Chris Paik is a name to know in the
NYC tech world—a partner at Thrive Capital, he’s been hugely influential in
shaping the startup scene here in the city, an integral part in the VC firm’s
extensive portfolio*. He’s a Harvard grad and frequenter of articles in the “20
Under 25” vein, and we always suspected Paik would have interesting things to
say about art and technology. Fortunately he gave us the opportunity to pick
his brain. [*DISCLAIMER: which includes Artsy.]
Artsy: Can you give us a
Chris Paik: Bay Area born and
raised. Fell in love with New York City. Technology runs in my blood. Top 1%
Artsy: You’ve achieved a lot
already at a very young age. Are there any secrets to your success?
CP: I think our generation was
raised to be very risk-averse. Everyone asks you when you’re young, “what do
you want to be when you grow up?”, like you’re supposed to know, like you’re
supposed to have this master plan and these steps that you’re going to follow.
I think if there’s one thing that I’ve told my friends and everyone that I’ve
interacted with and potentially given advice to, it’s “follow your heart; do
what you want to do; things are going to work out.” As long as you can scrape
together stuff, do what you love, because in the same amount of time doing
something you love doing, you’ll travel way farther in your career than doing
something that you even feel okay about. That makes a big difference—you can
always change careers, move horizontally on the ladder. I think people don’t
understand the opportunity cost of time, especially when you’re young, so you
need to do what you’re passionate about.
Artsy: Either at Thrive or
outside of it, are there any projects that you’re working on right now that
you’re particularly excited about?
CP: Pretty much everything
that I do revolves around Thrive and our portfolio. Although I am adopting a
dog for a week next week! I’ve always wanted a pet and never had one.
Artsy: Do you have favorite
people to follow on social media?
CP: My friends are my favorite
people that I follow. I’m not super interested in celebrities—I think social
media is a great channel to stay in touch with your friends.
Artsy: Do you have favorite
CP: I spend a lot of time on
reddit and HackerNews. Probably way too much time. Those two outlets are where
I consume most of my news.
Artsy: What kind of art do you
find yourself drawn to?
CP: It’s a few things. I like
really physical art, like sculptures and installations; lighting and furniture
are also a really beautiful type of art. I also like conceptual art, art that’s
driven very strongly by an underlying philosophy.
Artsy: Who are some of your
CP: I really like
then, not contemporary, but I think my favorite pseudo-classical artist is
Artsy: Do you own any art?
CP: I do! As of recently. My
girlfriend got me a number of Sol LeWitt prints, and I still need to get them
framed. They’re beautiful. I’m really excited to have actual art.
Artsy: Do you have a favorite
CP: I don’t know whether it’s
just because I went recently, but probably DIA: Beacon. They have an incredible
representation of some of my favorite artists. Really really awesome. But
actually, now that I think about it, my favorite museum might be the Walker Art
Museum. It’s like this oasis of art in the middle of the country, and the
curation is just so thoughtful; their sculpture garden is really well curated
as well—it might be better than their collection.
Artsy: What do you think the
role of technology in the art world is?
CP: I think the role of
technology is to make art more accessible. I know that’s a total tee-up for
Artsy, but I think that technology fundamentally reduces friction for people to
connect, and allows greater opportunity for a larger percentage of people.
Making art more accessible is huge—the way that I learned about art was by
taking elective classes, and I would have loved some sort of resource where I
could just get lost, and spiral out into a movement—it’s like the same sort of
effect you get on Wikipedia. The transactional, market element of art aside, I
think the most interesting intersection of the two is making the discovery and
learning more accessible.
Artsy: We think a lot about
design, too, here at Artsy. Are there any designers that you especially like?
CP: I’m very fond of furniture
designers, because I think it’s the highest form of functional art. So the
pretty much all of the designers that DWR [Design Within Reach] has
appropriated. In a parallel life, I would have loved to start a design house.
In terms of fashion designers, I think Hedi Slimane is the man; I think he’s
revolutionized menswear. I also really like Margiela—that sort of
tongue-in-cheek essence of his line.
Artsy: What to you is the key
to good design?