quick to dismiss art events and galleries as something for the “atas“, and that the subject matter is often too “cheem” for them.

Speaking to Grace, she did agree that yes, there are people who might not appreciate this app.

A scene from one of the previous editions of Art After Dark in Singapore. (Image Credit: www.expatliving.sg)
A scene from one of the previous editions of Art After Dark in Singapore. (Image Credit: www.expatliving.sg)

“Yes, art might seem distant or unrelated. However, art is everywhere! Also, the young today are more receptive to new ideas and experiences. Although they might not be interested in art per se, there is a willingness to try. Visitorship to art events has gone up over the past five years.”

She elaborated, “The delivery is also pivotal in securing interest. Ever since we began, I have conducted a little experiment of my own by asking people if they’ve seen Chen Wen Hsi’s Gibbons and Cheong Soo Pieng’s Drying Salted Fish before. They would be disinterested until I pull out a fifty dollar note and reveal that yes, they have. I would then explain the importance of these paintings and the stories of the artists to a captivated listener.”
Chen wen hsi gibbons
Chen Wen Hsi’s Two Gibbons Amidst Vines (Collection of Singapore Art Museum, donated by Dr Earl Lu). (Image Credit: YBnotes )
A 50-dollar banknote from Singapore
As a result, she explained, “What might be assumed as boring or too traditional is actually fun for them. So, art is a lot more than admiring beauty or understanding a difficult concept, we get to find out different perspectives of people that helps us broaden our thinking. And at the same time, have a creation we can look at.”
So yes, ArtHop may be working with a very limited market — spontaneity is a tough trait to value in the app industry, what more when they’re working with a potential market that needs to first be educated in order to appreciate the value of this app.
It’s tricky business, but one that the ArtHop team seems determined to try out. It’ll definitely gain traction amongst those already in Singapore’s arts scene, and may even gather a support group of early adopters — the rest of Singapore is what I’m worried about.