Demystifying APIs For The Art World (Recording + Highlights)

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This week on ArtEvolve we were joined by Abián Zaya, Founder and CEO of ITGallery, and Paloma Aransay, Client Liaison of ITGallery. They chatted with us about API integrations and why they are so useful to the art world.


What is an API?

When we talk about APIs, we’re really talking about API integrations – but what does that mean exactly?

In the context of software, integration is connecting two or more software systems to create a new, larger system. These software applications work together in the new system to complete organizational processes more effectively and efficiently. This is called system integration and can work in a number of different ways.


Integration Patterns:

Migration: Moving data from one software to another.

Broadcast: One-to-many communication. One software sends data to many other softwares.

Aggregation: Many-to-one communication. Many softwares updating a single software with data.

Bidirectional sync: Two softwares send data back and forth.


API = Application Programming Interface

APIs are a type of software that allows two or more software applications to connect to each other. APIs can also connect different pieces of a single software application internally.

APIs are like roads, while the software applications are cities. Without a road, the cities are separate entities. With a road, they become a larger system.


APIs are a key method of integration because they are…

Built for Security. Rather than opening access to the entire application, you send small packets of precise data to the destination via the API.

Accessible. Many applications have APIs that are publicly available.

Standardized. You’ll see similar features across most APIs worldwide.


How do API integrations work?



APIs are so commonplace that you’ve probably already used one online…even if you didn’t realize it at the time! If you’ve ever used a third-party website for travel, rental cars, or other price comparison tools, you’ve definitely used an API before! If you’ve ever logged in to a website with your Facebook or Gmail address – that works by API too.


Why are API integrations valuable?


  • Saving time. Sharing data between platforms is incredibly time-consuming if done manually, an API automates that process.
  • Storing and collecting data into your central database helps stop valuable information being siloed and inaccessible.
  • Connecting to and utilizing the software of others means you don’t have to build the same tool, at great time and expense.
  • Adding new features that don’t exist in your central software. Handpicking the systems you want to use (and that are the best for each particular task) means you don’t need to find one platform that does everything.


How can APIs be used in the art world?


  • Add functionality by connecting your main database/collection to tools (such as Articheck and ITGallery!
  • Make your collection database accessible to a wider audience. Many museums, such as New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and London’s Natural History Museum have public APIs that let users search the collections for datasets, images, or research information. Depending on the API, the data can be used for commercial or non-commercial purposes.
  • Pay with PayPal or other payment tools – museums, galleries, and other organizations can take advantage of audience’s preferred payment methods to authenticate purchases of artworks, gift shop items, donations, and more.
  • Join websites and social spaces for artists and art enthusiasts. Sites such as Behance and DeviantART allows creative professionals to share their work, create lists and collections, and even network with others. Here, APIs are used to collate content from other sources.



How can I get API integrations set up?

This varies from platform to platform, but you’ll usually find an ‘API’, ‘Integrations’ or ‘For Developers’ page on organization websites when an API has already been set up. If an API isn’t available, or if you’re not sure, the best thing to do is ask! Getting in touch with an organization is a great way to let them know their customers would like to use their product in connection with another software. There are so many potential API integrations out there that they might not otherwise know this is a priority for their customer base.


Thank you to our guest speakers, Abián and Paloma of ITGallery, for joining us.