We talk to the founder and director of Art Pharmacy, Emilya Colliver, who is helping Australians build art collections without breaking the bank.
What is Art Pharmacy?
Art Pharmacy is a curated online gallery featuring original Australian artworks priced from $80-$2500. We feature the work of 35 hand-selected artists; with over 320 individual works. Our role is to promote artists and sell their artworks to a wider audience.
How did you start out in art?
I studied in London – History of Art & Archaeology at UCL & SOAS with an Honours in Contemporary Asian Art. From there I worked for some really big names in the arts industry; The British Museum, Lisson Gallery (recently Anish Kapoor), Hauster & Wirth, and private art collector James Birch. That taught me about contemporary art from a high-end perspective.
What made you start Art Pharmacy?
After working for a number of big commercial galleries for 11 years I realised I’d never had the opportunity to collect art because so much of it was inaccessible and expensive. After moving back to Australia I started collecting artworks from artists from the school I painted at. Many of my friends were asking where I found these artworks and triggered my attention. I found a gap in the market! Art Pharmacy was born as I decided to put all these fabulous artists online and people began buying and now it’s just snowballing.
Who is Art Pharmacy aimed at?
So many people buy mass-produced printed canvasses for example and I want them to come to Art Pharmacy and buy an original artwork made in Australia (that will probably increase in value over time). My aim for Art Pharmacy is for people of any age, with any budget, to start their own art collection. It is possible to build an amazing collection without breaking the bank.
What is the hardest part of your job?
Learning to understand and manage all of the aspects in a business; from accounting, to being a manager, organising events, managing freelancers (which can really tricky especially overseas) as well as being tech savvy. If you want to learn something about yourself start a business.
What were you main goals when you began Art Pharmacy?
The main goal was to build a website that offers art pieces that won’t break the bank but also support local artists within the community. Another goal though was to create my own happy working environment surrounded by good people who understand and appreciate what I am doing. I have a fantastic team around me and we are all totally passionate about art!
What are your plans for Art Pharmacy in the near future?
We are currently focused on expanding out into gift certificates and weddings. I am also interested in helping new collectors increase their knowledge about contemporary art by providing support and feedback. Recently I have been giving talks at galleries and shows about how to collect art and building a career in art. One day I would love to have my own gallery space or shop front however with a young toddler I am happy to be online and focus on that for the time being. Running a business and being a mother is hard to juggle at times.
What advice do you have for young women beginning their careers in the arts?
Don’t sit around and think, just go out and do! Go to lots of shows and events and make visible in the arts community. For me, joining the Young Ambassadors program at the MCA has opened up wonderful opportunities and fostered relationships in building my career. We just has the senior curator at the MCA, Rachel Kent, open up our last pop up show.
Finally, what advice would you give to an aspiring art collector?
Buy one artwork every year! I believe the greatest collections of art started with one piece. Start by purchasing smaller (affordable) works so you can always support many artists. The three main points I focus on when collecting are: budget, medium and research. Also always buy what you like – don’t feel pressured to follow fashion or fads because even if the artist you buy isn’t in vogue at the time you purchase their work, it doesn’t mean that they won’t be one day. Often artists’ pieces appreciate in value because people collect their work.