This past October, I promised to launch a series of interviews called "Through the Looking Glass" and the time has now come. This series is a collection of conversations with local gallery owners and curators. My hope in presenting this series is to highlight individuals that promote innovative exhibition and art accessibility. My hope is also that this series will allow artists, curators, and collectors to begin practicing a more synergetic approach to sharing what is truly meant to bring everyone together. Please join me on this journey.
Source: 1,2, 4 (Art is Luv), and 3 (Cotton and Flax)
Today we will kick things off with The Collector Art Shop located on College Avenue in Berkeley and in the San Francisco International Airport. I had the pleasure of visiting the Berkeley location one gray afternoon and what a burst of light I felt when I entered the space. Shop owners, Christina Begley and Skye Sullivan, have seamlessly created a classic gallery space with a quaint neighborhood shop appeal. With crisp white walls, industrial polished floors, and rustic tabletop displays, The Collector Shop is a well-curated space with art finds that suit a wide variety of tastes. Christina, a former "peace keeper" (A.K.A social worker) and journalist, and Skye, jewelry designer and animal lover, have a knack for connecting art enthusiasts and the frequent passerby with local artists and their personal stories.
Shop visitors can choose from original art work and limited edition prints or fancy themselves with a one of a kind piece of jewelry, pottery, an artful pocket knife or even a yoyo. When asked how the shop is able to maintain such a diverse group of fun finds, Christina shared that she and Skye look to their buyers to curate inventory. Christina also noted that the shop offers a lay-a-way plan which allows higher end pieces to be more affordable for any potential buyer. Not to mention, imagine all of these finds in an uncluttered space well managed by always helpful and knowledgable staff. The shop hosts artist receptions on the second Friday of every month and the exhibits include six to eight different artists every month. Be sure to stop by and say hello!
Okay, so that's my bit. Here's what shop owner, Skye, had to say.
Art is Luv: Where is home and what makes home feel like home?
Skye: Home is in Albany. Family is what makes home feel like home for me. Oh, and beautiful things, of course.
Art Is Luv: Are you an art collector and if so, what type of art do you like to collect?
Skye: I’ve always been an art collector. I’ve gone from putting up my own drawings on my walls as a young child, to hanging posters and calendar pages as a teenager, to now collecting mostly small original works by local artists. I like to collect all types of art, anything from one of a kind mugs to intricate etchings. I’m continually impressed by the incredible talent by the artists in our area.
Art Is Luv: Part of your company's vision is to provide affordable original art to a wider market with varying taste. What advice can you give to an artist on establishing a price point that will broaden their buyer pool without sacrificing the value of their work?
Skye: Pricing is one of the hardest things to do for an artist. Our feeling is that the artist must be happy with their selling price.
Art Is Luv: In January 2014, you opened up a second location in the San Francisco International Airport, which was a huge feat. Maintaining one space is often difficult for gallery owners. What advice would you give to gallerist on maintaining stability and embracing the idea of growth in what is often a very unstable market.
Skye: My best advice to other gallery owners is to stay organized and be flexible. We’ve found that being accommodating and good problem solvers have been some of our best assets.
Art Is Luv: How do you balance work/life as a small business owner?
Skye: It’s a tough balancing act. There’s not much down time for a small business owner so you need to learn to be in the moment and appreciate the time you have.
Art Is Luv: Since opening your gallery, do you feel like you have been able to capture a more economically and culturally diverse pool of collectors and art enthusiasts?
Skye: Definitely! It’s my favorite thing to watch young collectors come in and buy small prints and cards to tape to their walls to excitedly making their first purchase of an original piece. I feel so proud in those moments. It also makes us so happy when we hear people walk into our shop and say something like “I’m usually intimidated by art galleries, but I feel comfortable here”. We want anyone and everyone to feel that way about looking at art and buying it. It shouldn’t matter how much money you have, it’s about enjoying the art.
Art Is Luv: Why is living with art important to you?
Living with art is important to me because it brings me joy. Not only do I love living with things that are pleasing to the eye, I love that each piece has a story. A story that I can create and re-create.