How ArtGuru could organise your next date….


….with your favourite artist.


It is spring and it is time to discover. If you suffer from hay fever and cry at flowers not because of their everlasting beauty, if your skin is so pale that the producers of Twilight nearly called you up, than what better time is there than to hide in the safe realms of British art galleries? This blog comes indeed a little late, but we thought we don’t want to steel Apple’s SpringForward show on Monday.

And we might not have a $10.000 gadget to show off (hell, not even a stage and snazzy shirts), but what we do have, is free: our app. If you don’t have it yet, than now is the best time to get it, preparing yourself for the British summer rain. It comes in a single colour and can turn your handheld iOS product into a personal art assistant. Instantly.

I have started this entry telling you to discover. And so you should. If you already have the app than you might have noticed a little update this weekend: the Discover function. It looks a little like this:


We decided that it was time to include a function into our app that so far has only been common practice in your well-known music apps: recommending what to look at next based on what you have already seen. We here at ArtGuru have learned it the hard way: Looking at a painting, liking it and then starting a complicated Google search, finding out where to go next. Doing that only for London, we thought, is already a huge task, but for the whole of the UK this was sheer impossible. And in an age where everything seems to get easier with the help of apps, finding art was not one of them.

I have talked about the existing apps in an earlier blog post and the trouble of having them all in order to be always up to date. And this is when we decided to cooperate a news feature in our app, personalised, and tailored around you.

How often do we look at recommendations that are kept so general that we might as well look at somebody else’s phone? But since our mobile devices turned into something so close to us (hopefully not too close…), so why shouldn’t the messages we receive be personal as well?

The function itself is absolutely easy. You don’t have to do anything, well, not more than you already did. Collect the art you like, store and share it and we do the rest.

So how might this look in practice? Well, for example, quite early on I started to collect van Gogh and Monet. I am a huge fan of impressionism and post-impressionism. In the past, I have relied on my mediocre art education from high-school to identify new artists or artists in the legacy of impressionism. Sure thing, I have missed quite a lot of them. Now, by liking just one of them, let’s say Sunflowers by van Gogh, I get recommendations on other paintings that are similar or by van Gogh himself. I can go through them, like or dislike them, and the Discover function becomes even more personalised.

It is like a dating app, but for (mainly) deceased artists and their work. And without the awkward meeting thing, when you suddenly realise that they look nothing like they did on that photo. We make sure that what you see, will be the same painting in the end.

But eventually we want to take that even further. A date wouldn’t be a date if you didn’t know where to meet up. And instead of shabby bars in the back corners of the town, you’ll meet them in breath-taking buildings like the Tate Britain, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery of Scotland, or Tate St. Ives.

I, for example, would get a notification letting me know that the Impressive Impressionist exhibition is currently on at the National Gallery. With one click, I could get to know more about it, how to book tickets and share it with friends to see who might pop along (this might be awkward for a real date though…).

So there is a lot to look forward to. And if we experience the same heat as last year, where better can you hide from that hideous sunburn then in the art galleries of the UK?

We go online offline

It has been an exciting and interesting past week. But also cold. Mostly cold. We are grateful that art pop-ups are a thing of the summer and that the exhibitions we have visited are inside. In the warmth. Mostly.

So what did happen this week? First of all: The guys from Create-Hub, and mainly Samuel Fry, gave us the opportunity to publish our journey on their online platform. That gave us not only the chance to re-cap on our journey so far but to also explain in detail how ArtGuru actually works. Everything that does not fit into the 140 characters on Twitter. You can find the article here: .

Make sure that you have a flick through their other articles as it gives you a pretty good insight in what is happening currently in terms of digital technology in the art world. We will be reflecting on this during the next couple of weeks, showing you what is going on in our art and technology bubble.

If you have read our article you might have had a read-through through our challenges that we had to overcome in order to be where we are now. And I can assure you: we are nearly there. There are some more changes to come in the following weeks. If you are one of our beta-testers you might have noticed the latest update: the offline version. There is no longer the need to hold up your device in front of the painting, risking a numb arm in the process (or successful work-out, we are still in the new-year’s resolution mood). Just point ArtGuru on the picture you like, wait until the red ArtMinions are all over the painting, tap on the screen and the app will take a picture for you. If you are online, the image will be send to our servers, analysed and in a matter of seconds you will have the results, without waiting in front of the picture. We still do encourage you however to take a closer look of the painting anyway. It gives you the chance to discover things you didn’t see before.

If you, for example, are at any point at the Staatliche Museen in Berlin, have a look at this painting, called Netherlandish Proverbs from Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Netherlandish Proverbs, 1559 – Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Netherlandish Proverbs, 1559 – Pieter Bruegel the Elder


Quiet an innocent scene you might think. Well, if you have a minute, start counting the *ahem* backsides you will see in this painting and let us know your answer.* Every painting is worth a closer look.

But back to topic.

If you are in a museum that doesn’t have WiFi and you don’t have any data plan with your phone, ArtGuru now also works offline. Just take a snap of the painting you want to have in your personal gallery and ArtGuru will detect when you are online again. It will send the images to our servers and you will get notified with a little icon on the top of the page that the artist and the title has been recognised. Easy as chips, as they might say here.

If you have an iPod like me, running iOS7 or higher and you were worried until now that you might not be able to use it in galleries, I can assure you the newest update changed it totally. I can now tour museums like the Courtauld Gallery, which doesn’t have Wifi, take pictures of the paintings I like and want to share, and later, in one of the famous green coffee houses with Wifi, I can have a flick through my newest collection.

The whole process is shown below, using van Gogh as an example, as the art world does so often. And even better. Once you took a snapshot it does not mean you will have to live forever with that slightly blurred “this other person pushed me” picture. You can take it again, even after ArtGuru already recognised the painting, and it will automatically replace it if you push the like button. No more share embarrassment. (Though we can’t guarantee that for any other pictures you take).

van gogh



We will keep you updated on when and where the final version of ArtGuru will be available for everyone. Until then, if you want to have a play around, here is the usual drill: email and go exploring.



* We don’t have an answer. We are still counting ourselves. But we were assured by experts that there are more than 100.