Businessman takes bite out of the Big Apple’s arts scene

Mike O’Brien, founder of The Works

A Whitley Bay born company director has launched a digital firm which allows some of New York’s most exciting talent sell their work in the UK, Europe and beyond.

By trade, Mike O’Brien sells technology to some of the world’s biggest investment banks, spending much of his time at Wall Street and in London’s financial district.

A chance meeting with a top photographer and filmmaker while on business in the Big Apple two years ago, led him on to a journey deep into the city’s contemporary and underground arts scene.

Newcastle-based TheWorks is an online art gallery helps selected bands of artists avoid the overheads of extortionate New York and London exhibition space.

Mr O’Brien said: “We want to make this art more accessible to more people. At first glance, the New York art world can appear quite intimidating, but what I’ve found is that it’s full of really warm, funny, interesting and intelligent people.

“I’m not so sure that’s what comes across in the art world from the outside looking in. These people want to do nice things for other people and I think we should promote that and get it out there.”

TheWorks has already won the backing of an eclectic mix of high calibre artists, photographers and filmmakers including Christophe Von Hohenberg, the internationally renowned portrait photographer.

Alongside Mr Von Hohenberg’s rich portfolio of work that has hung in some of New York’s top galleries, his critically acclaimed book, Andy Warhol: The Day the Factory Died, received the Photo District News Photography Book Award and the AIGA Book Award in 2007.

Initially TheWorks will host 20 artists, photographers and filmmakers, with a long term aim of bringing this up to 40 – although Mr O’Brien is keen to maintain the sense of a tight-knit, close community on the site.

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Comments 1

  1. Hello Mike,
    I think its great what you are doing in The Works.
    My business promotes local and national artists and we are always looking for new possibilities overseas especially the American market.
    We produce top notch gallery standard prints and original work and have exclusivity on some of the artists.
    Would you have any contacts or suggestions of galleries in New York that may be interested in our work?
    Your advise would be much appreciated.
    Best wishes,
    Sue Jarvis

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