The 2021 AGH Art Sale launched a few short weeks ago, continuing online on our new eCommerce website until May 31. A member of the Art Sale team since 2018, Jasmine Lazdins is one of the Gallery’s two Art Sales + Services Consultants, a passionate advocate for regional artists, and an art collector herself.
I sat down with Jasmine to discuss the Art Sale’s storied communal impact, its current successes online, and her goals for the future of the program.
Connor: To start off, tell us a little bit about the Art Sales + Services program – how did it get here and what currently drives it forward?
Jasmine: The Art Sales + Services program has evolved a lot throughout its decades-long existence! It started as an art rental program early in the conception of the AGH, originally with the goal to raise revenue for Gallery acquisitions, then later to fund the building of new Gallery spaces. For most of its history, the program ran successfully by the efforts of an incredibly team of volunteers.
The current version is a rental and sales program representing local and regional artists, working with those artists to place their work in the collections of residential and corporate collectors, as well as aiming to raise their visibility within the community through partnerships and special projects. The revenue goal is still there for the Gallery as well, of course, as the program assists in the funding of education and public programming here at the AGH.
Connor: Joining the team in preparation for the last in-person Art Sale back in 2019, how has the event grown throughout your time here, particularly with the necessary shift online?
Jasmine: The live, in-person event is such a fantastic, celebratory moment affording the artists and the community the opportunity to see a lot of art and artists in person. It’s quite a unique event in Hamilton and the surrounding areas, and we are very proud of its ability to generate revenue for local artists, putting money back into the local artist economy.
The pandemic has of course had a wide range of global implications and challenges, but we are very lucky to work with such a flexible group of artists and collectors, finding a silver lining in which we have discovered how we can still best help clients enjoy the artwork from their homes, without wavering on our goals of supporting artists, who then can continue creating more work.
Our new eCommerce website allows more time and interaction with each artwork than ever, as clients can browse and purchase artwork outside of regular Gallery hours – many of them making purchases or inquiring about works well past midnight, perhaps their only quiet moment throughout their day.
Connor: In an event so community-focused, do you have a particular moment to share that you feel best represents the program and its goals?
Jasmine: One of my all-time favourite community projects was a collaboration with Jerrett Young and Jason Cassis of Equal Parts Hospitality back in 2019, when their team completely transformed the Diplomat restaurant, hanging artworks from that year’s collection, designing an incredible menu inspired by the works themselves, and even incorporating the art into the menu design. It was so fun and fulfilling to work with their team in this new format and represent the Art Sale program and the artists we are fortunate enough to exhibit. Looking back now, that sense of community, while sorely missed in-person, still persists online.
Connor: What would be your advice to potential clients or collectors interested in being part of this community or purchasing their first work?
Jasmine: Buy what you love! That advice may sound derivative at first, but it really is true – the best advice I can give potential collectors is to spend a few moments looking at an image, and see if it holds your attention either emotionally or visually. If the work feels impactful for you to spend time with, then buy it. That’s really the only criteria that matters. Don’t worry about value appreciation or if the work matches your home perfectly – our experienced collectors know that their collection moves and grows with them. Focus on the pieces that really move you.
Connor: On the flipside, what would be your advice to artists either seeking representation by a sales program or looking to submit their work to events like the Art Sale?
Jasmine: Well, it’s worth noting that we are currently working on building out the submissions page on our website in order to have an in-depth resource for pricing your work, building your portfolio, and providing other useful external references and resources. Keep an eye on that page in the coming weeks as it becomes a more robust tool!
My next piece of advice is to know your market. You want to create a shortlist of Galleries that sell artworks either formally or thematically similar to the work you make, but you also want to ensure your work is distinct from the artists they represent. Once you have that shortlist, build your portfolio and submit work to them. Be prepared for rejection, as that’s always part of the process. As you grow, you will learn how to work the feedback you receive into your creative process. You can also always ask for feedback or suggestions for other Galleries, as the rejection itself is not at all a negation of your worth as an artist.
Finally, work your network! If you went to school with someone, exhibited with someone, or met someone through a mutual connection, reach out! Artists, dealers, and Galleries are so often the difference makers for artist introductions.
Connor: To finish up, what are your hopes for the future of the program?
Jasmine: I would love to see the program evolve in our offerings to support emerging artists. Earlier this year, we launched a workshop to give emerging artists a sense of what Gallerists are considering when reviewing portfolio submissions to commercial programs. We found the program to be really successful and the feedback we got from the artists themselves was very helpful as well. A few of the participant artists even ended up in this year’s Art Sale! That’s a really promising step in our efforts to better offer resources to these emerging artists. This is such an important program for offering content that’s meaningful and helpful to our local artist community.
Please note that at the time of this publication, the AGH is temporarily closed. We continue to follow the advice and directives of the local public health officials, the provincial government, and our Board of Directors, so stay tuned to our Plan Your Visit and COVID-19 Guidelines page for updates. We hope our visitors remain connected to our programs and exhibitions through AGH at Home and Shop at AGH Online.