Founder Files: how Frieze founder, Matthew Slotover, got his start

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Matthew Slotover is the founder of Frieze, a media and events company with a focus on contemporary art and culture. The company comprises three publications, four international art fairs, talks and events, and a resource-packed website,

Creative Entrepreneurs founder, Carolyn Dailey, interviewed Matthew for one of our Founder Files as to how he started up what is now a real-world business phenomenon. Matthew explained that he got his start with the launch of frieze magazine:

“We launched at the Royal College Degree Show, just down the road. And people seemed to like it. There was a big art magazine around at the time called Art Scribe, which had been going for 15 years, and it was like the ‘Daddy’ of art magazines in the UK. And we thought, you know, we’re nothing like them. 

Then they had a disastrous relaunch just as we launched. A new owner came along and raised the price to £10 and made it big and fancy. And it was just not what the people wanted at the time. They folded six months later. So [that was] our main competitor – we didn’t even regard it as a competitor, as it was so much bigger than us.

Everyone said, well ok, you’re the new Art Scribe. So we kind of inherited all of their writers, readers and advertisers. So, you know, it was a stroke of luck.”

We feature the ‘starting up’ stories of seven more big-name creative founders, including Charlotte Tilbury, Amanda Levete and Col Needham, in our latest Founder File. They talk about the initial creative brainwave they had, how they spotted a gap in the market and did whatever it took to transform their idea into a brilliantly successful creative business.

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