Jimena Guijarro says she was "born into the art world."
The fresh-faced 26-year-old, tall and poised beyond her years, spent her early life watching her gallerist father grow his business into one of Mexico City's most prominent institutions for discovering emerging Latin American talent. Moving to Miami in 2009, Guijarro double-majored in public relations and art history before joining her father at the gallery and, later, working as an art consultant at Guijarro de Pablo Art Consulting.
Guijarro, who has spent the majority of her adult life "dragging friends to museum exhibitions and studio visits," realized she was often the youngest person in the room at art fairs and gallery openings; most people her age had a minimal understanding of her beloved art world. She saw an opportunity.
"I think a lot of people who want to go to art fairs and other events just feel completely lost. They don't understand how it works or what they're looking at, they're not sure if they can afford it, but they want to consume it," she says. "So I thought, why not build a bridge between Latin American artists and young collectors at one of Miami Art Week's largest Latin American art fairs?"
In launching the Young Collectors Desk at Pinta Miami art fair during Miami Art Week 2016, Guijarro is joining a growing push throughout the art world to capture, educate, and inspire a younger collecting audience. A host of revolutionary startups are redefining the art market in an era when auction sales are slowing and prices dropping. Nearly all are aimed at cultivating a new class of collectors by offering accessible, affordably priced artworks or clever financing mechanisms to draw new patrons and drum up more sales. Businesses such as online marketplace Artsy, which hosts galleries and auction houses selling works priced from $200 to $10 million in an engaging, easy-to-shop format, and Arthena, which lets would-be art collectors crowdfund their collection with an investment as small as $2,000, offer young art collectors greater means to buy in the hopes of ensuring the art market's economic future. And when the art world converges on Miami this week, so will its increased opportunities for virgin buyers.
In Miami, attracting young collectors as a means of preserving arts philanthropy and investment has had marked success at Pérez Art Museum Miami, which founded the Young Collectors Council (YCC) in 2010 as a way to cultivate future donors. Donating $750 per year to its collecting "budget," the council attends a yearly meeting and chooses a new work to acquire for the museum. Rene Morales, a curator at PAMM spearheading the Young Collectors Council, says the group has grown from six to about 20 households. Their collecting experience, he says, is diverse.
"There's definitely a broad range: There are people who are just starting out and getting into contemporary art, and then there are people who are more experienced collectors and have really wonderful pieces in their homes," Morales says.
Many of these "young" collectors aren't actually young; at PAMM, YCC members range from 30 to 50 years old. For Guijarro, "young" simply describes a novice-level understanding of art and the art market. "When I say young collectors, I don't necessarily discriminate by age," she says. "It's more of an experience-based, affordability-minded sector."
Guijarro's Young Collectors Desk, which will have its inaugural run at Pinta Miami, invites interested art lovers to sign up for a free tour at the fair. The tour visits galleries offering works fitting a young collector's budget and gives advice on how to make an offer or negotiate the price. "I'm asking participating galleries to send me what they're showing that falls within a budget of $500 to $20,000," Guijarro says.
Though she notes that Young Collectors Desk is an all-ages group, Guijarro has found that younger audiences are her largest demographic. "At the end of the day, contemporary art speaks to younger audiences because they're dealing with our context," she says. "What makes you passionate about an artwork is whether you can relate to it somehow."
Peter Tunney, cofounder of Goldman Global Arts alongside Jessica Goldman Srebnick, agrees that context is key to drawing a younger audience. Presenting original works by renowned Wynwood Walls street artists in an onsite gallery during Miami Art Week, Tunney expects to draw a younger audience both for the affordable prices and subversive nature of the works. "These artists are social activists; they're changing elections and perceptions and injecting hope," Tunney says. "Young collectors want to buy art from someone whose values they appreciate."
Alex Mitow, founder of Superfine! art fair, says building a young collector base involves offering affordably priced works presented in an easy-to-digest yet captivating manner. "Original artwork is something people just don't think is on their radar," Mitow says. "They'll spend $5,000 on a designer sofa, but they can't conceive of buying art."
Mitow founded Superfine! to build a bridge between artist and collector that makes the process of attending an art fair transparent and easily accessible. Rather than charge high premiums for exhibitors, Superfine! has lowered the barrier of entry for exhibiting artists and galleries, which in turn puts less pressure on them to sell. "Galleries and artists spending thousands on an art fair are evaluating everyone who talks to them at the fair to determine whether they're worth talking to," Mitow says. "They simply can't afford to take their time."
By creating a friendlier environment, Mitow hopes potential collectors will feel less inhibited. In tandem with Superfine!, Mitow formed Collectors' Society, a membership group meant to engage and educate Superfine! attendees throughout the year. "We encourage our patrons to make offers or even present different financing schemes with our artists," he says. "We encourage sales because it completes the relationship between artist and collector and creates an entryway for emerging artists and galleries to cultivate new collectors."
Grooming potential collectors from a relatively young age could have lasting effects on the art economy. Guijarro, who has been personally collecting for as long as she can remember, says art collecting is about more than making an investment. "I could easily sell some of my pieces for a good sum of money, and funny enough, I wouldn't," she says. Instead, she keeps going back for more — a sign that those cultivating young collectors are on the right track.
"The idea of advising young collectors is that they'll look at what they've collected and just keep going," she says. "That can only bode well for the market."
November 30 through December 4 at Mana Wynwood, 2217 NW Fifth Ave., Miami. Visit pintamiami.com. Donation suggested for admission.
Goldman Global Arts Gallery
December 1 through February 2017 at Wynwood Walls, 2520 NW Second Ave., Miami. Visit thewynwoodwalls.com. Admission is free.
December 1 through 4 at 56 NE 29th St., Miami. Visit superfine.world. Admission costs $7.77.