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Women Shaping the Art World: Olivia Davis & Maria Vogel
The No-Bullshit Approach to Art Advising
Career 23 Apr 2019

20190423_OliviaDavis&MariaVogel1_theartgorgeous
Art of Choice Founder Olivia Davis and Executive Editor Maria Vogel
Where did you do your first internship?

OD: My first internship was at Christie’s Auctions & Private Sales. My time as an intern in the PR department gave me hands-on experience of the inner workings of an auction house and a unique understanding of art from a business perspective. My responsibilities greatly enhanced my understanding of the art market and helped lay the foundation for what was to come.

MV: My first (and only) art-world internship was at Pace Gallery. I joined their PR department while finishing grad school at Sotheby’s Institute of Art. I extended the internship as long as I could because I loved being a part of the gallery’s operations and helping to further their 50+ year old mission and unmatched programming. It was an incredible first foray into the art world that left me with a diverse set of experiences.

Did you have any mentors you learned a lot from?

OD: My mentors are constantly changing. My parents are mentors to me. They’ve always been supportive and have allowed me to take a chance on Art of Choice. They’ve taught me that if you want something, you have to be willing to work at it, even if it doesn’t bring stability right away. Certain clients of mine, who I have built strong rapports with have also become mentors to me. Anyone who is able to successfully pursue a career that is also his/her passion, I consider a mentor.

MV: One of my biggest mentors to date is Lolita Cros, an Independent Curator based in NYC. Lolita is the in-house curator at The Wing and I have been lucky to work alongside her for about a year now. She has taught me so much about executing shows and working with different branches of the art world. One of my biggest takeaways from Lolita that I remind myself daily is that the tiniest details have just as much importance as the overall picture.

What was your first job?

OD: My first job was at David Kordansky Gallery, where I was able to engage directly with the art community in Los Angeles by establishing relationships with artists, gallerists, and by attending various art fairs and events. This experience helped me understand the gallery model and how to maintain different relationships.

MV: My first job was also at Pace! I knew I was in the midst of something where I could learn so much and grow in the industry so when I was offered a full-time position, I jumped at the opportunity. When I walked away from the company, I felt prepared to venture out on my own and soon after, connected with Olivia.

Did you experience a lot of competitiveness in your career path?

OD: The art industry is one of the most competitive markets today. Being an art advisor, you really experience that at the forefront. It’s about staying on top of things and constantly having a sense of urgency. You have to keep track of the works, your clients, and all the tedious logistics all while somehow being present in all time zones, 24 hours a day.

MV: The art world is certainly competitive, but there is so much opportunity when you just go after what you want. I find that people in the art world are most impressed when you cold contact them and ask to take them for a coffee / pick their brain. Even if a job doesn’t come out of that conversation, you will walk away with new and unique knowledge that will set you ahead.

Did you always like to work in the art world and why?

OD: All throughout my life I have been immersed in the art world that it has become part of my DNA. Growing up in New York City gave me the opportunity to explore some of the world’s most revered galleries, museums and art events. I found myself intrigued by art from a young age and pursued this through my college and post-grad education.

MV: I’ve definitely had moments where I thought that maybe the art industry wasn’t for me – it’s so vast and there are some aspects of it I do not agree with and do not want to align myself with. That being said, I made a decision near the beginning of my career that if I was going to be in the art world it would be on my own terms, setting my own rules. With Art of Choice, Olivia and I have truly been able to make a company that directly reflects and perpetuates our personal beliefs of the art world and a mission we feel compelled to carry out.

Do you feel the art world is undergoing lots of changes these days?

OD: Without a doubt. Living between New York and Los Angeles has given me an understanding of different art markets and a valuable perspective of the fast-globalizing art market. The art market in Los Angeles is much more active than what it was two years ago and it’s still booming. Through my past experiences in the art world, I’ve noticed how the art market, as a whole, is changing a lot, and I believe change is imperative for the art world. It’s a shift I’ve also contributed to by creating Art of Choice. Art used to be spread by

word-of-mouth or something you would only discover by seeing it in person, and now with advances in technology and social media, access to arts and culture has opened doors to works, clients, artists, etc.

MV: Absolutely. Brick and mortar experiences are being substituted for virtual or technologically-driven ones and the traditionally gallery model is getting shaken up. On the other hand, there seems to be more a democratic sense that you do not have to own a name-brand gallery to put on amazing exhibitions. Pop-up exhibitions in unique spaces are becoming more and more welcomed. Many people ask Olivia and I if we’d like to open a gallery down the line and both of us feel that the company does not need to be attached to one specific location, but rather can live in many different worlds, digital and physically, based on the current status of the art world.

Where do you see yourself in the coming 5 years?

OD: I’m unsure if I’ll move back to NY or stay in LA to continue to be on the forefront of some of the exciting innovations occurring out here. Luckily, the role I have affords me the opportunity to work from anywhere. We have plans to grow Art of Choice in so many ways and I’m excited to see where that takes me.

MV: I’ve been based in New York for the past 5 years and I’m interested to spend time in another major art market, whether its LA, London, or Hong Kong. I do not like to get too comfortable in one place for long because I think there is opportunity everywhere and want to be a part of as much of it as I can get my hands on.

Best career advice you received?

OD: Currency is connections and your reputation is everything.

MV: Know that what you put out in the world will come back to you.

Your words of wisdom for young women?

OD: Pursue what you’re passionate about and be prepared to overcome obstacles on the way.

MV: Do not feel confined to the supposed limitations of the structure we’ve been put into. Dream up what you want your life to look like and go for it – if your passion is backing you up, you’ll always find a way to succeed.

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