Let me begin by saying that I have not, technically and officially, opened shop yet. I run a very active gallery Facebook page which has almost 500 likes and a website where I have an E-Shop.
I trained as a painter in Brooklyn, New York. Determined to ‘make it’ as a visual artist, my hopes and dreams were soon dashed once my naivety wore off – which was about half way through my BFA studies.
Around that time, I took on various internship positions, in London, France and NYC, every semester and every summer. I learned that I loved portfolio management, curating and even discovered a talent for website design.
The pursuit of opening my own gallery came as a no brainer. Despite being only 25, I felt I had gathered enough experience in the art world to set up my own business and the gaps of what I didn’t know could be filled by my brother and father, both experts in business and finance.
Coming up with the name and logo, concepts and goals was not overly challenging for me. I have direction, I know what I like and I am determined. That part was easy. Finding talented artists was the start of my real hard work.
Approached by many artists around the UK after posting a few job ads, I selected a core fifteen and promptly set up studio visits with them. My instincts only failed me once, when I took a train and a bus all the way to a studio only to be disappointed by the artwork in person and not feeling a click with the artist. They have since become a part of my daily life,
friendly and outgoing, hardworking and ambitious. Above all, they are unique and have all the potential in the world.
Trying to establish oneself in a big city without many connections is difficult enough on a personal level, let alone when trying to build a career from scratch. I drew upon everyone I and my family knows here, in every field. I spent hours and hours every day doing research on every topic related to opening an art gallery, as well as reading books on marketing and art business.
Keeping up to speed with so many artists is tricky at best and frustrating at worst. Once you approach them with contracts and consignment agreements, E-Shop proposals and exhibitions, some chicken out or decide they rather sell on their own.
The serious artists stick by you and take a risk. That kind of belief is my motivating factor to working as hard as I do. I must say that the biggest hurdles in front of me are finding the perfect commercial space to rent – the prices, the size, availability, location. I underestimated how long it would take me to find a suitable space and how difficult it would be to find something.
The second hurdle is the trial and error of marketing and advertising – a very costly experiment, might I add! Whilst we want to encourage young artists and art lovers, – we are, after all, a centre of education too – finding a client base is of upmost importance and, of course, also hard, time consuming, at times depressing, but ever necessary.
I enjoy what I do thoroughly and the anticipation of our success is exciting. The downfall is the constant level of stress; things are moving along, some days slowly and other days more accelerated. Having a core support group helps, as does my experience in being a struggling artist. I don’t know what happens to a dream deferred, but it certainly isn’t healthy and I am not going to let anyone down, least of all myself.