Ekaterina Plastinina, Green Art Gallery 2018-02-26
Art Of Doing Business In The Art Industry

International students and expats who come to study and live in Moscow are confused why do Russian students want to go abroad. For them, Moscow is a place where students may realize themselves in terms of business whereas in the UK the market is divided between natives. This is quite an interesting question to think about. My stance is somewhat neutral in this question, as the experience of studying in the UK and the experience of working in the UK are completely distinct. Studying abroad makes a person stronger and more open-minded, you meet a lot of people from different cultures and share your experiences. In terms of networking it is a brilliant opportunity to build unique connections, which will help you a lot in the career. Working abroad, however, is more complicated, but if a person feels that it is exactly what he or she wants - I would always say to go and try. It does require getting out of one’s “comfort zone”, by having to adapt to local culture and local ways of doing business. This experience is absolutely priceless.

Having all this in mind I applied for a university in London and got accepted. Art has always been my area of interest and I studied it in my spare time. At Sotheby’s Institute of Art, one had to concentrate almost solely on art and study it by visiting museums and spending time in libraries. The approach was absolutely different from that at the HSE – students spent more time studying themselves and professors only guided them and gave advice here and there. As I mentioned before, the MA in Art Business was a perfect opportunity to develop my knowledge and apply it to a different area.

Having possessed an economic and art background it just felt so right to launch my own business. There is no generic formula to successfully starting a business, as each country has different policies regarding laws, taxes and immigration processes. It is easier to start a business in some countries than in the others. A successful start requires only smart expenditure, consideration of one’s geographical location based on your market sector, and the willingness to adapt to local customs and regulations.

The sure way to miss success is to miss the opportunity – to delay making your dream a reality. This is why, when the idea for our business came to our minds, we started to bring it to life immediately. My friend and I brainstormed and analyzed opportunities and constraints till we began to have a very clear vision of what we want to do and how we want to do it. Forming a work environment is also a very crucial and individual-specific matter, whether you’re starting your venture alone or with the help of business partners.

My business partner is an interior designer. We have a growing team of Alma Agents in cities across the world, like Moscow, London, Dubai, Muscat and Milan. We plan to develop our concept into a mixed concept venture in the future and also collaborate with a lot of freelance professionals through different projects. We have known each other for a very long time, and share a lot of interests. We had brainstormed a lot in the past on many subjects, and gradually came to a common point that would connect both our professional specialties – art and interiors. With a lot of hard work and intuition we managed to attain our goals and are planning to accomplish many different projects in diverse markets.

Some russians are assured that moving abroad makes sense only after a successful business in their motherland. This is true, however it’s not a recipe. My partner and I have only had a chance to get professional experience in a few independent companies in Moscow. Most of our expertise actually comes from our life abroad, in times after our having moved from Russia. 

Green Art Gallery is an Art and Interior Design Consultancy. Our profits mainly come from sales and interior design projects. We also offer a wide range of services not only to our clients, but also to artists. At the moment, we are doing a couple of interior projects here in Dubai and in Europe, curating artists, helping them develop their portfolios for upcoming exhibitions and preparing an African Tribal Art Collection for a private client.

It appeared that the art in general is developed abroad and brought to the Russian market. Russia has an art market, but it operates mostly in West Europe - Russians buy and sell abroad. They have become serious players and build their collections mostly in there and Western artists are coming to Russia to be exhibited.

We ourselves currently represent and exhibit a number of artists from Russia and Azerbaijan, some residing outside of their home countries. We have an eye for their talents and believe that they have a brilliant career ahead of them. We plan to exhibit them in worldwide art fairs and share their strive to enter new markets as USA, Asia and Latin America.

There is no doubt that going into the art business you have to be well equipped with understanding diverse markets, knowing a lot of art and design professionals, and think on your feet when it comes to sales. Despite that, there are always niche markets that need to be filled and which bring opportunities to the table.  It is known that for Europeans and Americans, for instance, art was and still is a good way to invest your money. We try to deal with a diverse range of clients and break the stereotype of riskiness associated with art by sharing the importance of appreciating the beauty in contemporary art and believing in future talent. 

It sometimes feels impossible to combine art business in terms of different and even opposite cultural peculiarities: vis-à-vis Moscow - London – Dubai. We try to have an individualized approach to each client. Art can be a very personal experience and there is no greater joy than knowing that your artists are appreciated and celebrated in given spaces and interiors. Art is somewhat the soul of an interior that brings character and individuality to life. 

For dealing effectively with cultural differences, we respect our client’s traditions and adjust our work to make it suitable to different parts of the world. For instance, we have separate catalogues for our European and Middle Eastern clients. Frequent traveling also keeps us aware of new cultures that we might encounter in business in the future. The biggest secret is to do what you love and to have faith in what and with whom you are doing business. I am lucky to have a brilliant business partner. Even though we have disagreements, we always find the perfect solution for every project. As in every business, even in the art business, one must be a good negotiator and salesperson. One requires not only expertise in art, but also knowledge and understanding of trends and open-mindedness. Visit as many art fairs and exhibitions as possible. Always look for fresh and unusual ideas, try to foresee trends, and trust your instinct.