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Collective 131’s Founder Cassie Fiorenza on Art Fairs and the Future of Online Art Sales

Collective 131’s Founder Cassie Fiorenza on Art Fairs and the Future of Online Art Sales

New art collector? Look no further than Collective 131, an online gallery founded by Cassandra Fiorenza that exclusively shows work from emerging and mid-career women artists. With art fairs such as SPRING/BREAK Art Show, the Affordable Art Fair, and Superfine! Art Fair under her belt, Fiorenza believes in making art accessible and putting women in the forefront of the industry.

“I had been working in galleries for a few years, and I just really had a desire to create something of my own,” Fiorenza says. “I wanted to focus on women artists because underrepresentation is a big problem in the art world, and in today’s climate, it felt like the right time to try to make an impact.”

From now until September 29th, you can find her artists’ work on the second floor at the Affordable Art Fair NYC, a contemporary art fair that prices work between $100 and $10,000. With the online market playing catch-up to the traditional gallery model, we visit the founder at the opening preview and discussed her perspective about art fairs and the future of online art sales.

Cassie at SPRING/BREAK Art Show. Photo courtesy of Collective 131.

What is Collective 131 and how did you get started?

Collective 131 was founded in 2018 as an online gallery that exclusively shows work from emerging and mid-career women artists. I had been working in galleries for a few years, and I just really had a desire to create something of my own. I wanted to focus on women artists because underrepresentation is a big problem in the art world, and in today’s climate, it felt like the right time to try to make an impact. The first artists I added to the site are good friends of mine. From there, I got referred to others, and I also cold-emailed artists that I admired and thankfully there were interested! 

Affordable Art Fair, Fall 2019. Photo courtesy of Collective 131.

Talk about your artists. What kinds of art do you gravitate towards?

There’s a really good range of different styles on the site. That kind of echoes my own taste. I can be very minimalist in my aesthetic, but I also love really rich depictions of interiors and objects. For now, our focus is on painting and works on paper. All of the artists have a unique voice which is really important, and they come from all different backgrounds and are in different stages in their lives and careers. Some are just starting out, and others have been exhibiting for decades.

Untitled (Orange), Patricia Spergel

How do you see the future of online art sales evolving?

The online market is playing catch-up to the traditional gallery model, but it’s definitely growing. There are the big websites like Artsy and artnet, but even brick-and-mortar galleries are expanding to the online sphere. They either participate on those third-party sites, or are building sales platforms directly on their own websites. People want to be able to buy art online, just like anything else. It’s especially appealing to new collectors and the younger generations. According to a recent trade report, 36% of new art buyers bought art online last year. That number is going to continue to grow. From the gallery standpoint, online makes sense. There’s no rent to pay, and you can show all kinds of work online. I always wanted to make an online gallery – I really believe this is where art sales are headed. 

Collective 131 at SPRING/BREAK Art Show. Photo courtesy of Samuel Morgan.

You previously exhibited at the Spring Break Art Show. What was that experience like?

Art fairs are really important to new galleries, and especially for us, they complement our online program. I showed four artists: Susan M. B. Chen, Gretchen Scherer, Lauren Gidwitz, and Aparna Sarkar. It was a lot of work, but totally worth it. It helped us get our name and mission out there. That fair in general always has high quality work, and I really felt grateful to be included. 

Through Me Through You, Aparna Sarkar

What are you looking forward to at the Affordable Art Fair?

I’m really excited for the Affordable Art Fair. It’s a bit bigger, and it’s really aimed at new collectors. I’ll be showing five artists: Jessica Bottalico, Cathleen Clarke, Kara Cox, Sarah Fuhrman, and Ellen Siebers. There’s a mix of styles, but they all complement each other in interesting ways.

Kaddish, Shayna Miller

Name your favorite female artist.

Today I’ll say Paula Rego. I love her prints especially. 

Best piece of advice for other “artrepreneurs”?

Resist the dreaded “imposter syndrome,” and don’t doubt yourself. You’re doing something new, and it’s okay to not have all the answers. 

See Also

Artwork by Susan M B Chen

What is something people don’t know about participating in an art fair?

While exhibitors love meeting new people and discussing the art, the whole thing is a bit exhausting. Install is a lot of work, and sitting at your booth all day can make you surprisingly tired. 

How has Collective 131 evolved since you first began?

It really began as a side-project for me, but it’s evolved way past that. I’ve been able to build a community of amazing artists and women “artrepreneurs” around me, which I’m really grateful for. From a few artists on the website, we’re now up to 14 and growing.

Yellow Wallpaper, Jessica Bottalico

What has been a memorable experience from your journey thus far?

Going back to Spring/Break, it was really rewarding to talk to so many people, and seeing people post about our booth on Instagram – just getting that positive response to what we were doing was incredible. 

Flowers and Table, Jessica Bottalico

What should we expect for the rest of 2019?

We’ll be growing our artist roster quite a bit, and we’ll be focusing on building up our blog as well, so please subscribe!

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