ace & tate launch creative fund in amsterdam
Artists in a broad range of disciplines -- from photography to music, graphic design and beyond -- can apply for project funding from the innovative eyewear company.
The innovative Amsterdam-based eyewear brand Ace & Tate have announced the launch of a Creative Fund that will support a number of emerging artists to complete an original, creative project. The fund is open to submissions from "individuals or collectives working anywhere, in any medium, who take creative risks to break new ground," and indeed the range of disciplines is defined broadly, as Ace & Tate founder Mark de Lange told i-D at the launch in Amsterdam.
Listing a few examples of the kinds of applications he would welcome, Mark says, "I really like graphic design, so I'd love to see some visual art. I would love to see a band [apply] for studio time, perhaps, or for us to fund a video for them, because I love music. And I love art books, so I would be excited to maybe compile someone's work, and finance the printing of a book for them". "I also love photography," he continues, "so that's why we chose Hannah" -- that is, Hannah Putz, an artist and ambassador for the Creative Fund, whose photography lined the gallery walls at the launch dinner, and whose work can be seen above.
That Hannah is self-taught is compelling for Mark, who considers Ace & Tate to be a new kind of company, "working it out as [they] go along" to provide an internet-first service for contemporary eyewear, all made in Italy and mostly by hand, at a price that makes owning several different styles much more affordable than traditional retailers. "The way we see eyewear is as a valid, cool accessory instead of a medical necessity," Mark explains, adding that, "when something says [it costs] 'X' on the box, it's X, and it won't be 3X when you leave the shop" -- that 'X' is a very reasonable €98 a pair. The success of the young brand has seen them open four stores in the Netherlands and one in Berlin, with another two stores on the way and further European expansion expected next year.
Mark explains that the Creative Fund was set up so that Ace & Tate could give back to the creative community. "A lot of creatives have helped us over the past few years and it's a nice way to pay it back," he explains, noting that, "Over time, we've worked with numerous really cool, really talented creatives and talking to them I realised that a lot of people have this one passion project that might not be commercially viable, or they had this one thing in their heads that they just couldn't execute -- usually because of lack of funding, or they weren't able to sell themselves on the marketing side, or able to get exposure for their projects -- and at a certain point it hit me: why not do something to help them?".
The judging panel bring a range of experience to the table, consisting of Mark, Will Hudson the founder of website It's Nice That, graphic designer and art director Mario Lombardo, and artist/filmmaker duo Lernert and Sander, whose involvement with the project Mark describes as "kind of a fan boy moment for me," explaining that "if anyone can judge originality it would be them, because they're such original thinkers themselves".
Asked why he chose to support artists through the fund, rather than, say, accessories designers specifically, Mark says, "I was actually thinking about this myself: what would happen if someone with a really good business idea or product were to apply?". "We'll have to see on a case by case basis," he muses, "but when you start financing really commercial projects, it becomes more of an investment fund than a fund that doesn't need a return on investment. The idea is that we hope to stimulate some beautiful things being made. And what that is, I don't really mind! I'm actually really excited to see what will happen, what kind of applications we will have; that's why we were as broad as possible in our description. And if an accessories maker applies, we'll have to see what kind of application it is, what the goal is, and... who knows!".
"My two core values as a person are inspiration and independence. I hope to be inspired in everything I do, and I hope to be independent, and this seems to marry those two things," Mark continues, explaining that through the Creative Fund, Ace & Tate are "able to be inspired and to motivate inspiration as a whole, and also perhaps help some amazing creatives to be independent in their endeavours".
Text Charlotte Gush
Photography (main image) Hannah Putz, all courtesy Ace & Tate