facebook, twitter, and other such things

It’s true.  A couple of years ago I told friends and family that I would not be joining facebook, twitter, or any other ‘social’ website.  Two years later, I’m on facebook, and twitter, and am also writing this blog!

So, what’s changed? 

I’m opening a new art gallery business, and there is a very good chance that my target audience, both artists and patrons of the arts use social media to communicate.  If I’m not on facebook, or twitter, or if I am not blogging about my journey, then I may as well not exist!

I come from an old school of communication that says, don’t communicate until you know what the person you’re communicating to wants to hear/see/receive.  It’s an old-school of thought as there are now millions of people ‘thinking out loud’ and millions of other people linking in to read what they want to read and discard the stuff that they’re not interested in.

So, here we go!  Please bear with me as this old dog learns some new tricks!  Social media is not my forte and I’m spending way too much time staring blankly at my computer racking my brain to try and think of something that you may want to read!

Thankfully I have a social media extraordinaire and marketing guru (my wife, Samantha from thisisbento.com) guiding me on this journey into the un/known.

If there is something that you want to know, want to read, or are interested in, then please let me know via email at charles@100thgallery.com

you are good enough

Art is in the eye of the beholder. 

Now that my plans to open an art gallery are posted for the entire world to see, I have started to have some very interesting conversations with some very talented people.

Unfortunately, the conversations seem to be following similar lines…

CTH – Wow!  Your work is really good.  Have you ever thought about exhibiting?

Artist – No, it’s just a hobby and I’m really not good enough.

Pffft… look around people.  Art is everywhere.  We have all seen works that make us scratch our heads and say, why on earth did someone pay money for that?  Art is in the eye of the beholder and we all have an inner artist that the world should be allowed to see/hear/feel.

Art is primarily about expression.  If you can express yourself in a way that provides you an outlet whilst making an impression on others, then your job is done.  If your art then inspires others to make positive changes in their own lives, then you have truly succeeded.

This is why one hundredth gallery’s tag line is express | impress | inspire.

Take a chance… as it is likely that you are good enough!

world’s best galleries

I appreciate how fortunate I am. 

I studied hard, worked hard, put in the 16 hours days, and have yielded some of the rewards for doing so.  A big part of these rewards was being asked to relocate from Melbourne to Bristol, UK for three years (2005-2008).  Whilst I originally declined the offer (twice), I ended up accepting it as there was no good reason not to.  Whilst the work was extremely challenging and required incredibly long hours, I made a commitment to keep my weekends for me and to do as much travelling as I could fit in and afford.  I aimed for a weekend trip every six weeks and based my travels on EasyJet’s cheapest flights.

I did over 70 trips whilst I was over there, and each cost me roughly the same as a big night out.  You see, flights with EasyJet from Bristol to just about anywhere in Europe were rarely more than 60 quid… return… including all taxes.  In fact, many of my trips were only £30 quid with the cheapest one was to Rome (return)  for only £20!  Oh, how I miss EasyJet…

I love walking, and that was how I got around each city I visited.  Hostels and Pensiones are normally right in the heart of cities so they always made a good base.  Walking allowed me to get into the fabric of each city and to absorb the culture the best way I could.  It allowed me to soak up the architecture, street art, laneway art galleries, and to see things that trains, buses, and taxis don’t go near.

I also have Portuguese blood somewhere way back in my genealogy; just enough to give it me some Portuguese facial features.  As the Portuguese travelled a lot back in the day, the benefit of having some Portuguese blood is that I looked Italian when in Italy, Spanish when in Spain, French when in France, Portuguese when in Portugal and Dutch when in the Netherlands.  The detriment of this was that the locals always responded to me in the local language!

My assignment to Bristol gave me the opportunity to see some of the world’s great galleries; both big and small.  It is too difficult to choose a favourite gallery, but the Uffizi in Florence will always hold a special place for me as the city of Florence is in itself a living, breathing art gallery.

my favourite art

When at school, I concentrated on realism.  Portraits, landscapes, nature, and still life were my subjects.  However, as I progressed through my year levels I discovered Cubism, Surrealism, Expressionism and Impressionism.  I had found home.

Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali have always been my biggest inspirations.  Not necessarily by their works, but the freeing nature of their works and the thought processes that may have led to those works.  Neither artist seemed to be encumbered by conscious reality, proper form, or by societal pressures.  Both seemed to paint with their souls; transcending space and time, whilst tapping into their blissful subconsciousness and appealing to ours.  Both successfully used representations to tell a story and/or to explain a problem, and both were expert technicians.

To ‘unlearn’ what we know in order to be able to express ourselves in new and inspiring ways is something that I aspire towards.  Hopefully there are others out there that feel the same; others that I can help get there.  Emerging artists… I’m waiting to hear from you!

the pricing strategy

I mentioned in a previous post that unlike most art galleries, one hundredth gallery will focus on exhibiting emerging artists and that we won’t charge exorbitant commissions to display artists’ work.

Instead, the one hundredth gallery concept revolves around renting wall space at a reasonable fixed cost with a small commission on sales, so artists share in the risk and reward for exhibiting and selling their work. 

Based on current modelling, one hundredth gallery’s pricing structure will look something like this:

  • Rented wall space will be for 2 weeks at a time (including move in and move out)
  • A dedicated three metre wall will cost $330 for two weeks
  • A dedicated four metre wall will cost $440 for two weeks
  • Artists can hire more than one wall but not less than one wall (unless a wall is being shared)
  • The whole gallery can be rented based on the prices quoted above
  • Sales commission will be 11% of selling price
  • All prices include GST

This type of model turns ‘normal’ gallery pricing on its head and allows artists to better control the value of their work without losing 40% or 50% in commissions.

Artists will still need to submit the portfolio of work that they wish to exhibit for approval, and so that they can be scheduled with other ‘like’ artists. 

If you’re an artist (emerging otherwise), I’m currently taking bookings for the first half of 2011. If you’re interested, please get in touch via email on charles@100thgallery.com.

the property

13 December is a big day.  13 December is the day that I will (or won’t) get the keys to the first 100thgallery space.

It should have been far simpler than this but it hasn’t been and the past six months have presented some very interesting times!

You see, I found the property in March of this year signed the paperwork in June.  I was due to get the keys in September and as such, I resigned from my job (and comfortable steady income).

In September, I was told that the current/previous owner had gone into administration and that the bank were repossessing the property and shredding my paperwork.  Two weeks later, the administrator via the agent and behalf of the bank told me that I could get new paperwork if I agreed to pay more.  Ummm… how about… no.

Thankfully, the bank came back and agreed to the original price but extended the timeframes to 13 December 2010.  Actually, it was 30 December but this date also had to be amended as the bank’s representatives are all on holiday between Christmas and New Year!

So, in less than two weeks, one hundredth gallery will have a home or I’ll be back to the drawing board.  Watch this space…

why one hundredth gallery?

I really didn’t think that naming the gallery (and business) would be as challenging as it was.  My objectives for the gallery name were that it needed to be self-explanatory, slightly abstract, cutting-edge, appealing, and something that I could be passionate about.  The name also needed to be available as a .com and .com.au and able to be registered with Consumer Affairs Victoria.  Not a tough ask at all!

The working title for the gallery for the past six months was ‘Gallery42’ as 42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything (as per The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams).  The naming committee and marketing extraordinaire (my wife) vetoed the name as too abstract (specifically, the street number of the gallery is probably going to be 49… so, 42 may have been a little confusing), so it was back to the drawing board.  For the record, I still really like this name!

The next great idea was ‘Emergist’ as the gallery’s primary focus is to exhibit emerging artists.  The naming committee again vetoed the name; this time for not being inclusive enough.

Given how challenging the naming process had become, the next working title was (aptly) ‘Untitled’.  We thought that this name was uber-cool, however the internet in its modern form has been around for about 20 years so the web addresses were well and truly gone, however I did register galleryuntitled.com.au just in case.

Next Big Thing; Open Space; Once Upon A Time; Concrete Box; White Wall; Blank Wall; Display; First Look; First Show; Debut; Blank Slate; Tabula Rasa; Site Unseen; Someday, One Day; Tomorrow; Today; Nube; Aspirist; Creatist; Emergin; Future Masters; Spring; Chance; First Chance; Big Picture; Anything; Now; Now Showing; My Art; Get Art; Fluffy Fish and many others were all possible options… well… all of those except for Fluffy Fish (sorry Elise!).

