Interview with Founder of Art Collective, Pauline Richards

The Art Collective was originally launched to support and promote new and emerging artists. Working to help represent and showcase today’s top artists, the Art Collective has become a vital support system for those wanting to develop their artistic career. Partnering up with Aesthetica, the Art Collective is presenting a new prize for the Aesthetica Art Prize 2013 comprising six months’ studio space for the Main Prize winner, and six mentoring sessions for the Student Prize winner. The added prize for each category winner will provide a fantastic opportunity for both established and aspiring artists to get their work shown and help raise their profile as an artist with the support, advice and art-sector knowledge of the Art Collective. Other competition prizes include an eight-week group exhibition in York, UK, editorial coverage in Aesthetica Magazine, publication in the Aesthetica Art Prize Anthology and £1000 for the Main Prize winner and £500 for the Student Prize winner. We spoke to one of the founders of The Art Collective, Pauline Richards, about the prize offered and the launch of the Thomas and Paul Contemporary Art gallery in Maida Vale, London.

A: What is it about the Aesthetica Art Prize that made you want to get involved this year?
PR: The philosophy behind the Aesthetica Art Prize is something close to our hearts in showcasing the best of new and emerging artists. The competition’s value in helping to spotlight talented artists is not to be underestimated in a time when we have a tendency to focus only on those whose name already has brand equity behind them or holds high media interest. The UK has historically produced amazing creative and artistic talent; we must all work hard to ensure this heritage continues by supporting all artists.

A: Why do you think competitions like the Aesthetica Art Prize are so important for emerging artists like the ones you represent?PR: The Aesthetica Art Prize offers artists hope, inspiration and a backbone to ensure they continually review their own work and try to push their boundaries and comfort zone. It is competitions and prizes like these that help artists push themselves into challenging areas of working which can produce some interesting art.

A: You’re offering six bespoke mentoring sessions as part of this year’s Student Prize. What more can you tell us about this exciting opportunity?
PR: The Art Collective provides assistance to new and emerging artists in whatever way we can. Every artist is different depending on the medium they work with and their artistic vision, so each mentoring session will be bespoke to suit the individual. Areas which we will be working on with the artist include portfolio reviews, giving advice on how to produce a portfolio presentation of their work to give to prospective galleries. Help will also be given on how to get the attention of galleries and how to get included in art fairs. Commercial advice will be given on the pricing of work, dealing with other professionals and client handling, and how to assess properly anyone who is asking you for money as an artist (the pros and cons of different types of commercial propositions for representation). We will consider how artists can achieve the most out of their career without having to spend too much money. We will be happy to design and provide an electronic portfolio of the artists’ work, which they will be able to use at the end of the final mentoring session. Questions which we will be discussing include; What do you want to achieve with your career? How serious are you as an artist, and do you have a clear and coherent vision that you can best communicate to people? How could you best plan an exhibition and liaise with the curator?

A: The Art Collective was set up to provide support for budding artists. What’s the best piece of advice you can give to those new to the art world from your experience over the years?
PR: Firstly, listen, learn and have some flexibility. Stay positive, and remember that most consultants and gallery managers are happy to offer advice. They work full-time and are passionate about what they do and most people have good intentions and want to work with artists for the right reasons. It is the gallery manager who spends time and money communicating with clients, art collectors and the public, as well as working with art research firms and art fair curators, so take time to understand their opinion and work with them so you can collectively achieve the best results.

Secondly, do not expect instant results as most collectors like to see a bit of history and to see artists’ work a few times before they decide to buy. Think long term, not short term.

Thirdly, keep working; most collectors I know like to be kept apprised of how the artist is developing and seeing new work. This is there way of ensuring you are serious about your craft and for them to get a feel for how you are developing as an artist.

A: Can you explain the process artists you represent go through once you’ve taken them on?
PR: It depends on what level of experience the artist has, however one thing that is really important is building the foundations for a strong and honest relationship. Both parties have to understand each other in order to get the best out of working together. For us we will often go and meet the artist at their studio, see them in their working environment and talk about their art so we can get a good sense as to what the artist wants to portray and what they want out of the relationship and for their career.

A: You’re about to launch the Thomas and Paul Contemporary Art gallery in Maida Vale, London. What was your motivation behind this move?
PR: The Art Collective initiative was originally launched to support and promote new and emerging artists. Over the last few years we have seen some of our artists really flourish and we felt it was important to have a permanent gallery that was there for them to have solo shows, participate in themed shows and look towards international art fairs to reach more cultures. We also get approached by artists who are already established in their own right and want to work with us. The time felt right for us to have a gallery that could support and showcase those artists who already are established artists with a history of work and exhibitions behind them.

A: With this in mind, what can we expect from the Thomas and Paul in the future?
PR: We will be offering monthly solo shows, themed shows for those artists who are specifically represented by Thomas and Paul, plus we will also be doing an annual show with prize money for all those artists in The Art Collective initiative. We are also going to be collaborating with others to provide talks and events in the gallery and to provide a space in which people can engage with the art and enter into discussion. We want to provide a relaxed and inclusive environment for people who visit the Thomas and Paul Contemporary Art gallery to enjoy the experience and feel a connection to the art on show. We want to maintain the Art Collective philosophy of the accessibility of art.

For more details about The Art Collective visit

To enter the Aesthetica Art Prize and for further information visit The deadline is 31 August.

1. Cartography, Tim Lee, courtesy of the artist and Aesthetica.