CGN Art Dealer Q & A: Sara Dulkin of Chicago Truborn
During this time of Covid-19 social distancing, we figured this would be as good of a time as any to reach out to gallerists and ask them a few questions about their thoughts on the current times, best business practice, and career history. If you have followed CGN for a while then this will come to you as a follow up from our Q&A series from 2017. We hope you enjoy!
Number of years in business: 7
How did you begin your career?
My career was totally self started. I had zero gallery experience and knew very little of the professional art world. My only experience at that point was having felt unwelcome and unable to afford anything in the galleries I had visited in NYC, LA, Miami etc.
An art opening wasn't something I thought I would ever be invited to, let alone produce.
What inspired you to open a gallery?
I became increasingly interested in what I saw on the streets, I found myself stopping to watch murals being painted. Day by day I was making connections with the artists painting in public and getting to know them on a first name basis. Naturally, I started asking them how/where I could buy their work. Their answer was always the same... "Umm, Nowhere really". I sensed that we were on the brink of a big change.
The way people my age appreciate art, the way we discover art, the possibility of us affording art and, of course, the glaring omission of this type of artwork in galleries. I felt the desire to provide a legitimate and respected platform for the artists deemed "street" or "graffiti" that perhaps wouldn't be found in a "traditional gallery". I felt connected to the art I saw on the streets, which in turn connected me to the city, the neighborhood, the artists themselves...The natural progression seemed to be how to take a piece of that feeling home, inside. It was all so simple yet it hadn't been done.
Is there a unifying element in your program or artist representation?
We absolutely are characterized by showcasing artwork from "street/graffiti" artists in a non intimidating atmosphere. Where, not only can you ask questions and take pictures but, you can actually afford the art! With price points starting at $20 - we offer a range of items from prints and pins to originals and everything in between. Our motto is BECOME A COLLECTOR.
How are you connecting with collectors and artists right now? Have you added to or increased your digital outreach?
We pride ourselves on our connection to our collector base. We are very active and accessible on social media @ChicagoTruborn. Our entire collection can be viewed online at shop.chicagotruborn.com and we post multiple pieces daily on instagram and facebook that can be purchased directly from the post!
We have always offered complimentary in store (curb side) pickup and nationwide delivery and will continue offering that during the self distancing quarantine.
Also, we'd like to note that our artists are still hard at work. This is their full time job - this is our full time job - the show must go on. We've received a number of new works that have been listed online as a response to keeping the local economy and small businesses like ours afloat. We are all feverishly trying to support the businesses we know and love. That being said -- we are NOT asking for donations. Rather, if you are willing and able to shop with us, you can take solace knowing you did your part to support this woman owned small business and you get a beautiful painting in return!!
Which exhibitions have you had to postpone or adjust due to COVID-19?
Our next scheduled opening April 4, "All Possible Outcomes" features the amazing Karl Jahnke and we've made the decision to stick to the schedule. While our audience may not be able to attend the opening at the gallery - we will be hanging the show and offering virtual tours. Karl has been painting for months and his work deserves to be seen and honored. All work will be available for purchase online!
What percentage of your sales have previously been online vs in person (including art fairs)?
We maintain a healthy balance of online/instore purchases. We're 50/50 but have always been dedicated to providing a smooth and easy online experience. Our website is very up to date and we will continue to ship out artwork throughout this time.
Do you want to share any silver linings, insights or anything else with readers, collectors and fellow dealers?
If there's one silver lining about #staying home, it's that an entire creative renaissance is on the horizon. Artists are hard at work drawing inspiration from current events. The work coming out of this period will forever stand as a Mile marker in history. We rely on artists century after to century to depict contemporary life... We've already listed and sold work from many artists who have been painting and expressing themselves while in quarantine.