Alex Schinasi and Lee Rotenberg are the founders of ArtSetters, a super trendy ‘community of leading young creatives’ where artists from all walks of life can share and sell their works with the world. Alex was born and raised in Switzerland, attended New York University and went on to become an associate producer for an Academy Award-winning studio in London before founding ArtSetters. Lee originally hails from Boston, Massachusetts, discovered Tel Aviv while traveling the Middle East, fell in love with the city, and stayed. In their next step, the girls of ArtSetters will be moving to NYC to expand their business.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
Alex: My parents. Very cliché, but they’ve always pushed me to reach new heights and to challenge myself. I never could have started my own business and gone through the hurdles of building a startup without their unconditional support.
Lee: My grandfather, Harold Rotenberg. He lived a life filled with faith, optimism, adventure, love and art. He was the first of my family to live in Israel and he set an example of living each day with a smile that extended from ear to ear. I try to emulate his example in my day to day life.
What were your first steps into the business world?
Alex: During my film studies at NYU, I interned at Columbia Pictures’ marketing department. This was my first experience with a giant of the film business. Definitely reinforced my love for film making, but also made me never want to work in a big corporate office ever again.
Lee: I worked in Washington, DC at the Government Affairs office of Lehman Brothers the summer of its downfall. It taught me a lot, but especially the lesson that you’re never too big to fail. Nothing is necessarily permanent, especially not success.
Who is the one person, past or present, you’d love to have dinner with?
Alex: Woody Allen. A major creative and cultural inspiration!
Lee: Bibi (Benjamin Netanyahu). I have a lot of questions for him – not all good. I’d like to see him in the Lee Rotenberg hot-seat. It can make anyone squirm.
What are your favorite weekend activities?
Alex: Hiking with my dog and boyfriend. I need my dose of nature and exercise for the week ahead.
Lee: Anything involving water. Swimming, sailing, paddle boarding.
What’s your hidden talent?
Alex: I have a video art project on Instagram that nobody knows about. It’s called @dailyscreentest and aims at capturing video portraits of my daily encounters. I love using video as a medium, it allows me to show micro-expressions that are impossible to capture on a still image.
Lee: Guacamole. Most people don’t think I can cook…and let’s be honest, I can’t – except when it comes to guacamole. One bite of my guacamole and you’ll think you’ve been transported to a Mexican culinary paradise.
If you were a selfie, what would you look like?
Who was your first celebrity crush?
Alex: Luke Perry from Beverly Hills 90210. I’m a real 90s chick.
Lee: Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys. So embarrassing. But give me a break, he was hot in his prime – ok!?
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What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Alex: Starting my own business. The best risk ever taken.
Lee: Quitting my job to start ArtSetters.
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, what would you be?
Alex: Film Producer, where my passion for creativity took its roots.
Lee: Likely miserable in the finance world…or a starving artist.
If you were a movie character, who would you be?
Alex: Natalie Portman’s Mathilda in “The Professional”
Tel Aviv or New York?
Alex: Tough one, my two favorite cities! We’re in the process of relocating part of the ArtSetters team to New York- in an ideal world I’d be in both places!
Lee: Tel Aviv for the lifestyle, New York for the business.
What’s the best advice you ever got from your parents?
Alex: “To Choose is to Renounce”
Lee: Live happily – life is too short to not choose happiness.
What’s your favorite Hebrew word?
Alex: “Sababa”. Useful in any situation, any time of day.
Lee: “Yallah”. I’m super impatient, so this word fits me.
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