In the lake-side town of Taupo in North Island New Zealand, I found a lovely art gallery-come-studio owned and run by artist Graham Moeller. Located right in the heart of the town on a busy high street, I was really intrigued to hear how Graham succeeds in opening up a commercial unit to use as studio and gallery space. He encourages artists to follow in his footsteps and take on shop premises to open as artist-owned gallery spaces, bringing art to the forefront of the high street and making local art accessible for residents and visitors to the town. I asked him how he plucked up the courage to make such a bold move and take on such a huge responsibility.
I guess the best way to tell you is that it was by accident really. Me being of a retail background and knowing the benefits of retailing in a main street location, it seemed an only natural thing to do as the main problem facing artists is where to display their work.
If you do the math on marketing and advertising costs to get buyers to visit a private gallery, then it is a very basic win/win to have a gallery in a retail position. There are no advertising costs as the buyers are passing the gallery all the time…24 hours a day if you like.
In my experience that is the reason my little gallery is reasonably successful for me.
And successful it certainly is, there were lots of people popping in and out to have a look while I was there, and sales are a regular occurrence too – the gallery wouldn’t survive if the paintings didn’t sell. Graham enjoys sharing his artworks and love for beautiful New Zealand scenery, and the gallery unit provides a perfect platform for doing exactly that. For me as a visitor it was a special and unique experience being able to go into a gallery owned by the artist himself, in a central location right on the high street, where I could see a local artist busy working away, view a large collection of his work in a professional setting, all in the same place. It felt extra special because I didn’t have to make any effort to find the place, I just stumbled across it (most of the customers are passing trade attracted by the signage) and had a lovely time looking at Graham’s paintings inspired by New Zealand landscapes, watching him paint and chatting to him about life as an artist in New Zealand.
Graham is really keen to share his experiences of opening up a gallery as a solo artist, so if you would like to talk with him about the process and hear some great tips, he is very happy to share! Visit his website www.taupoartgallery.co.nz
If you are visiting Taupo soon make sure you check out Taupo Art Gallery and pay Graham a visit:
Taupo Art Gallery, 5 Heu Heu Street, Taupo, New Zealand