AWAD Welcomes Nina Kong-Surtees

by | Jul 24, 2021

AWAD is delighted to welcome Nina Kong-Surtees founder of smART Advisory. As is our practice with new members, we asked Nina to share some of her background and a bit about her business.

What is the name of your business and where are you located? When did you start? 

smART Advisory, established in 2016, New York City.

What is your professional background ?

After graduating from university with a master’s degree in my hand, I’ve followed the traditional career path of an arts professional working at galleries, non-profit art centers, artist estates, museums, including the Whitney Museum of Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art. After a brief hiatus from the art world, I discovered entrepreneurship by chance to find a more “stable” career path. While working in the corporate world as a Project Manager, I had an opportunity to work as an art consultant for an artist’s estate, which led me to launch my company in 2016.

What inspired you to take the leap and start your own business? 

I come from a family of artists, and I have always been curious about the art-making process, the meaning of artists’ work, and career path at a very young age. My teachers saw the artistic side of me and secretly submitted my drawings to art contests. I’ve ended up winning a few awards (mostly in third place) without me even trying! But, like most parents, my mother wanted me to take a more “sustainable” career path and sadly believed in the myth of the “starving” artist. To make the best of the two worlds, I’ve studied medicine while secretly majoring in art history as an undergraduate. Despite my mother’s disappointment, I’ve decided to pursue my career as an art historian (and you can say the rest is history!). As an art historian, entrepreneur, and art advisor, my personal experience became my mission in my business– to deconstruct and dismantle the romantic idea and myth of “starving artists” rooted in our culture and history. I aim to rewrite art history, making the “starving” artist a thing of the past by empowering artists to gain confidence, freedom and adapt “legendary artists” mindset to create a thriving life and career.

What does your business offer, in terms of goods and services? 

Estate and Legacy planning services for artists and art collectors – My signature “Legendary Artists” 1:1 and group advising sessions help high-achieving artists maximize their value and time while doing what they love and need to be in life to become thriving artists. Writing services for artist bios, statements, art historical essays, art reviews, and grant applications.

What excites you about having joined the Association of Women Art Dealers? 

I’m excited to connect, collaborate, and support fellow women entrepreneurs in the art world with my knowledge and experience in art + technology.

What brings you joy in your work? 

I love working with artists and learning about their creative journeys and process. For me, artists (past and present) have been my greatest teachers. I see them as people who transform our world’s view by expanding our perspectives and possibilities through their creativity and imagination. The most rewarding part of working with artists for me is seeing their vision come to life and transform their lives and careers for themselves and others.

If you were a work of art what would you be and why?

Tamara Lempicka’s Self-Portrait in the Green Bugatti. This self-portrait embodies freedom, modernity, elegance, empowerment, and forward-thinking, which I aim to strive for in my life and business.