Finding great affordable art for the home is tricky, but A little bit of Art (ALBOA) may just make it that bit easier. Showcasing the talents of a diverse range of artists, illustrators and printmakers, ALBOA is the brainchild of former Guardian art department manager, Gina Cross. We spoke to Gina to find out what inspires her:
I originally trained in print design and decoration, and then worked for 10 years at the Guardian newspaper as the art department manager, commissioning illustration across the paper and dealing with a wide variety of illustrators on a daily basis. I had been doing a curating course at St Martin's and put together a couple of successful shows and really wanted to do more.
I rather randomly decided to do a stand at a local event, The Lambeth Country Show, in July 2007 just for a bit of fun really and to put together a collection of prints to sell. I then had a stand at the East London Design Show Christmas 2007 and again in 2008 while continuing my day job. I realised that this is what I really wanted to do, but couldn't do it properly and have a full-time job. The opportunity came to take voluntary redundancy in the summer of 2009 and so I decided to go for it.
The site specialises in selling 'affordable printed artworks'. Was that something you had previously found difficult to find?
When I first had the idea for ALBOA it was more in response to the fact that I worked with a lot of professional illustrators who were a bit frustrated with just doing commercial work and wanted an outlet to make personal work. By their nature, prints are more affordable as they are very rarely original pieces of work, but when I started it, there wasn't really much printed artwork around apart from at IKEA and Habitat.
My main aim is to provide high quality printed artwork at affordable prices. This is why I specialise in dealing with limited edition prints and generally avoid mass-produced images. My main interest is in encouraging the artists that I work with to continue to create beautiful work in low editions so that buyers feel they have something on their walls that not everyone else will have.
The prices range from between £20 for an open edition digital print, up to around £400-£500 depending on the size, edition numbers, technique and who has created it.
How do you find the artists whose work you feature?
A lot of the artists and illustrators I have known professionally for some time, although there have been people that I have met along the way who have approached me, or I see work that I like at shows. I don't have a set selection process, it's more of a gut feeling - but it's usually a personal feeling rather than a purely commercial one - I try not to just follow the zeitgeist and so I really trust my ability to select work that fits well together with other pieces I show. I do love the fact that the selections I make are appreciated and purchased and it's not always the obvious ones that sell.
Do you have any current favourites among the pieces on the site?
I would say that my current favourite pieces are The Enchanted Forest by Anja Sheridan, mainly because it's so beautifully printed and I also really love Anna Marrow's large screenprints as well as Joe Magee's work. There are actually quite a few more now I come to think of it - I don't have one favourite, I love them all!
What are your customers looking for at the moment when buying art for their home?
I would say that they are looking for something that they enjoy looking at, that they connect with and that complements their personal taste. But it's difficult to make general statements about something as personal as art buying. Colour, size and content is also important as you can see their minds working about how it will fit in a particular space they have in mind.
Is it tempting sometimes to buy the art yourself rather than sell it?
Sometimes! But I'm a classic example - a bit like a builder whose house is never finished - I hardly have any art on my walls as there's always so much choice, or I need to re-use the frame for a show. Most of the work we have at home are prints that I have given to my partner, as that is a final decision!
www.alboart.co.uk, Tel: Gina Cross +44 (0) 7950 415422