Before the age of social media, art galleries often acted as the gate keepers of information. They secretly prefer (and many still do) that artists don't learn how to get their own clientele. We however, encourage it. One thing is for certain, their most prized possession has always been... their big collectors. We're talking about people who don't even know what the term "sticker shock" means.
In hopes of giving other creatives a leg up on the competition, we recently interviewed an intriguing individual. This particular collector (who's chosen to remain anonymous) has been stimulating the art economy for years. Some of his past purchases have completely altered the careers of emerging and established artists. We'll explore a small glimpse of his home. We'll also speak with him on how he selects artwork and what he looks for in artists. Throughout our interview, he'll go as the alias "Mr G."
AR: What created your fascination with art ?
Mr. G: I think like most people, I’m fascinated with creatives, the act of creation, and the meaning we can put into our work as well as the meaning we find in our work. This is true of artists and just people in general.
It’s a wonderful thing to experience what can be created by the talent of people who dedicate themselves to a skill or a set of skills. Art is such a broad term for sharing our imaginations with others and I don’t know how anyone can not be fascinated by that.
When I attended Art Basel awhile back, that's when I think the collecting aspect really took shape.
Sandra Chevrier - LA CAGE JE N'AI PAS PEUR, 2018
AR: Can you elaborate more on your Art Basel experience?
Mr G: Sure, so for many, Art Basel can distract people away from what the whole event is really about. As you probably already know, there are live music acts and an endless amount of partying going on. From a business perspective, that's the down side. The upside is that it opens a door to many people who aren't regularly exposed to great art. You have to choose to go through that door and be culturally aware.
AR: Do you make purchases on art with investment in mind or more so as something you love?
Mr G: I quite honestly do both…Art for me has to have a “Thing” that I enjoy, emotionally or spiritually; for lack of a better term. I look at it as a portal or a channel into emotions or thoughts or nostalgia. It’s emotional and spiritual because it resonates and it can expand and create new thoughts in the minds of those who experience it, but it can also be a great investment. Anyone who denies the power inherent in the different sides of that coin do themselves a disservice as investors or artists.
Art is an investment, it has to be respected for its embodiment of another person’s time, materials and the honing of their talent to allow them to channel their inspiration into physical form. You have to look at the skill and care they dedicated to bringing their creations to life and the sacrifices of that.
For me, finding art that I love is the real joy of collecting. While I do think about the investment implications, I’ve learned that if I find something I love, that connects with me, it’s energy is normally undeniable. If its energy is undeniable to me, I can feel confident others will feel my love and pride in owning it and then I’m naturally an advocate for the artist and for their work.
So in this way I’ve made sure I’m always happy with my purchases personally, I’m always speaking to that artist's talent, and the art and what I see in an artist spreads throughout my network. It’s of course pretty basic to buy what you love and then no matter what you love what you own.
AR: What area of art have you been most excited about recently?
In recent years, I’ve loved exploring respected local artists in the cities I travel to and particularly street artists in Chicago. There is an interesting element at play with artists who have begun to hit their stride and have confidence in their style.
Street artists tend to have that explosive exposure phase that comes with working on murals and commissioned pieces and that is naturally followed by an exponential growth phase in the desire of collectors who can find their work.
If you’ve been a supporter of that artist, then of course you get to benefit from the subsequent scarcity in available work and an artist can finally have pricing power, at which point everyone in the ecosystem of that artist wins. Along with them as they advance in their career. I think the right partners in this formation of inspiration, creation, network, exposure…etc is really powerful.
Understanding The Purchase
We got up for a moment and looked around at a few pieces. Mr. G was happy describe what influenced him to make the purchase of each piece of art.
Hebru Brantley - NEGRO MYTHOS SERIES , 2016 Screenprint
Mr. G: Hebru’s work is so incredible I almost don’t know where to start, but I fell in love with this piece right away due to simply loving the nostalgia of these characters. I have a young son and reliving the comic books, cartoons, and anime characters of my youth and seeing how he identifies with all forms of mythology made me want to have this be something we could enjoy and I feel a lot of.
Mr. G: I’m hard pressed to speak on one Rawooh piece in particular. I love his use of comics and the dime novel or stamp aesthetics. Whether his work is full of color or black and white, I find his images and settings to always feel vibrant and deep. His fantasy elements and eye for detail make everything he creates such a pleasure to look at.
Purchasing his work felt like a natural choice based on his progression as an artist over the years. What really motivated me to start buying his work was his street art collaboration with Max Sansing. I already had quite a few pieces by Max in my collection and I wanted to branch out to other artists. When I saw that they've worked together and how their styles compliment one another, it just felt like a great addition for my home.
Max Sansing - YOU ARE LOVED (DELUXE), Oils on Copper, 2019
Mr. G: Max Sansing is one of my favorite artists and I’m lucky to have almost a dozen of his pieces. Along with all the artists featured here, I’m obsessed with his use of color. I love the expression of the colors on brass and the symbolism present with the arrows and the triangle as the child’s focal point. It’s one of my favorite pieces that I own.
The fact that we have to suffer attacks our whole life and try to keep moving... this one spoke to me. I also love that it's on brass. As I collect more work, I look for things that are unique.
Joe Miller - PATRICIA SCHIERHOLT, 2019, Mixed Media
Mr. G: This piece by Joe Miller is also one of my favorites. It has my love of color and symbols and the overlay of the bright and vibrant with slightly faded, but regal vintage earthiness and a hell of a great frame!
Wij... POWER OF THE MIND, 2017, Original
Mr. G: This one actually reminded me of a poem by Rudyard Kipling titled "IF". The poem is about staying grounded and keeping your head in the right place.
The rest of the story behind the piece you guys already know. I'll tell it for the readers out there though. During the summer of 2017, I was invited to an art show at a lounge. Before going I researched the featured artist. He recently had a write up on Huffington Post. This was a show that Artist Replete was hosting and the first time I heard about you guys. The article I read said a lot of powerful things about the featured artist - Wij. There was demand in the air and about fourteen available pieces for sale. I purchased three, this is my favorite one of the bunch.
The Defining Question
AR: What advice do you have for an upcoming artist? How could they gain the attention of someone like you?
Mr. G: Lean on your supportive friends and fellow artists to spread the word about your work. Find mentors whose work inspires you and reach out to those you idolize. Find people to delegate the things you don’t really enjoy. If you don’t like to sell or advertise your work, find someone who enjoys that portion of the business because there is a community of collectors and supporters out there looking for great artists.
Do as much mural work as you can. Host events with your art to spread the word in person, but also to share on social media. You are an artist and a brand and a business. Keep working on your craft and putting your heart into it and people will notice.
Be descriptive with your work. It's great to leave things open to interpretation, but it's exciting to get inside the mind of an artist. I can see a piece one way and the artist has an additional meaning behind it. Both interpretations could be correct, but the more info on a piece often leads me to purchase it. Many of the pieces I own were sold to be me through galleries or art dealers. If you're not working with one then I recommend making an effort to describe your work as much as possible.
If you have collectors already, try to meet them or speak to them in depth. Find out what they like about your paintings. You may be tapping into things you don’t even realize are resonating with people or resonating in a way you never intended.