Interview by: Vassilios Nicolaos Vitsilogiannis
Lilia Faulkner was born in Lima, the capital city of Peru. She attended both primary and secondary schooling in Lima and attended Academia Concorde. Lilia then spent time in the New Orleans living with her grandfather working on her English language skills. Then, she attended Carleton University and has been pursuing Art Studies at the Ottawa School of Art. While raising a family and furthering her education she has also taken on the role of organizing art and cultural exhibitions for diplomatic missions located in Ottawa. This has evolved into her representing artists primarily from Latin America and the Caribbean and maintaining her own Art Gallery. She has also recently organized exhibitions in conjunction with other Galleries in countries outside of Canada. She hopes to organize exhibitions in Greece and UAE.
Why did you open the gallery?
Initially, I was requested by a number of Latin American Embassies in Ottawa to work at organizing art exhibitions for artists from their respective countries. These artists that the countries wished to exhibit then requested that I represent them for a duration longer than a single exhibition, which I was pleased to do. Shipping of works was often at best an inconvenience and many of the works ended up being retained by me in Canada. A gallery was the next logical evolution in this process.
Tell us about Terra Arte gallery and what sort of work do you represent?
Terra Arte was established to assist Diplomatic missions in the presentation of their countries artist’s works. It has grown to represent a number of artists that which to extend the relationships that occurred as a result of these exhibitions. Terra Art has continued to assist the Embassies and at the same time represents artists, primarily from the Latin American and Caribbean regions.
Traditionally artists have been told to approach the galleries with informational packets and portfolios but of course, the Internet has changed that. How do you find most of your artists that you present?
As per my first answer initially, introductions were often through the Embassies that wished to promote the art and culture of their countries. Once relationships were established, artists, who have their own networks, introduced artists from their sphere of activity to me.
In collaboration with embassies or other galleries is it easy for you as the owner to cater the best exhibits?
An exhibition is never easy to organize and could be best described as an effort by many people that have a common objective. The embassies and their staff all want the exhibition to be successful. The artists share this goal as do the groups who have the facilities. The complexity is found in bringing all these people and assets together in a timely manner to put the best exhibition possible forward.
What is the biggest mistake you see emerging artist make when approaching you? Is there anything in particular that screams “don’t take me!”?
Primarily, it is the artist’s work that determines the desirability of providing representation. Obviously, if the artist wishes to be represented and works at facilitating the relationship it is favourable but it is a two-way street as well and it is incumbent on the representative to welcome the artist and ensure he or she obtains excellent coverage and marketing.
What makes an artist attractive to your gallery?
Again a simple question, but one veiled in complexity. A simple answer would be whether I greatly appreciate the individual’s work. In order to represent the artist’s work I must be enthusiastic about that work. If I find the works attractive then there are a multitude of other factors that come in to play that may affect whether we can work together well.
How many pieces of art should an artist have to exhibit his work in your gallery?
It is not just the works of art that are being exhibited. Often it is the artist himself that viewers are trying to approach through his work. The more works, obviously the better and works over a period of time greatly assist in telling the artists story. At a bare minimum, I would suggest that three works would be a good start.
What should an artist expect from a gallery, marketing, and sales wise? And what does a gallery expect from an artist?
The artist can expect to have his work promoted physically at the gallery and at every opportunity that arises. Often themes are established for exhibitions and this has proven to be an excellent way to enhance the artist’s exposure to the public.
If an artist markets himself well what’s the advantage to the artist of having gallery presentation? In other words, what can galleries offer an artist for the commission they extract?
I would probably not use the word “extract”. There is a great deal of work that goes into promoting the artist and encouraging clients to both appreciate and acquire their works. It is not a simple case of hanging a work in gallery space and hoping for the best. That said a physical presence for the work is invaluable in promoting the work. Online publication may enhance the public awareness of the artist but it is having the work in front of a potential client that has proven to be invaluable.
I know a lot of big-name artists with multiple galleries representing them. How many galleries should an artist have?
From the artists perspective, I would guess that the answer might very well be “the more the better”.
What is the “ideal” artist for you?
Once again first and foremost the artist must create works that I and my clients find appealing. One who is pleasant to work with also greatly enhances the entire experience.
What is the “ideal” gallery for an artist and how an artist should like a gallery to be?
So many factors go into what would make the ideal gallery. Location as in most things real estate related is a key factor. Often clientele will seek out a gallery but it is certainly more advantageous to be in a district that is appreciated for a multitude of cultural activities. The gallery itself must, of course, be designed to facilitate the viewing experience and present the artists work in the best light (no pun intended).
Why should a buyer go to a gallery?
As in the case of many of the artists I represent the potential buyer does have other options. One, of course, is to directly fly to the country in which the artist resides and visit his place of work. It must be noted that some artists choose to keep their place of work somewhat private. There is no question that having multiple artists work assembled at one location provides an excellent opportunity for clients to appreciate a number of works.
‘I’ve stayed away from galleries because I don’t have thousands to spend’. Don’t feel intimidated but what is the difference of your gallery?
The artists I represent cover a spectrum of prices. One of my primary objectives is to foster the work of Latin American artists and they can be relatively young or well advanced in their careers so choices do exist and there are many excellent up and coming artists with exceptional skills.
Why a gallery is very expensive since those who pay a visit to a gallery are not well-off?
This may be an inaccurate assumption. Some galleries are no doubt expensive and this may very well be the market they have chosen to exclusively target. My focus has been on the artist and getting their works out for viewing and appreciation. Many have not attained “celebrity status”. That does not mean that one day they will not or more importantly that their work will not be enjoyed.
Can someone go to the artist and get their work for a lower price?
I am sure that is quite possible. I have found however the artists I work with have great integrity and when I have advanced their work to a potential client they have never to my knowledge not recognized our relationship.
What are your plans for the next few years? Are you ready to make known your artists abroad?
I intend to continue growing both the number of artists I represent and increase the frequency of exhibitions. I have already held exhibitions in Puerto Rico and Peru. It would be a great pleasure to take the artists I represent new environments.
Will you come in touch with other galleries abroad to provide them with your artists?
I already have established working relationships with a couple of other galleries in countries and I would certainly like to explore this possibility further.
Does any of your daughters favor your work and want to take over the gallery?
My daughters both enthusiastically support my art-related activities and have been of great assistance, particularly at exhibitions. It is far too early to determine what paths they will choose in life and the current priority for both is post-secondary education.
What would you say to artists who can not find galleries to put their work on display?
There are many other forums for presenting their works. Seasonal trade shows and fairs offer a couple of venues as do regional and urban markets. Municipalities also often offer space for works to be displayed. Online presentation of their works should also be pursued.
How the gallery of the future will be?
I believe the gallery of the future is currently here. Both physical display of the works with excellent online libraries tend to cover most ways of presenting the artist’s works.
Facebook page: Terra Art Website: Terra Art
I want to express my gratitude to Lilia for this interview and being such a great friend all these years. I met Lilia in Canada. We had both recently arrived in Ottawa and registered in the same class at Carleton University. That was it. We became friends right away. Later, I met Dan, her husband now. He is a special person and they deserve each other. They have a great family. My best wishes and love to all of you. Thank You.