I met Jenn Singer several years ago at a gallery in Chelsea, Manhattan. She struck me as a warm, personable and professional individual with a genuine passion for the arts and a natural ability to engage with people, particularly prospective buyers. It is no surprise she celebrates 5 years of running her gallery with the launch of new artist additions, expanded services, a new look and redesigned website where collectors can purchase artwork online. On behalf of Occhi Magazine, I had the pleasure of speaking to Jenn about the gallery, the industry and what we can look forward to.
Jenn, when did you first gain an interest in art and how did it lead to you becoming a gallerist?
I first started my career in the visual art world, nearly 15 years ago, from the perspective of a trained dancer who had been in the performing arts since I was 5 years old.
When I found myself working in an art gallery, almost by accident, I felt at home immediately. My first sale of a painting, that first day on the job, spurred the question “but how much does the artist make?” This question was important for me to ask because, in my experience as a dancer in NYC, the path to making a real living from one’s art can be a tiresome struggle. The answer I received was music to my ears “the artist will make 50%”. I was hooked. That was a good payday for them, and I learned this particular artist’s work sold well. This artist made a living from doing what they loved the most, and from then on that was my “why”. I sell art so that artists can get paid to do what they love.
The gallery is now in its fifth year. Are there any role models in the industry who have inspired and motivated you to be where you are now?
I receive most of my motivation and inspiration from the artists themselves, as it’s their passion that leads to creation that drives me to support them. Without art where would any of us be? It would be a very different, less bearable world for sure. I am very grateful for my teachers along the way, the gallery owners who I’ve worked for in the past. Without them, I would not have learned the business of art. I asked a lot of questions and learned a lot (and a lot of what not to do). But over the past five years in business, the art world has changed dramatically. So I’ve mostly looked for inspiration from business leaders and role models from outside the art world, which seems to be somewhat lacking in innovation when it comes to dealing with shifting business models. I’ve never been comfortable with the lack of transparency and “coldness” of the white box gallery model. I have also witnessed and experienced the lack of support of women in the arts. So, my inspirations have come from women in business who are also creatives but not necessarily from the art world proper.
One of my recent inspirations is Mary Portas and her book Work Like a Woman. The white male dominance of the fashion world she describes reminded me of the hurdles that women who work in the art world face. It seems that in creative industries, there would be more, not less, support of women and their invaluable intuition at work, but that’s not how it is. It’s still mostly run by men who care more about their bottom lines than people. Mary has powered through, broken down the systems that weren’t working and rebuilt her business as a leader who gives back, encourages working from the female seat of intuition and supports other women in business to do the same. I have a long way to go in developing this business, but it’s leaders like Mary that I look to when I need a boost of confidence and encouragement.
How would you describe the gallery’s program?
We represent a diverse, international roster of emerging and mid-career contemporary artists, including Anne Austin Pearce (USA), Al Luke (South Africa), David Stenbeck aka@dovneon (Sweden), Emily Weiskopf (USA), Faatimah Mohamed-Luke (South Africa), Frida Harari Sitton (Mexico), Michelle Rogers (Ireland), Timothy P. Wilson (USA) and Virginia Wagner (USA). Our artists & exhibitions have been featured in Wallpaper*, Cultured Magazine, VICE – The Creators Project, The Huffington Post, Glamour and Hi-Fructose Magazine, among other publications.
Our expertise and global reach make collecting contemporary art easy, but our services reach well beyond this, including sourcing and consigning artwork from the secondary market, trade accounts for international art advisors and interior designers for residential, corporate, hospitality, film & tv set design, public art & commercial projects, custom framing and representing and connecting artists with global brands for mid-large scale licensing and commission projects….
You can read the full interview on Occhi Magazine’s official website.
Jenn Singer Photographed by Peter Roessler
One thought on “In Conversation with Gallerist Jenn Singer”
After all this time of quarantine/ lockdown, another compelling article/ blog Mr Noel