Add art collecting to the myriad ways that Instagram has changed how we do things.
Collecting art shouldn’t be daunting or break the bank, according to Liza Pruitt, founder of an eponymous art collective. When she moved back to Richmond seven years ago, Pruitt’s friends kept asking her how she found such fabulous art for her walls.
“People my age were just starting to collect art, but they were super-intimidated by the process,” she explains. “I wanted to create a platform to make it easier.”
Although her degree is in sociology and she has no art history or arts management background, Pruitt felt a kinship with others eager to start buying art. Because galleries felt intimidating, she’d made most of her own art purchases on Instagram and by 2018, saw a need to offer others the same platform. She began reaching out to emerging artists, not only from Richmond but all over the country, determined to focus on accessibility and affordability.
“I grew up with a mom who collected, so she was my inspiration,” Pruitt says. “My sister worked at a gallery right out of college, so I asked her how things work in the art world.”
She priced the art available on her website to appeal to budding collectors, with many pieces only $50 and the most expensive at $3,200. “But that piece is huge — 48 inches by 60 inches — and an established gallery would charge more like $5,000 to $10,000 for it,” she points out. “I wanted to show Richmond that you can find original and authentic art at a good price point.”
A big part of her business model is developing relationships with clients who feel overwhelmed by choosing art. She does in-home consultations to determine what matters most to them: style or prices. Because she works only with emerging artists, clients are able to purchase art — landscapes, abstracts, sketches, still life and figurative works — that suits their budget. When nothing on her website speaks to a client, she’ll help commission a piece.
Her first rule is to buy what you love. “This piece is going to live on your wall, so you want to walk in and get a feeling that makes you happy every single time you see it,” she says. “Purchase what you love and figure out where it can hang later.”
Pruitt wishes more people would begin a room’s design with a piece of art rather than trying to match a painting to a decorated room.
She’s quick to admit that social media has been a game changer in the art world because now artists can put their work out to the world without gallery representation. Her weekly newsletter highlights recent acquisitions, but she finds Instagram and Facebook to be the quickest and easiest means of introducing new works to art lovers.
In an effort to be a one-stop shop, she also offers to get pieces framed when a client doesn’t have time or isn’t certain about what will work best. “I’ll even install it in their home if they want,” she says, laughing. “I just want it to get hung on the wall.”
She’s working to grow her e-commerce with a robust online presence. As for the more than 20 artists in the collective — including locals Amanda Gough and Caroline Pinney — she’s hoping they eventually do so well they outgrow her, which would send her looking for a fresh crop of rising artists. Although none of the artists in the collective are Virginia Commonwealth University graduates, that’s another area she’s looking to address.
“I’d love to work with VCU grads and be a mentor for students coming out of college on how to build their portfolios.”
In the meantime, the Liza Pruitt Collective will be part of the Harvest Market Trunk Show being held at the arts district home décor shop Someday, with snacks and sips from Belle Isle Moonshine’s new line of canned cocktails on hand to fuel artistic shopping endeavors.
Although her sociology degree and sales background may seem 180 degrees away from running an art collective, Pruitt sees it differently.
“It’s all about connecting with people and hearing the stories of artists and clients,” she says. “Meeting so many interesting people through social media, that’s the biggest plus of doing this.”
Liza Pruitt Collective at the Harvest Market Trunk Show on Saturday, Oct. 12, from noon to 6 p.m. at Someday, 22 E Broad St., lizapruitt.com.