The Artsy Questionnaire: Checking in with Alexis Ohanian

Alexis Ohanian: mentor, author, co-founder of reddit, defender of internet freedom. It’s hard to overstate Ohanian’s importance to the online world as we know it, and we couldn’t help but jump at the chance to chat with him on eve of the launch of his new book, Without Their Permission. And what can we say—we love an interviewee who manages to mention Salvador Dalí and XKCD in the same answer.

Artsy: So your book Without Their Permission just dropped. Can you give us the Tweet-length description?

Alexis Ohanian: Inspiration and blueprint for anyone with a great idea to be awesome online in business, non-profit, art, entertainment, music—anything!

What other projects are you working on at the moment that we should know about?

I'm trying my best to be a good advisor to all my portfolio companies (including Artsy!) and cooking up something special for Brooklyn. In the meantime, I’m also offering a chance to be my mentee for a year to fundraise for every single STEM classroom in Brooklyn.

We’re really big fans of your social media presence. Can you tell us any of your secrets to success?

I don’t know, all my best content just comes from reddit.

Who are some of your favorite people to follow on Instagram and Twitter?

Wilder Quarterly on Instagram. Christina Xu (@xuhulk) on Twitter.

Now for the art portion of our interview… Who are some of your favorite artists?

Banksy, Escher, Dalí, Randall Munroe, Zach Weinersmith, C&H, and Ryan North.

Do you own any art? If so, can you tell us about some of your favorite pieces? If not, what is the closest thing to art that you own?

A range of art from my travels, random bits of street art, and photographs from my friend Huu.

What’s your favorite museum and why?

The MoMA! I decided it was my favorite after their exhibit on fonts.

Can you pick a couple of your favorite “genes” or artworks on Artsy?

Contemporary Design, Graffiti/Street Art, Typography

What role do you think technology and/or the internet have to play in the art world? Can it make the art world suck less?

Technology can bring all the finest works of art in the world to anyone with an internet connection—that’s a really powerful idea. Let’s not keep this culture and genius locked up. If it can inspire just one person, it’s making the world suck less.

At Artsy, we spend a lot of time and energy thinking about design as well as art. What do you think the key to good design is?

Beauty and simplicity combined to help someone accomplish something.

Bonus question: The media can’t stop throwing around the idea of you running for public office. Is there a Congressman Ohanian in our nation’s future?

No immediate plans. I’m having too much fun as a private citizen.