An Artists’ Market on democratization of the art market

In this series of interviews on art buying, we spoke to Gloria Rossi, artist and founder of An Artists’ Market (AAM). Gloria started AAM to bring art to a wider audience and provide a platform for emerging artists in Singapore to showcase their craft. To show her commitment to the cause, she does not take commission from the sale of artworks.

Tell us more about An Artists’ Market. What got you started on this and how has it been so far? 

An Artists’ Market was born to meet two main needs I encountered as I started making art. As a new emerging artist, I felt I needed a community of like-minded people that I could talk to and be together with, to share the joys and pains of making art. Making art is an incredibly self-centred indulgence, but it strikes me how much it needs the support of others as much as it needs the solo effort!

The second need was for a sales platform that was accessible, easy and fun! The channels available to artists for selling their art have increasingly grown with social media and Instagram provides a great opportunity for artists to show art in an easy and less costly way – and for the audience it is a new accessible and fun way to buy art.

One evening I was sitting on my sofa and I realized there wasn’t an Instagram based art market yet, and that – especially during the pandemic -it would be fun alternative to a physical event to have a virtual art market that would occur -just like fairs do- at specific dates during the year, very niche, artist led, curated and entirely on Instagram. So, that evening I started researching and after a few weeks I found a few Singapore based artists via Instagram that I liked, contacted them via DM with my idea and An Artists’ Market was born!

How is An Artists’ Market different from other online art galleries? 

An Artists’ Market is firstly artist led, it is run by myself and together with the help of fellow artist Emi Avora we plan and think and organize all the shows.

An Artists’ Market is actually a ‘market’. This means it operates more as a fair would, rather than a permanent gallery. The market is only happening at selected dates and for a determined amount of days, which means it also is more akin to an art show. This allows us to prepare and create something interesting and unique, and also gives the audience an ‘event’ like appeal. The market is ‘live’ on the set dates and only on those dates you are able to buy the works, hence there is momentum. Also, the sale transactions happen directly on Instagram – via a comment ‘SOLD’ on the post of the work you like. This allows for a ‘care-free’ and immediate buying experience, the payment and shipping part happens subsequently through the artist directly! This means that the artist and the buyer have direct contact which allows for relationship and trust building and at the same time offloads the “logistics’ to the artist directly. It is therefore important for me to trust the artist ability to manage clients, but also the costumer’s commitment to buy the piece.

I would also say that I take no sales commission, all proceeds go to the artist because the goal is to support their practice and ultimately, I also want the customers to really appreciate the value of the artists’ work not only of the platform they buy from. Also, aside from being predominately Singapore based artists, the curation is light from my part. The artists are able to choose what to present, this allows for a freedom of choice and some sort of responsibility from the artist which I am not sure a normal art gallery does.

What kind of artworks can we see from your market? Are there certain themes or styles? 

The first two AAM markets have seen a good mix of mediums and themes which I believe made them even more so interesting to the audience; we showed paintings on canvas (acrylic and oils), works on paper, collage, print making and sculpture! We even showed video work by Frances Alleblas at the physical space last March. There has been no specific theme so far and I strive to also bring a good mix of styles as artists are at different stages of their practices which allows for a good variety in terms of styles, prices, but also artistic pursuits and ideas.

Some people find fine art or the act of buying art intimidating. What are your thoughts on this? 

I believe that art is indeed very special and when you recognize something special it can be at first intimidating. But we need to believe that we can approach art freely, that art, if anything, is possibilities. It is enhancing and expanding our knowledge of life, seeing or buying art is enriching as much as education is; hence it shouldn’t be a privilege or elitist, I believe in the ‘democratization’ of the art market. As much as education should be available to all, then art should be too. As more platforms like the An Artists’ Market come to life then art is taken down from a pedestal without devaluing it; it is actually by the act of bringing it to a wider audience that we make the statement of how important it is to our lives.

I however believe that art, because of its relevance and high value, is not a commodity and hence shouldn’t be as easily traded. It should be handled as valuable and presented to the audience in a considered way. The An Artists’ Market is a small curated platform where we place utmost importance in the value of the works we present, and how we present these.

I believe art buying shouldn’t feel intimidating, rather empowering. Via the An Artists’ Market Instagram sales platform and our brand ‘voice’ we aim to make it fun and accessible in the hope to remove the intimidation barrier between the buyer and the art.

Do you think there’s any link between art and wellness? If so, can you tell us more about it? 

Absolutely! Firstly, making art for me is incredibly important for my emotional and mental well-being. But also, without art in general, not just making art but seeing and experiencing all art, it would be an extremely limited world. Art opens the mind and the soul, it makes us see and feel beyond what we know! It gives us hope for something better. It also soothes our minds and souls to see how our feelings or preoccupations into a painting or a sculpture, art gives life to our most internal and deep feelings, it shows them and shifts them for us, it is the ultimate solace. The way I see the world is: first there is nature, then there is humanity and then… there is art. Art is a whole dimension of its own, art is life and I think without it there wouldn’t be life.

You are also an artist. What got you started on painting and how did you start showcasing your artworks?

All my life up until my mid-30s I felt like I was missing something, I was always looking for something more in life and I didn’t know what that was until I encountered art making. I didn’t know I could make art –I never realized I was ‘entitled to’ – and when I discovered I could, that nothing stood between me and making, the relief was overwhelming. Everything I was looking for, for so long, was suddenly available to me and it was mind blowing.

I started showcasing my work mainly on Instagram, then I showed on virtual art shows through a submission process, and also via the An Artists’ Market both virtually but also physically when we had the show at Art Outreach at Gillman Barracks here in Singapore.

Are there any artists who have influenced your painting style? Could you share an artwork you have that has been inspired by them?

There are so many artists that influence me and still do! I could name hundreds of them but two main examples come to mind. I follow a few Australian painters on Instagram and I remember coming across Laura Jones. She mainly paints flower still lives in a very painterly way, but I once saw some ink or loose acrylic portrait sketches of hers, and was entranced by the use of one single colour, such as blue or black, and the looseness of the line, almost like something between  a painting and a sketch or drawing. I did a few paintings in that fashion after seeing hers. So freeing to work with one single main colour and with line. I also admire the intimacy of the work of Chloe Po, one of our An Artists’ Market artists and I was inspired by her use of small objects to immerse oneself inside another world and to crystallize a story in time.  I did a few collages using resin recently with that specific aim in mind.

Is there a quote or life motto that you live by?

Oh that is a hard question, if I had to pick one it would be that no situation or problem in life is ever too complicated or difficult, once you narrow something down to its essence it all quickly becomes very simple and clear.

Lastly, what are the future plans for An Artists’ Market? 

We are currently thinking about the next An Artists’ Market, which I envision to come this fall. I would like to add an extra bit of novelty or ‘spice’ to this one, and I am yet to decide what that will entail. We had great feedback and response from the last AAM which came with a physical show alongside the Instagram main platform, so I would like to keep showing the works physically alongside it. A fun and unexpected venue could be interesting for the next one! Watch this space!

Follow An Artists’ Market on IG @anartistsmarket.

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