Donna, what is your role at Artworld Fine Art?
I am the gallery director and have owned the business for about 19 years.
Did you start with Artworld Fine Art initially or was it something else?
I began my career in the Arts earning a degree in Fashion Design through the International Academy of Design in Toronto.After working in the industry for 10 years I applied my business and design skills to the field of visual art becoming the Gallery Director of Artworld Fine Art in 1995.
And how did the Artworld Fine Art Start?
Artworld Fine Art started in Sherway Gardens about 19 years ago and we operated until October of last year, 2013. We’ve always wanted to expand and turn the Gallery into more of an Art Hub, rather than just a typical art gallery. The art and custom framing will always be our main source of business but we also wanted to embrace other forms of art which includes music, dance, and sculpture. We are renting the gallery as a venue as well. We are also embracing literary arts with “Spoken Word Wednesday” which takes place on the second Wednesday of every month from 7-8:30PM. Its a free event and anyone can perform a poem, a rant a ballad and book reading. Many are published writers – others are reading for only the first time. We welcome everyone. This is our way of giving back to the community, inviting people over to enjoy the art and talk to other people who are also interested in art.
Donna Child, Director of Artworld Fine Art
Do you also have artists coming in?
I represent over 30 painter so yes we have a constant flow of artists coming through the gallery. Each month we host an exhibit that focuses on one artists work or a group of painters. On the exhibit opening night the artists are on present and will talk about their art, their future plans and how they got to the point they are at and will also discuss their techniques.
Do you paint yourself?
Nothing that I could actually put on display. I can tell you how its done, just don’t ask me to do it. LOL
A few words about your family, if you don’t mind?
My father is from 400 miles north of Winnipeg, he is of Ukrainian descent and my mother is of Irish descent. I was born and raised in the High Park area of Toronto.
They say, that running and Art Gallery is a perfect job for a woman, but is there any challenges that you come across?
Owning a gallery is a great job for anyone who is passionate about art, whether it is a male or female. Challenges? There are always challenges for anyone in business male or female. Balancing family life and professional life is my biggest challenge. Being a small business owner, requires a great deal of dedication and that does take you away from your personal life. Thankfully, I have an absolutely awesome husband, who is my biggest supporter.
What is your favorite part of running the Gallery?
My favorite part is getting to meet the people that I do. Everyone’s background is so different, so interesting. The reasons that people buy paintings are often very different as well. Sometimes they see a painting that reminds them childhood, or they just see something that just brings personal pleasure. And also being invited into people’s homes and actually see the painting that we've sold hanging in their home. And also seeing my artist achieve personal success and it is different for each of them is also very rewarding.
Artworld Fine Art at 365 Evans Ave, Toronto
One of your big dreams just came true – you moved into a large, wonderful gallery. Is there anything else you are trying to achieve? Any other ambitions?
Many, many ambitions! Obviously they are art related. But, I think our main mission is educating people on Art and getting rid of the stigma “that you have to know art in order to enjoy art”. So many people walk through this door and immediately comment “I don’t know anything about the art”. You don’t need to know about the art, you need to know what you like and this is the most important thing. I think also to get rid of the concept that you “buy art for investment”. I think this is the wrong idea.
There are certainly many paintings that do go up in value, but you must buy it because you love it first.
So, you are trying to help your clients to get something they really love and enjoy rather then something they think might be a good investment?
There are no guarantees that a painting will go up in value – but if you buy a painting and you really love it then you have invested in your personal well being – if it goes up in value that's the bonus.
Do you have any other hobbies outside the art?
Art is my first passion and will always be. But yes, outside of that I do many things. I run, this is my therapy. I love architecture. When we are travelling I am constantly out there looking at architecture of various cities that we travel to. And, of course, the art galleries. Also, I love to cook and being on our boat in the summer. But I don’t have enough time to do those things sometimes.
Do you like to travel and what parts of the world would you like to see?
Oh, gosh, I've traveled quite a bit. I don’t think there is a place in the world that I could call my favourite – haven’t found it yet – each city or country is so unique. I try to visit as many different areas of the world as I possibly can. We were in Belgium last year, this year we will be in Czech Republic. We've been to Spain, Switzerland, Holland, Central America, France, Italy through the United States.
Fine Art of the Gallery
Could you share a little bit on how young artists could get to meet you, get exhibits in your gallery?