Six months passed and I was still no closer to making a decision.  Thankfully, I had self-imposed a deadline, and that deadline was last Monday.

Enter 100thgallery.

Whilst this may have been the 100th name that we brainstormed, and may very well be the 100th gallery in Melbourne, these weren’t the reasons for name. 

Actually, it was all far more simple than that.  My full name is Charles Tyler Hardman, making my initials CTH.  ‘C’ in roman numerals is 100 and T and H have no Roman numerical value so the decision was made easy!  One hundredth gallery (AKA 100thgallery) was born!

who am i?

After eagerly sending out a launch email yesterday, a friend replied saying that I had forgotten to put my name on the website.  Alas, I had!

I did have a personalised email on the site the night before, but issues with web hosting, domain hosting, name servers, domain servers, mail servers, SSL settings, MX details, A details, etc. (don’t worry, I don’t know what any of that means either) meant that I had to swap to a gmail account.

All is fixed now and charles@100thgallery.com is active, but I thought it would be a good idea to introduce myself to those of you I haven’t met.

Like many people, when I finished high school, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.  Actually, I did know what I wanted to do.  I wanted to paint, draw, and print but I couldn’t work out how I was going to make any money out of it when I couldn’t get a look in with any of the galleries. 

So, I ventured out into the “real” world… I kept my two casual jobs, started a third, and went to university full-time.  Whilst it didn’t all go smoothly (I failed my first semester and was door-knocking for a living), I ended up with an Organisational Psychology degree and was heading up Training & Development for telecommunications companies.

Fast forward another few years and I had completed my Masters in Adult Education (& Training) and was working in General Management roles.  I did a three year stint heading up a business unit in Bristol, UK (a truly amazing experience) and came back to a GM HR role about two and a half years ago.

And there I was.  I had a couple of degrees and 17 years of corporate experience up my sleeve. I had been with my employer for over 7 years and new opportunities for progression had dried up.

It was time to revisit what I really wanted to do… paint, draw, and print.  Whilst I had continued to dabble in painting and drawing during the past years, it quickly dawned on me that the initial hurdles that I faced with exhibiting my work in galleries would still be there.

So, rather than rely on other galleries to exhibit my work, I decided to open my own.  And rather than exhibiting my own work, I would exhibit other artists work.  Emerging artists shouldn’t have to delay their dreams and they shouldn’t have to work in the corporate machine before attempting them.

One hundredth gallery aims to provide a space for artists to exhibit their work, but more importantly provide the opportunity for artists to give their craft a red-hot-go with the aim of making a living out of it.

calling all emerging artists

After many many many years of walking the corporate walk and talking the corporate talk, I have thrown it all in to pursue a personal dream.  More importantly, I have thrown it all in to assist others to pursue their dreams.

I’m opening an art gallery in Prahran, Victoria in early 2011.  One hundredth gallery will be a small fifty square metre space that will be divided into three compact and intimate 3m x 5m rooms.

Unlike most art galleries, one hundredth gallery will focus on exhibiting emerging artists.

Unlike most art galleries, one hundredth gallery won’t charge exorbitant commissions to display artists’ work.

Rather, we have something different planned so please stay tuned as one hundredth gallery aims to turn the gallery world on its head.

I was an emerging artist once… but I never really emerged!  During my twenties, I had three public art exhibitions (two group and one solo) and also have some prints on permanent display somewhere  in Japan… they were a gift from me/my high school to a visiting Japanese delegation.

All of this gave me some confidence to try and pursue a career in the arts, so I started approaching galleries in and around Melbourne.  On each occasion, I was asked three questions…

  1. Where have you exhibited before?
  2. What is the average price of your work?
  3. How much work have you sold at that price?

Most art galleries are commercial operations that exist to make as much money as possible.  Sales = Commissions = Profits.  The bigger the price, the bigger commission.

In my opinion, there is a huge problem with this approach.  Artists need to start somewhere.  Artists need to build their CVs and the value of their work over time.

This is where one hundredth gallery aims to bridge the gap.  I hope you will join me on this journey to uncover our emerging artists and to provide them with a place to exhibit their talent.