The interviews of ProfessioneArte.it
He is Lapo Sergi President of APICE SCrl.
Five questions to get a preview of the great art professionals, the daily challenges to face, the choices that have determined their path in the system and in the art market, the changes under the banner of digital and the advice for those who want to undertake the same career in collaboration with ProfessioneARTE.it.
Randomness and a bit of luck, together with high specialization are the ingredients that have determined the path of Lapo Sergi, Presidents of APICE SCrl, a unique company with a strong internationally recognized identity dedicated to packaging, transport, shipping and storage services of works of art.
A great truth is confirmed by Sergi, now more than ever: you can’t improvise art transporters anymore, and whoever wants to become one must invest in himself, to acquire skills, professionalism and knowledge of standards, equipment and new technologies.
This profession “either loves or hates” according to Lapo Sergi, why he reveals it in this exclusive interview.
Lapo Sergi is President of APICE SCrl an Italian company for the packaging, transport, shipping and storage of works of art.
Graduated from the “Alma Mater Studiorum” University of Bologna in Economics and Commerce, he began his career as a freelance journalist for the main Ferrara newspaper, before moving on to the Art Logistics sector in 1996.
He worked for the best Italian agents taking care of over 3,500 exhibitions during his career, first as an operational coordinator, then as a location manager.
In 2003 he left office to found his own company in Florence, which in 2009 joined three other leading Italian companies from Milan, Venice and Rome to form Apice.
He was elected in 2016 in Geneva as the representative for Europe of the Steering Committee of ICEFAT – International Convention of Exhibition and Fine Art Transporters, and re-elected in 2019 in Washington D.C. with a new three-year term.
1. How did your path in the art world started?
Coincidentally, when I frequented the world of art thanks to friendships and kinships, I came to know that a company in the sector was looking for a person to be included in its structure in Florence, halfway between the commercial clerk, the clerk press and public relations.
I had been working for 10 years in a Ferrara newspaper as a publicist journalist and I was eager to return to my hometown of Florence, for this reason I proposed and it went well.
2. How would you describe your profession today?
It is a small highly specialized niche, there is no longer improvising art transporters coming from other sectors such as commercial shipments or removals.
Now it is a specific profession, which requires a non-indifferent know-how, which is acquired over the years, not days.
For those who undertake it, it is an investment in themselves: the specialized resources on the market are very few and therefore extremely precious.
3. How has your profession changed over time?
First of all, the profession has evolved a lot over the years, in fact it is now well defined, with operators of the highest level in the most culturally active nations, but also in countries where the transport of art as a specific profession was absent, now they are slowly specializing. Once sending a work of art to a remote country was an adventure, now certain practices are spreading almost everywhere.
The increasingly specialized packaging materials, the most technologically advanced means of transport, the warehouses and warehouses with very high safety levels, the methodical attention to air conditioning, the management of services. It is no longer enough to wear white gloves to call oneself a “specialized transporter”, now it is essential to have a solid background of knowledge, equipment and means. The times to organize the services have also been extremely reduced, so it is necessary to be well structured to cope with this type of request.
4. What impact is digital having in your sector?
Not very much, because two hands and a truck are always needed to pack a work and transport it, but everything that surrounds this important service has benefited: communication, the digitization of transport documents, the creation of specific software to manage the back office of our profession, the creation of networks of specialized companies.
When I started this job, in 1996, the communication was mainly via fax and was much slower than now, although more effective because it was necessary to concentrate the essential and most important information in a few lines.
At the moment we are even experimenting with new internal packaging produced with 3D printers or numerical control machines on the digital scanning of the works for a perfect measurement: a technology already applied to the transport of the “Winged Victory” of Brescia under restoration at the Opificio delle Pietra Dure di Firenze.
5. What would you suggest to someone who wants to undertake your career?
I usually tell students that I meet or those who turn to us for an interview that this profession either loves or hates, I have almost never found someone who lived it with indifference.
Every day is different from the other and there may be moments of tension or endless days, because often you cannot put off what you have to do until tomorrow.
Thanks to this work there is also the satisfaction of participating in the organization of large events or moments of meeting and sharing with colleagues, we are all in solidarity with each other and over time true friendships have been born.
There are many ways to approach this job, sometimes through curricular internships and post graduate specialization courses.
We will soon launch specific initiatives to bring young people closer to the profession, the project is called Apice Academy and is nearing completion.
The advice is to try, if you have the opportunity: if one is smart and has passion, he has a way to prove it.
Ah, I forgot: English is the international language of transportation, so being fluent in conversation and writing is now a necessity.