We had the good fortune of connecting with Elise Boivin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elise, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
My company, ArtlyOwl, is an online art marketplace and advisory business that connects local artists and collectors. We feature a curated collection of original artwork and limited edition art prints from independent artists in LA, San Francisco, New York and Chicago.
One thing art industry “outsiders” are often unaware of is that you don’t have to be an art aficionado to bring art into your space. Many of us appreciate art but believe that owning art is out of reach. I felt the same before my first art purchase (a piece by Salvadoran artist Frida Larios). I was hooked from the moment I saw it, though, and, to this day, it reminds me of the evening I found it.
Most of our clients are newer buyers who worry about not knowing exactly what they want or feel that they don’t know how to express their preferences. The truth is, most peoples’ preferences, including art professionals’, evolve over time. Developing your art taste usually involves viewing a lot of art and having fun in the process. You’ll realize that you don’t need a special vocabulary to chat with artists and learn about their work. The most important factors are openness and confidence. Attend local art events, chat with artists, check out artwork on ArtlyOwl and other online sites. When you find a piece that you like and fits your budget, trust your gut. The point isn’t to pick out other peoples’ favorite art, it’s to find art that you enjoy.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
ArtlyOwl’s focus is on increasing access to art (essentially “democratizing” art). Before I founded my company, I discovered art serendipitously, often stumbling upon pieces while traveling, and I struggled to find ways to buy from local artists. I wanted to help others (and myself!) more easily find locally crafted art that has meaning to them.
I initially hesitated to launch ArtlyOwl, since the art market is super crowded, but I didn’t see anything like it: a diverse but quality-curated marketplace focused on local artists. I also saw an opportunity to make art buying more personal by bridging the gap between online and in-person art viewing. We offer free studio visits so collectors feel more confident in their selections and connected to their community.
Keeping our artists, design partners, and clients happy is our number one objective. It has a compounding effect on our business and is key to our success. As an artist-first organization, we have developed a sustainable business model based on below-average commission rates and flexible terms. This has enabled us to build a strong network of artists and artwork to showcase, which is appreciated by our individual collectors and our design partners.
ArtlyOwl is a beginning for me. I enjoy building companies and want to continue to create opportunities for people to enrich their lives. It’s a broad goal but we’re off to a great start with ArtlyOwl. We have brought amazing art out of the studio and into homes, offices and businesses. We’ve introduced community members to their local art scene. We’ve also helped designers complete their projects with fine art that connects their clients to the arts community. I’m proud of the personal impact we’ve had to date and am excited to continue to keep this focus in mind in the future.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
LA has so much to offer year-round but art open studios events come only twice per year. I would plan a visit around the April Brewery Arts Complex “Art Walk,” which also coincides with the complex’s 40th anniversary this year. With more than 100 local artists participating (including many ArtlyOwl artists!), it’s a great way to tap into LA’s art scene and get a sneak peek into their daily lives and work. I would suggest fueling up with a protein-packed smoothie in the Arts District (Cafe Gratitude is always a great option) before heading to the Brewery for studio visits. To mix things up, it would be fun to grab a quick lunch at the Brewery’s on-site restaurant then spend the rest of the afternoon checking out the latest Projects at non-profit art space The Mistake Room. I would start day two of the trip with a leisurely brunch downtown at Poppy + Rose before heading back to the Brewery to hit the studios you didn’t make it to. As much as I love art, I also appreciate balance. I’d cap off the trip with a sunset hike at Elysian Park.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I believe in always seeking out the support you need, especially as a solo founder. A few years before I founded ArtlyOwl, I met with a close friend who is an Executive Coach, Eleni Pallas of “Leaders for Good,” to chat about the next steps in my career. In addition to providing invaluable strategic advice, Eleni introduced me to Melissa Maher, a Mindfulness Coach. Melissa helped me learn about myself and what I wanted out of life at a deeper level. My work with both of them helped me clarify my goals and set me on the path to launch ArtlyOwl. I would like to dedicate this shoutout to Eleni, Melissa and the many other supportive friends and founders who have provided advice and perspective as I have grown my company.
Other: Featured Artists/Artwork: fnnch, Martin Venezky, Jennifer Berkowitz, Jun Yang, Clovis Blackwell
Cameron Cressman Photography