Taking your Art Internationally - Interview with Olivia Alexander
We do not choose to be artists. Art chooses us’
- Olivia Alexander
Olivia Alexander has been a professional artist for almost two decades and has exhibited and sold her art worldwide. She is the recipient of numerous international awards including, Bronze and Pewter medal Diplomas from the Paris Society of Arts, Sciences and Letters and a Silver medal diploma from the French International Academy of Merit.
Natasha: Good morning Olivia, welcome to The Artists Chat Room. Thank you for coming this morning to chat with us about your experiences in going international with your art.
Olivia: Good morning Natasha it's great to be here.
N: For many years now you have had a successful international career with overseas collectors, exhibitions and awards. How did you start developing your international career?
Olivia: I started off doing local exhibitions, any group exhibition that came up I participated in, taking that time to develop my art style. I spent a lot of time networking online, chatrooms, following other artists and seeing what they were doing, gathering information. Researching.
Natasha: How exactly did you do your research?
O: I looked for artists who were doing what I wanted to do.
Looking at how they were doing it and seeing where they were exhibiting. Then I’d research that exhibition itself. If you do your research it prevents you from getting into what isn’t good for your career. I developed relationships with those artists and then politely asking them for tips on how they did it. I found a lot of artists were very happy to share with me because I took the time to build relationships, I had people to ask who gave me very good advice.
Contacts are gold. Getting online and joining in and being active. Talking to people, encouraging others. This built contacts.
N: Tell us about your time in Italy in 2010.
O: I participated in an art residency in Gargano, Italy on the Adriatic coast. The painted every day on the beach WITH an exhibition. The paintings stayed with the hotel as it was our payment to them for the food and accommodation. Painting live, on a beach, under umbrellas with people coming to us and chatting with us was a magnificent experience. It is where I began my relationship with a curator that I have since worked with many times. It was quite an adventure lots of connections and friends.
N: Tell me about exhibiting in Paris.
I’ve had quite a bit of success in Paris at the Salon d’Automne on the Champs Élysées in Paris – My first exhibition had 400 artists; I was the only Australian Artist. I sold my work at that exhibition which covered the cost of me and the art going over. The opening was very exciting, and I made some phenomenal connections which I have to this day.
Through that, I was recognition in Paris. Nominated for an award to the Paris Society of Arts, Sciences and Letters - they are an international academy of recognition for doctors, scientists, researchers, artists, musicians, opera singers, writers, poets, who acknowledge them for their contribution in their field. You need to be nominated by someone and they investigate your career, cv and see what you have achieved as well as the quality and your professionalism. In 2012 I received the bronze award, 2014 the silver and now I am waiting to hear if I have been acknowledged to go up a level.
You wait 6 years for this level and if you get this, I will then be waiting 10 years for the gold. From this, I received a valuation of my work which has helped me with my pricing.
N: What are your tips on Shipping overseas?
I’ve been shipping for a long time. I even sent 3 artworks which were under glass to Los Vegas and they arrive in perfect condition. I find it is better to overprotect.
I always start with a layer of tissue paper. This is to protect the art from the bubble wrap.
You never know what temperatures your painting will be exposed to. A double layer of bubble wrap and then I put cardboard corners that go on the outside of the bubble wrap. I make my box out of double cardboard (bike shops have heaps) with room to breathe around the painting and lots of packing between the layers in the box.
N: Tell us a bit about customs and art.
O: Read the terms and conditions and any other forms you get sent. Any questions ask the curator, especially concerning shipping. There may be customs fees. I have had the experience where customs held my art for 3 weeks and I had to pay 80 euros to release my work for the exhibition.
When you fill out the value section on the forms don’t overvalue your works. What would it cost you to replace those pieces? I would recommend you call it ‘ artworks’ Make sure you pay for insurance which I also use wholesale costs.
It can be just as hard to sell overseas as it is in Australia. Sometimes people think that if they go overseas that they will sell automatically just because they are exhibiting overseas. This is not the case and your work might have to come back home.
N: Is there anything we need to watch out for?
S: Vanity Galleries - they prey on the vanity of the artists and charge exorbitant fees for you to exhibit with them. They usually approach you. If you get these offers, research what other artists have exhibited with them and politely approach them.
Ask them about their experiences with this gallery and if they had found this helpful. Would you recommend this?
O: What it has done it is has verified me as an artist. Not to myself but my collectors and the art community. It shows that I am a professional, I’m serious, this is my career it is my passion.
I did it because I loved it. I enjoyed meeting people and travelling. Yes, I got sales and collectors and awards, but I didn’t go into this for that. They were the bonuses for me. Helped to strengthen and build my career.
N: Thank you so much, Olivia, for generously sharing with us your knowledge and experience. I am positive that this will resonate with others who were wanting to do the same but unsure where to start.
O: It has been my pleasure to be here talking to you and thank you for inviting me to The Artist Chat Room. I hope to see more artists going overseas with their art.
Photo: Olivia, mutual friend Lisa and myself, Natasha
To find Olivia you can go to:
Recapping Olivia’s Top Tips
Research! Research! Research!
Join groups and join in with the discussions
Have a go
If you can go overseas yourself - GO
Talk to your curator
Shipping - Package well
Customs – Wholesale price for valuation
Face to face - contact wherever possible.
This interview was an Instagram Live - The Artists Chat Room 22 April 2020
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