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“Monthly online art gallery exhibitions” With art gallerist Robert Berry

Too many dealers are focused on closing the sale at any cost — and they risk losing trust. I’m here to champion the artists and make a long-term positive impact on the world. The other main tipping point is that I want to be able to help my clients build reputable collections that they love, […]

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Too many dealers are focused on closing the sale at any cost — and they risk losing trust. I’m here to champion the artists and make a long-term positive impact on the world. The other main tipping point is that I want to be able to help my clients build reputable collections that they love, not just sell them whatever I think they should have in their collection. I want every person who purchases art to come back to me and say, “Robert, I still love that painting I got from you ten years ago. I’d never sell it, but I’m glad to see that it’s gone up in value.”

Ihad the pleasure of interviewing Robert Berry a New York City-based art gallerist, consultant, and advisor.

Having represented many of Manhattan’s top art galleries, and with over 15 years’ experience selling and collecting fine art, Robert launched his own gallery Robert Berry Gallery in New York City. His first show, which debuted in May 2020, Impressionable, featured nine breathtaking works of rock icons by Chicago-based artist John Ruby. His new show, which debuted in June 2020, is called Double Bluff, a series of twelve new paintings questioning the notions of unattainable beauty, desire, and identity by London artist Machiko Edmondson. Robert Berry Gallery was founded in 2014 with a focus on world-changing art, and a specialty in identifying and working collaboratively with emerging 21st century artists whose work has the ability to positively and powerfully influence society. Robert Berry Gallery works with art industry professionals, galleries, museums as well as advanced and beginning art collectors to establish award-winning collections that are both meaningful and hold long-term value. For more information, please visit www.robertberrygallery.com.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

As founder of Robert Berry Gallery, I have a passion for art that started when I was a kid. I encountered Jackson Pollock’s famous Autumn Rhythm at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and that was the painting that changed everything for me. It was that moment when I was inspired to pursue a career in the arts. As a teenager I would walk around New York City, and put extra emphasis on visiting all the Chelsea galleries discovering new art. I realized early on in my professional career that I was very good at selling, and that the gallery business was going to be the right path for me. After 15 years of leading sales and shows at art galleries in Chelsea, SoHo, and the Lower East Side, I decided to open my own gallery to exhibit and represent the artists that I wanted to work with.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

My first sale was 15 years ago, and the owner of the gallery pointed out how naturally the sale came to me. There are many interesting stories, but mostly it’s about the stories behind the artwork. I love learning how it’s made, the artist’s background and influences, and knowing who it would be right for. I also love getting to know collectors, their preferences and collections, so I can give them something that will be a perfect fit.

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

Honesty is the best policy! Be honest above everything else. I have collectors who have followed me for years over quite a few galleries because they like my curatorial eye, and because they trust me. With Robert Berry Gallery, I represent the artists that I truly love. I even show the collectors how they look in my own home! Second, be a good listener. Artists, collectors and organizations all have unique perspectives on art and what they want to buy. It’s imperative I listen to their hopes, fears and dreams in order to best serve them. Part of building high-quality relationships means being both honest and a good listener.

Ok. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

Hosting monthly online art gallery exhibitions, and getting rid of the expensive commercial lease side of the gallery business. I wanted to tell their stories, and also have control of the artistic vision of the gallery. I also wanted to provide better customer service, taking care of my clients, giving them personal attention, finding the right works for their budgets and collections.

People have a lot of time on their hands during COVID, and are now comfortable purchasing vintage cars, rare antiques, expensive tech products, vintage watches — and they are also getting more comfortable with discovering new artists, and acquiring artwork online. it was pure coincidence that my launch took place during this, and it has been the best thing that could have happened for my business.

How do you think this will change the world?

There are hundreds of galleries in New York City, so what I’ve decided to do with my business is to create a virtual gallery. What that means is that I’ll be running a gallery business with monthly exhibitions, connecting artists to collectors, but all of my exhibitions will be done digitally. The only limitation an artist has for their show is their own imagination.

There’s a much lower overhead of a digital gallery, the artists are able to earn more, and I am able to promote more efficiently. Historically, galleries have made a generic “art buying” experience the objective, which can mean pretentious salespeople, new buyers not getting access to work, and generally, not a fun experience.