I think our Gallery is quite unusual this way – we receive portfolios from everyone, no matter what level of experience they have and this is done on my web-site. In terms of the artist being accepted to the gallery, it's a process. It is definitely challenging for young artists, but it can be done. I know that one thing that is not taught enough in the art schools is how to promote yourself. So often, young artists walk through the door and they want to put their work into a gallery immediately, when they’ve never even visited the gallery before. They don’t know if their work is suitable for our space, they’ve no portfolio ready, no business cards, no web-site. I think the first challenge that a young artist must overcome is to come up with a marketing plan, decide how you are going to sell your work and make sure that you are going into a gallery that is going to be suitable for what you are painting.
Do you help them? Do you have specific people who can help with marketing?
Yes, I certainly do. Actually this week on March 6 we will be hosting a free night, where young students can come out and talk to one of our gallery artists, Mark Thurman who is very well established, has worked in a lot of fields of the art business and made his career in art, not only as a painter, but as a teacher, illustrator, and writer. So, there is a lot of different avenues for artists . Many young artists think they can become famous just painting. It is possible, challenging but possible, but they need to know that they have something else they can fall back on until they can to the point where they can do art full time and survive doing it.
On display straight ahead – art by Rick Taylor
Do you normally go out to find new artists or do they come to you?
Both. A lot of artists walk through the door and quite often we will see an artist's work and we will source them in.
What is success for you?
Being happy and being passionate about what I do. I think success is being able to work with people that you enjoy working with and I am very luck to have such an incredible group working with me – the are my extended family. Success is also being able to give back to the community, and in order to do that there is a degree of financial success that is required as well.
Through your 19 years in business, did you ever think that you are not doing the right thing and maybe you should be doing something else?
Probably. I think everybody goes through that. But for me, I think I always jumped back pretty quick and say: “No, I can’t possibly do something else” I am very passionate about what I do and can’t imagine doing anything else.
Some of the artists in your gallery come and go and some stay. What would be the reason? Are those who stay selling better than others?
Yes and no. We have artists that do very well for us and have for many many years, and of course they will remain with us. Several have been with the gallery from day one, for example Stephen Gillberry, the abstract painter. But then some artists go on to do other things, some become exclusive to other galleries. Many have tremendous success with other galleries, one of the gallery artists who launched her career in Canada with us quite some time ago went to become exclusive with gallery in the United States, her prices have gone up probably 4 times compared to what we were selling them for. So it totally made sense that she decided to go with that gallery.
I’ve seen Yana Movchan here before and don’t see her here now?
Yes, this is the artist I was talking about. I always told her that because of her incredible talent that one day a she would go one to exhibit with a high end European or American Art Gallery and do very very well. And this is exactly what happened to her, she is having a phenomenal career.
How about Katerina Mertikas? I see her art everywhere…
She is very popular, she’s done really well for us. She will actually be exhibiting in the next month in France, she is a part of the Canadian delegation, will be representing Canada in Paris.
Art by Katerina Mertikas
Is there any artist that you would really like to get for your gallery? Or genre?
I think we carry a very diverse selection of works in the gallery, so we have most of the genres covered. I have had the opportunity to sell the paintings by some very well established international painters. I’ve actually just posted on my Face Book page today: many years ago we sold two Andy Warhol pieces and it was just in the last month that Andy Warhol has become one of the top three bestselling auction artists of all times. When I think of those earlier Warhol pieces, I think, I should have kept them.
Don’t you feel that when artists become so popular and they started with you, this is part of your success as well?
I would like to think that I gave them a start – maybe the opportunity for exposure. I did not discover Andy Warhol, but I think just having a chance to sell art by those artists in the gallery is quite an accomplishment.
Sculpture at the Gallery
When you have some events or perhaps some new pieces of art coming to your gallery, how do you let the public know?
Through our web, and definitely our e-mail list.
So, the next one is coming on March 6?
Yes. This is the free event led by one of the gallery artists Mark Thurman, he is also a teacher at Sheridan College, and he teaches figurative drawing to the animation students. He will be talking about different art avenues that are available to young students in art.
Thankfully this new place allows you to hold all this events.
Yes, the gallery is a beautiful 7200 square foot space.
Do you have a professional message, Donna?
Yes, support Canadian art! All forms of it, not just visual, but also music, dance, we have so much talent in this country, incredible. And we need to support our home grown talent.
Donna with friends and supporters