Katie Henry | Interview
She's eccentric, she's smart and she knows her craft back to front. She's a driven girl boss who strives to achieve all of her personal and professional goals in life, while attaining a beautiful glow both inside and out. She's unstoppable when it comes to adorning walls in beauty, she's a massive believer that art is good for business, she's on a mission to educate, enrich, inspire and empower, she's a total 'Glow-Getter', and we're so proud and very grateful that she's our Director. For those of you who don't know Katie, or perhaps just a little bit - we hope you enjoy getting to know her better with this interview!
- Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your passion for art?
- I think I just new from school that I was going to work in a gallery or do something arty. Art is what I was best at in School, and I had the most inspirational teacher who explained the real world of art, and it felt like an achievable path for a 16 year old. By the time it came to university applications it was just obvious that it was going to be art school.
- What does it take to make a great dealer?
- Being a good art dealer is a bit like being a good show runner in TV terms. You use your left and right brain in equal amounts, on the one hand looking at the numbers, logistics, operations, and on the other being creative enough to find new talent, curate shows, do marketing and press releases plus social media. There’s a lot of left brain right brain! And of course you have to be a great alchemist, because a lot of the time you bring together clients and artists in one room, so you have to choose the right people for the right show, bring artists together for collaborations (with brands or institutions), and through it all you’re trying to make creative gold!
- What do you find exciting about your work?
- Well firstly it’s the transformation. It’s a skill to envision a space and see it transformed in your head, and it takes a lot of convincing with some clients. Buy boy when they put that art up the space is amazingly different - the energy changes, people smile (or scowl), the space feels different and that’s magic... You can’t bottle it! Secondly, I love the fact that my job is never the same two weeks together. I love to get out of the office, i just couldn’t be stuck behind a desk all the time, it would drive me potty!
- How important is nurturing that personal relationship with the artists you work with?
- Incredibly important. Each artist is like an extended member of the family. You might not see them in person for a really long time, but they’re always in the back of your mind. So it’s important to let them know you’re thinking of them every so often, through newsletters and social media etc. There are some artists who prove really popular with the clients (there’s an 80/20 split like this in almost any business with products and services), so I speak to those artists a lot, and I get to know their inns and outs more than others, but I’m a compassionate person, so if I’m asking an artist for something I want to be able to also ask “how’s the family? Sorry to hear about your mum or how did choosing schools go?”...
- Favorite cultural pursuit outside of the art world?
- Cooking! I have synesthesia, which means I think in colours, but to some extent I can also taste colour and I get really inspired by the flavour of paintings - they inspire what I cook. I don’t like to boast but I am a really good cook. I’m also a burgeoning writer and historian - they both bring me great joy.
- Hard question... Favorite artists ever and why?
- It’s pretty much the entire Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, but mostly Lawrence Alma Tadema and John Everett Millais. They’re paintings are just dreamy, and I’m a total history buff, so I like the context of their paintings, and the fact that so many are based on mythology. I also LOVE Camilla Walala, Rob and Nick Carter, Nikki de St Phalle and Jacolby Satterwhite!
- What type of art makes you cringe?
- Animals staring enigmatically into the middle distance. I can think of nothing worse than an oil painting of a glossy eyed buffalo staring at me from a green tinged canvas. Yuck!
- What do you want to tell a young person considering this business?
- I think a lot of young people think there’s an easy (if expensive) route into this world through courses like Christies Education (who place a lot of alumni into blue chip galleries), but of course that’s inaccessible to a lot fo people. So I’d say if you’ve got the guts, just go for it and do it yourself. Forge your own path, be a maverick, be a non-conformist, and be prepared to work 5 - 9 rather than 9 - 5.
- What piece of your personal collection would you like to be remembered for?
- Well I haven’t bought it all yet, but I want to be a massive collector of the weird and wonderful. I love people like Grayson Perry (and his art) and James Ostrer. If it’s slightly weird and makes you think of an alternative reality then I’ll probably love it. I want my collection of art to feel like David Bowie - beautiful mysterious, with a lot of show and some alternative personality.
- If you could be born in another period of history, when would it be?
- The Georgian Era for sure. I want to try the big wigs and the big dresses - they appeal to my eccentric nature. Plus it’s modern enough that women have some rights, medicine is reasonably advanced, and I wouldn't be burnt at the steak for being an educated, literate and numerate women who knows about germs!
- What is a day in the life of Katie Henry like?
- Every day is different, but there are some constants: I take my little boy to nursery, I go home and check my emails before breakfast. A lot of my day is about catching up with clients who i’ve already sent proposals too, and creating proposals for new clients, or clients on a rotation subscription. There’s some networking, on and off line, and I always check in with my social media manager. Sometimes I’m travelling for work, or doing an installation (which i’m always present for), there are logistics to work out, invoices to send, tasks to set for the team etc. Then I pick up my little boy from nursery and switch off from work - that last part is really important.