I want to create a positive art experience for my collectors. In a digital gallery, artists can promote their visions thoroughly, more clearly, and without worrying about limitations, such as shipping expenses, production costs, and logistics.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?

Black Mirror is actually one of my favorite shows of the last ten years… and it’s usually the loss of humanity that is the downfall to every protagonist’s tale. There are lots of companies that are selling art online, but most of them seem overly commercial, and they don’t have the artist’s career in mind. I want all of my artists to dream big, and let me help them work towards their short and long term goals. I suppose the worst that could happen is the site starts to become self-aware and start selling art for me while I go climb Mount Everest. Guess that’s not too bad actually.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

Too many dealers are focused on closing the sale at any cost — and they risk losing trust. I’m here to champion the artists and make a long-term positive impact on the world. The other main tipping point is that I want to be able to help my clients build reputable collections that they love, not just sell them whatever I think they should have in their collection. I want every person who purchases art to come back to me and say, “Robert, I still love that painting I got from you ten years ago. I’d never sell it, but I’m glad to see that it’s gone up in value.”

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

Nearly 30% of all artwork is sold online, and with COVID-19, 100% of art is being sold online right now. The major art fairs and auctions have all been digital, claiming that record-breaking sales are still taking place. My hope is that more dealers start to see the web as a platform for artists to showcase their talent, and not just another sales tool in their arsenal. Robert Berry Gallery encourages the creativity of every artist — and an online forum offers wide-reaching possibilities a physical space does not.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Start now! Working for myself and one on one with artists is much more pleasant. I spent time learning from others, and I’ve known for at least ten years that I wanted to be my own boss before I turned 40. I have finally met that goal at 39!
  2. Don’t wait until you’re ready, just start. I wish someone told me not to focus on making sure I was 100% ready, as if I did, I never would have been able to launch. It will never be perfect, the point is to start your vision and let it evolve and build over time.
  3. Let technology work for you. The art world is moving on from brick-and-mortar locations. I can put on better shows now that production, shipping, and logistics are no obstacle.
  4. Prioritize relationships. Clients, artists, art professionals — this is a people business above all else. Spend the time to get to know people better. Drink, laugh, and find out what drives them. Then help them on whatever their journey is.
  5. Focus on what you have now. The clients I know and have worked with over the years are more important than a “top 200 list” or any celebrity buyer. The people who already know and trust me are the ones to focus on.

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?

Success is a habit, and it starts with committing to doing your best work every day. My best advice is simple: never reply angry, and always have good news when picking up the phone to call someone. I’ve also learned the power of positive thinking, and that most difficult situations are a challenge waiting for a solution. We are our own biggest critic, and don’t listen to any self-doubt. I learned from my mother that hard work will get you far, but using your intuition will get you the rest of the way there. Lastly, if something takes less than five minutes, do it now — there is no time like the present to get things done.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I’m the founder of Robert Berry Gallery, a virtual gallery based in New York City focusing on emerging artists of the 21st century whose work has the ability to positively and powerfully influence society. I’m not just creating an art gallery, I’m creating a movement toward having more beauty in one’s life, whether that be a painting or sculpture, whether it’s in their home or office. People need beauty, enjoyment, and inspiration more than ever before and as we emerge from today’s global health crisis, a new emphasis has been placed on mental health and emotional wellbeing. Art is a great outlet, offering beauty, enjoyment and inspiration to all who experience it. My vision for Robert Berry Gallery is to help new and experienced collectors broaden and enrich their collections, while offering them enjoyment and value. The world of art will change more in the next five years than it has in the previous 50 years. How people collect art, and how they experience it is rapidly evolving. People are finding that by collecting art, they enrich their lives.

I started the groundwork on my company ten years ago, with the intent on working with only the artists that I personally believed in. I wanted to tell their stories, while also having control of the artistic vision of the gallery. My vision is to find the best artists in their respective mediums, and to find the right client for every work that my artists create: from abstraction, figurative, sculpture, painting, or photography, from first-time buyers to seasoned collectors. For those readers with questions on starting their own art collections, whether for home or office, I’d love to hear from you. Please reach out me at www.robertberrygallery.com; I hope my advice can help, inspire and motivate those interested in emerging art.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Readers can find me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/robertberrygallery.com.

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