Curating art with Gallery Cuevas Tilleard – AWNY Startup Stories chats with Caroline Tilleard

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Tell us about you, what made you move to the USA and what inspired you to start the business?

I moved to New York to get my Masters in Art History. Studying here lead to me work at MoMA, for an art advisor, and for an Upper East Side blue-chip gallery.

I saw the art world from many sides. This helped me discover what I really loved was working with artists of my generation – artists who were dealing with issues I was deeply familiar with. This love was shared by my work colleague Anna Maria Cuevas and together we started moonlighting – visiting studios and curating pop-up shows of emerging artists.

This grew into a full time gallery program in 2015, and now we are adding an artist residency program to the mix.

What has been your ‘Ah Ha’ / ‘I’ve made it in the USA moment’

I was thrilled when our exhibition of work by artist Alex Ebstein was reviewed in The New York Times.

Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?

Because art is such a visual medium, instagram is a powerful tool for us. It’s becoming increasingly common for people to buy work they saw an image of on our account.

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Do you have any mentors, and how have people been with sharing information and their networks?

I’ve recently been involved in helping to establish Art/Forward a collective of professional women in the arts focused on building relationships all to foster and advance career growth. It’s been great to be part of a group that is actively looking to share their knowledge and networks.

Art Galleries seem to be a seasonal business? What are the challenges associated with seasonality and do you have any coping strategies?

There are definite seasons to the art market. It’s busy in the spring and fall, and quietens down over the summer especially.

We cope with this by focusing our programming on the busy times – making sure we have stellar shows scheduled for March, May, September and November when a lot of collectors come to town for art fairs and auctions.

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What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business? 

What worked for us was to start slowly. Cuevas Tilleard came about through a lot of weekend work; we kept our day jobs for a long time, which helped to fund the gallery as we established our reputation. While exhausting, this model certainly lowered the risk of starting a business.

Other than yourself, what piece of Australia have you put into your business.

Anna Maria and I have worked hard to create a gallery that is friendly and open. Unlike a lot of Chelsea or Upper East Side galleries, we didn’t want coming to shows at Cuevas Tilleard to be intimidating, or for anyone to feel ignored. This easy going attitude to me is as Australian as it gets.

What’s next for your business?

We are currently moving gallery spaces in New York – though sticking with our Lower Lower East Side/Chinatown neighborhood.

In late February early March we are participating in the SPRING/BREAK art fair. It’s a curated week-long selling exhibition that features contemporary art. This year it will be held at 4 Times Square, occupying some of the old Vanity Fair offices.

Later in March/April our first artist residency program begins. We are bringing New York artists to Lamu island in Kenya (where I split my time) to live and work. We’ll then be showing their work back in New York and at international art fairs.

Do you have an offer or promo code you would like to share with the AWNY community?

We are participating in the upcoming SPRING/BREAK art fair in New York. The fair runs February 28 – March 6. If anyone would like tickets please write to us at info@cuevastilleard.com

Follow Cuevas Tilleard on Social Media:

Instagram: @cuevastilleard

Facebook: Cuevas Tilleard Projects

Web: www.cuevastilleard.com where you can sign up to our emails which let you know about opening receptions, art fairs, and fun.

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