Nuria Madrenas grew up going to art galleries instead of theme parks with her parents. “I didn’t appreciate it then, but now I definitely do now,” says the Toronto native and former PR pro, who left her full-time agency job to start Tacit, an online gallery that curates work exclusively by female artists.
While working in public relations, Maderans started creating her own illustrations, “it was just for fun, as a creative outlet, but it made me realize how hard it is to get discovered as an artist.” She launched with 10 artists, mostly friends, selling prints of their work. “It snowballed from there.”
By “snowballed,” Madrenas explains that she now has a roster of dozens of artists from around the world. There’s Vancouver-based oil painter Rebbecca Enjolie, Hungarian-Canadian photographer Sztella Muzslai who shoots using vintage cameras and the feminine, healing work of Texas-based Marie Alexander. “There is still an upsetting disparity between male and female artists, so this will always be our ethos,” she says.
Along with selling artists’ work, Madrenas has grown Tacit to include an art consulting service for residential and commercial clients. Say you want a gallery wall in your living room—and you want it practically overnight. Madrenas and her team set up virtual Zoom consultations and have a questionnaire on their site to determine your style, palette and mood. From there, they do the work of framing, positioning and, most importantly, curating art that’s truly meaningful. “As an art collector, you value what you pay for. It’s the same as paying $30 for a SoulCycle class, when you pay that price, you really put value into that thing that you’re doing or that thing that you’re buying. This is something timeless that will stay with you for years,” says Madrenas. The Tacit team also recently outfitted a fertility clinic with art for their walls. “I love partnering with clients or brands who truly appreciate the fact that it’s female-led, and that we’re trying to close the female-artist gap.”
Not all of the artists that Madrenas curates for Tacit are full-time creatives. Many create art on the side, and Madrenas has picked up on some common struggles faced by the women she works with. “Many struggle with commission work, it’s entirely custom to your client, and although it has a pretty appealing price tag attached to it, the client dictates the visual as opposed to the artist.” General discoverability is another struggle. “It’s hard to get noticed, even if you’re selling your work on Etsy, it’s such an oversaturated platform.” And although Madrenas still discovers new artists through Instagram, she knows that the whims of the app’s algorithm can be challenging. “How do you keep up and reach a new audience when you used to have an engaged following but it dropped off?”
Here, Madrenas shares some advice on how to make money as an artist, whether you’re just getting started or looking to ramp up.
Know Your Value
“That’s what I always tell artists, people will be open to the price you set for yourself. So many people have that struggle, because they think it’s this balancing act of wanting to sell a high volume and needing to price yourself low in order to drive that volume. But that’s not indicative of the actual worth of your art. I always tell people to figure out what they want to charge, and then double it.”
Get on All the Platforms
“We allow our artists to sell their work wherever they wish, they don’t have to be exclusive to us. So if you’re starting out, get on Etsy, Society6, try to align yourself with a gallery. Do in-person pop-ups and trade shows. It’s crucial to be seen wherever you can.”
Find a Gallery
“Aligning yourself with either a dealer or a gallery or even just a platform that can do that marketing for you and bring you in that business really helps even if it’s just initially to get your work seen and get your name out there and get the association with other like-minded creatives and artists.”
Keep an Eye on Trends
“I’ll share different trends that I notice of what people are buying with our artists, should the artists want to follow those trends or make something that would make sense to them within that trend. A more tactical strategy is tapping into pop-culture and tagging whoever you’re doing an illustration of. Let’s say it’s Oprah, and you’re tagging her and you’re tagging other accounts that can amplify your work.”
Consider an Unlikely Collaboration
“Look to do a brand collaboration or a collaboration with another artist. That really helps gain more visibility to your work by reaching other audiences. But it also keeps your body of work really diverse and exciting. Even if you’re an artist who does solely abstract canvas work, but now you’re doing a candle label design for a local brand that you love, that’s something that really helps gain more exposure and also leaves your audience on their toes.”