Episode 45: Exhibiting Your Work at an Art Gallery with Tiffany McIsaac
Last year, Jessie had an amazing opportunity to showcase a few pieces of her floral sculptures at The Freedom Factory Toronto after one of the owners of the gallery, Tiffany MacIsaac, handpicked her to be a part of a juried group show of 60 artists.
The experience was rewarding for Jessie in so many ways - exposure to the local art community, engagement with other artists, commissions, and other unexpected opportunities, and taking a prize home for placing 2nd in the juried event. The most exciting was meeting Tiffany herself - a self-taught artist, curator, and visionary behind The Visual Arts Movement.
In this Episode, we chat with Tiffany about her unique approach to curating art, her no-commission art gallery, and her advice to aspiring artists.
Let’s get to know Tiffany:
1. Tell us about yourself. Who is Tiffany MacIsaac?
I am a Toronto based self-taught artist and curator, as well as co-owner of The Freedom Factory Toronto.
2. Tell us about The Freedom Factory Toronto
The Freedom Factory is a no-commission art gallery, event space, and creative hub. We believe that creativity is a state of mind rather than a talent you're born with. Whether you're an artist or an accountant you need creativity in your life! Artists who exhibit with us keep 100% of their sales and we subsidize this by offering private events and curated micro weddings in our space.
3. What is The Freedom Factory's Visual Arts Movement and Weddings?
V.A.M - The Freedom Factory's Visual Arts Movement provides emerging artists with a platform to:
exhibit their work in our juried exhibition for a chance to win amazing prizes
showcase their work in front of industry leaders, art collectors, and the public
sell their work in a zero commission environment
attend professional development workshops and expert panel art talks
as well as creative networking events and art parties
It takes place once a year in various locations around the city as it is too big for our gallery space and typically we accept 60 artists into the juried exhibition. This show is so near and dear to our heart, we actually started curating this exhibition before we opened the first gallery almost 5 years ago. It is such a wonderful opportunity for emerging artists to put themselves out there in a way that can make a true impact on the trajectory of their career and build confidence.
Our Micro Wedding service is something we started to offer officially at the top of this year after seeing so many couples coming to our event space stressed about the cost and workload of planning their large-scale dream day. It is essentially an ALL INCLUSIVE Luxury Micro Wedding Experience designed by local artists. Invest in your marriage, not your wedding! Learn more here.
4. Why would an artist want to show his/her work at a gallery?
Pictures are worth a thousand words but nothing is like seeing an artist's creation in person. It is wonderful to take full advantage of online marketing etc, but hanging your work in a physical gallery gives people an opportunity to view your work up close and personal with trained sales staff on hand to convey the passion and story behind each piece.
Of course, sales are the main objective, however, so many incredible opportunities come from the exposure that showing with a gallery can bring also. Connections to industry professionals who can help further your career, introduction to future buyers and collectors, commission opportunities, brand partnerships, and so on. It is also a great opportunity to build a network of other creatives and like-minded people whether for business or personal connection.
5. How does an artist get shown at a traditional art gallery versus your art gallery?
Typically galleries will post open calls for artists if they are looking to curate group exhibitions with a particular theme. Each open call and gallery will have a specific set of submission guidelines (please read them carefully and treat it like applying for a job). These calls for artists are typically found on the gallery's website or social media platforms.
I think it is important to do your research when it comes to which galleries are best suited for the style of work you do and which you think would best resonate with you. Each will have a different process for how they take on an artist. With us, if you're looking to have a solo exhibition we have a link to start that discussion on our website.
6. What does a curator look for in an artist's work?
I think this varies between curators. While technical ability and precision in your work obviously speaks for itself, I personally look for artists with something to say, whether it's taking a style I have seen again and again and making it your own or the ability to convey a message or story that needs to be shared... for me I would rather work with an artist who has a unique style and voice but may need to work on their technical skills to someone who is "perfectly" trained but lacks originality. But that's me...there is a place for everyone.
7. Who determines the price of artwork at an art gallery? What is the industry standard percentage/proportion that an art gallery receives from the sale of an artist's work?
Typically we work with an artist prior to solo exhibitions to iron out pricing. There are many factors that can be taken into account when pricing art.
Most galleries in the city charge between 20% and 65% commission on the sale of your work ... we take nothing!
8. Given today's artists have the ability to directly market to buyers, how relevant is it today to show at a gallery or be represented by an art agent?
I think that showing in a gallery is always relevant! Again, it gives prospective buyers an opportunity to see your work in real life and it is never the same experience as seeing it online. Also as I previously mentioned there are many opportunities that come as a result of exhibiting, connections to industry professionals who can help further your career, introduction to future buyers and collectors, commission opportunities, brand partnerships, meeting other artists.
You can always get your feet wet with group shows exhibiting one or two pieces at a time. This can give you an opportunity to see how buyers react to your work and decide which galleries you prefer working with.
I am not for or against the idea of an agent...I would caution an emerging artist to really do their research before signing on to a representation deal exclusively whether it's a gallery or an agent as there are a lot of people out there looking to sell you the dream and take advantage.
I would not want to be paying my agent a commission on top of paying the gallery they are putting my work in a commission ... it all adds up fast and before you know it you're left with nothing after your time and supplies etc. It's like that band who signs the record deal right away because they are excited but now that label owns them and they're still broke. But certain deals are worth making, just do your research.
9. What would be your advice for an aspiring paper flower artist?
Own your craft! It is an art and just as worthy of being shown in any place your heart desires to see it . Put yourself out there and don't be afraid to hear no.
Also, make it your own. What sets your paper florals apart?
10. Is there anything else you'd like to share with our listeners?
Yes, we have actually started our own podcast called Creativity Unleashed where we invite you to reconnect and explore the multi-layered chasms of creativity that exist within each of us. We will also introduce you to our network of artists and industry professionals as we explore creativity as a state of mind rather than a talent you're born with. Here you will find guided meditations, insightful conversations, and evocative tools to help you unleash your full potential... because when we live life from a place of creative thinking, the opportunities are endless.
Learn more about Tiffany and The Freedom Factory by following them on social media:
WEBSITE | The Freedom Factory
PODCAST & BLOG | https://www.thefreedomfactorytoronto.com/blog
YOUTUBE | Creativity Unleashed Podcast
INSTAGRAM | @thefreedomfactorytoronto
FACEBOOK | /thefreedomfactorytoronto