Artron: Leading the Art Service Industry with Distinguished Innovative Ideas

By Kevin Nie, China IP,[Comprehensive Reports]

In the unprecedented intense competition of today’s cultural industry, Artron combines 1) its unique business mode of “traditional printing + modern IT technology + culture and art” with its business strategy and social responsibility, with 2) its service for artists and artistic organizations with art education and publicity for common people. The resulting combination therefore provides a unique opportunity to explore a new path for the development of the creative cultural industry.
Through an interview with Artron’s Vice President Mr. Pan Jianping, China IP now has a better understanding of the company’s unique business mode and operation philosophy.
China IP: Could you introduce briefly Arton’s developing process and its managing features?
Mr. Pan: Artron was founded in 1993. The Chairman of the Board and founder of the company, Mr. Wan Jie, came up with the innovative idea that “printing belongs to the service industry.” Under Mr. Wan’s leadership, Artron has accomplished great achievements in the high-end printing area and became China’s first standardized printing and new technologies R&D and promoting base. And by virtue of providing superior quality and high-caliber services, it has been entrusted with numerous major national-level heavy printing tasks and is held in esteem by not only companies but also individuals both within and without the printing industry.
Artron has by far proven to be one of the most excellent art service organization and printing companies available. The numbers speak for themselves; it has printed over 60,000 books of more than 200 million copies, offered qualified art service to nearly 50,000 artists, served over 230 publishing houses nearly 1,000 museums, galleries and memorial halls both home and abroad, and artistic and business clients in nearly 30 countries. For seven consecutive years Artron has won the Gold Award from “Benny Award,” which is known as the “Oscars” of the printing industry.
Artron’s operation principle has undergone a change from “Serving People’s Art” to “Make Art Serve People.” It currently provides services in a wide range, covering visual design, photographing, printing, exhibition planning, artwork duplication, network publicity, advertising, artwork database, digital assets management, and pictures’ copyright exchanging services etc. It offers this broad range of services to artists, artwork collectors, curators, critics, publishers, art business organizations, institutes and colleges. During the process of “Serving People’s Art,” Artron established the world largest Chinese Artworks Database, using the pictures, information of artworks and the rich artwork resources it accumulated while setting up It sorted out, edited and confirmed the resources in its database, constituted an IP protection system though copyright authorities and formed various relevant products which are available for art lovers, consumers, investors, companies, governments, colleges, communities, units, societies, associations, cultural organizations collect, so as to fulfill the dream of “Make Art Serve People.”
China IP: From the earlier printing company to a professional art service organization, what changes has Artron undergone? What exactly are included in the Artron’s business mode?
Mr. Pan: After years of exploration, Artron has grown from a small company to a large one, and did business originally as a traditional processing industry. It then move on to the new service industry, and finally into a newly created industry. During this process, we set our own unique business mode of “traditional printing + modern IT technology + culture and art.”
In order to preserve and present the original condition of artworks for the coming generations to study and appreciate, to inherit and carry forward the fine traditional culture, as well as to continue the trace of human civilization, Artron devoted 20 years to building the Chinese Artworks Database. The Database stores all the image and text information permanently in digital form and serves as the essential resources center of Artron, which is used to develop a great deal of related service. In addition, it makes great contributions to the protection, spreading, and promoting of Chinese traditional culture. The Chinese Artworks Database preserves the precious images, texts and information of 60,000 artists and 20 million pieces of artworks with the most advanced digital image technology and mass storage technology so as to collect and manage the information of Chinese artists, art institutes, artworks, images and events comprehensively, effectively and safely. The Database is highly thought of and called as the “Complete Library in Art Field.”
In our role of assisting the power of artists, Artron is dedicated to promoting the core values of artists. We set up “banks” which save the personal information of artists on the basis of our database. The “bank” will provide one-stop services for the artists and meet all their needs from digital assets management and publication to exhibition and network service. Currently Artron has set up personal asset management database for over 4,100 artists (including 700 foreign artists), and offered them personalized services though platforms such as iPad and their official websites. Artron also shoulders social responsibilities along with these artists.
Artron, as the brand who first began to develop products to suit artists’ practical needs, has a deep understanding and comprehension on artists’ demands on information and communication. In January 2011, Artron skillfully integrated its technology and information resources accumulated from the past decade and launched the iPad’s client application for digital assets management. The application was deemed as the best mobile tool for artists to exchange ideas and present their works.
In 2000, Artron launched As the biggest and most authoritative web portal of Chinese artworks, is the No.1 preferred media form on artistic news and an indispensable tool for artwork lovers and collectors. It has already become the most recommended website in the art industry. With more than 500,000 high-class members and an average page view of 8 million people everyday, Artron ranked among the top 400 websites according to a poll released by ChinaRank, and topped the websites in art field. It is a necessary study and communication platform for all those who are interested in Chinese art, and a channel to promote traditional Chinese culture and art.
Set up in July 2008, Artron Art Market Monitoring Center is an independent research institute affiliated to Artron Enterprises (Group) Limited. It aims to study and objectively analyze the condition of Chinese artwork market with the millions of artwork transaction records collected by the Chinese Artworks Database since 1993, and provide consultant services. Through research and periodically releasing the AAMI, reports on Chinese artwork market and organize market research seminars, the Center keeps a close eye on the developments and trends of the Chinese artwork market, analyzes its allround condition and hot spots, grasp its developing rules and predicts future trends, and provides information for artists, artwork dealers, collectors, art lovers, investors, governments and the media to help them make the right decision.
China IP: How does Artron understand and think of IP protection?
Mr. Pan: With the development of the market, the attributes of artworks have changed. For Artron, how to protect, spread and absorb the new art resources has long been an issue worthy of our in-depth thinking. In the past, there used to be many artists whose IP rights were infringed upon. However, today Artron enables every artist to access his/her own database so that their IP could be protected expressly. As society, technology and the industry develop, this service will eventually become a new business mode.
As the largest art service organization in China, we know better than anyone else that IP protection is an important responsibility for a company. As a result, we always emphasize IP protection work concerning Chinese artworks. In 2010, as one of the founders, Artron in joint efforts with the National Palace Museum and other well-known entrepreneurs to set up the National Place Heritage Protection Found, with the aim of protecting and passing on the Chinese traditional culture. As a company in the cultural field, Artron devoted itself to promoting IP protection, and was awarded the 2010 Most Influential Enterprise in China’s Copyright Field Prize.
China IP: What is the best way to protect IP perfectly in the process of managing and using such a large artwork database?
Mr. Pan: Artron has always been attaching great importance to IP protection. From the early state of focusing on printing only to providing services to artists and art organizations, Artron gradually formed a comprehensive service platform for artists and art organizations. We set up databases for nearly 10,000 Chinese artists and adopt images as major storage subjects. As our experience grows, we have stored more than 20 million pictures of artworks, among which millions are of high quality, and could suit the demands of publication. This gave rise to a new problem: how should we protect and spread these resources? In the aspect of protection, we use technical measures and strict processes to ensure that these pictures cannot be accessed and used illegally. We treat this as our basic responsibility.
China IP: What are the distinguishing features of Artron’s policies on copyright using?
Mr. Pan: Artworks can be re-used and circulated through the internet. In the publishing industry, artworks are used more widely in diverse forms; therefore, how to use the copyrights properly is a new issue for us. Protecting artists’ copyrights is our responsibility and we have been exploring and trying to find the right way. In 2006, we launched a new service which provides the artists with Artist Digital Asset Management Service (ADAM). That is, by signing an asset management contract, we will be authorized the right to digitalize the artworks and manage the information safely. In addition, we use to set official websites for the artists and on it we post information about artists and their copyrights to protect their interests. We have also set up a Licensing Department, which is responsible for safeguarding artists’ copyrights and other relevant legal interests through signing copyright licensing contracts.
Artron has, at present, the largest Chinese artworks database, which is its core advantage. Based on it, Artron adopts various electronic reading techniques such as the network, handsets and other reading devices to spread information to our clients more effectively. In this manner, we can also make full use of the database. After being authorized by auction companies, Artron began to develop its own IP protecting technologies and system, to digitalize the auction process and connect it with detailed auction information, the information of the concerning artwork and the artist. In the future, Artron will develop digital artwork publications through copyright licensing and protection system.
China IP: Faced with a more and more complicated environment for copyright protection, Artron will adopt what kind of working method? What experience can it share with the industry?
Mr. Pan: During the process of practice, we have discovered some methods of copyright protection for art works. They have become our principles and we’d like to share them with other people who are also working in the field of copyright protection for art works. First, copyright protection for art works is a very complicated issue. We should classify the copyright protection for art works into different types, and use different methods for different types of protection. Second, copyright protection is a national issue as well as a social one. It also concerns the obligees. Copyright protection of art works should depend on the strength of the people and those whose interests are concerned under the guidance of the government. Only in this way can it achieve the best effect. Third, one method for copyright protection for art works is to take advantage of the economic mechanism of the market. Fourth, advanced technology should be used to protect the copyright. In the past, most infringement happened in the traditional publication field. But now there are more and more infringement cases through digital technology. Therefore there should be more multiple protection methods for copyrights. Fifth, the convenience of usage of art works by the society should also be considered in addition to copyright protection. At present, there is a great demand for usage of art works in society. However, it is not easy for people to find lawful channels to get the works of art. Some people did not infringe upon others’ rights on purpose. The reason for their infringement is that they simply cannot find the copyright owner; therefore, they have no way to pay them. We should consider establishing an effective mechanism not only to ensure that the lawful rights of the copyright owner are protected, but also to ensure that the market development is greatly promoted.
Pan Jianping was born in 1969. At present, he is the Vice President of Artron Enterprises (Group) Limited and member of the Standing Committee of CPPCC of Shunyi District in Beijing.

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