Sunday, October 24, 2010

Art as Business Interview: Niklas Holm

Niklas Holm: Daisy, 180 x 155 cm

How would you describe your art?

I employ a battery of painterly marks, graphic signs and symbols, my paintings explore the profusion of our visual and material culture. In my recent work the mood is ambiguous - recollections of flowers, hearts and cartoon characters might imply a sweet, almost cloying world yet a dark brooding palette, combined washes and veils of paint, evoke dissolution and decay. The paintings seem to suggest the seductions, contradictions and disappointment of contemporary life and culture.
Niklas Holm: No more, 180 x 210 cm
Do you make a living out of your art and related practices – or do you combine it with another job?

Art provides the lion part of my living. Besides being an active artist, I teach and consult in art.

How long have you been working professionally as an artist? 

I have been working full time as an artist for about four years. Before that, studies at art-schools for aprox eight years.

Have you had a big break? If not; any turning point?

Maybe not a big break, small breaks all the time. Signing with my gallerist Natalia Goldin, exhibited at Basel art fair, got a major art collector in USA, collaborations with Ralph Lauren etc..

What is your primary client base?

My primary client bases are art galleries, collectors and commissions.

Niklas Holm: EndIsTheBeginningIsTheEnd, 155 x 180 cm
Describe your work environment. Do you work alone or with others? In a studio or at home? Does this arrangement work for you, and if not, what would your ideal work environment look like?

I have moved my studio to my living room. Me and my man didn’t really use it and it was big and bright so I made it into my studio. It works perfectly! I can work whenever.

I prefer to do studio work alone, I need to access a certain mental space and focus. That’s easier in solitude.

I do have collaborations outside the studio, for example with a colleague of mine, Susann Brännström We put together exhibitions and proposals for future shows.
Niklas Holm: Black hole sun, 195 x 180 cm
Do you have a typical workday? How much time do you spend creating and how much on business related activities?

I try to batch activities together when working outside the studio. If I teach in the afternoon, I’ll do office work in the morning. I like having uninterrupted sessions in the studio and not have to step into and out of different mental worlds in one day.

Which marketing strategies have/have not been successful in advancing your career? Or maybe we should call it strategies to become more visible/noticed?

The most important tool has been exhibitions! That’s where I publish the results of my visual research. An active website has been equally important. It’s a great tool to reach a global audience. My gallerist, Natalia Goldin, has played a crucial role in promoting me and establish credibility towards clients.

Another vital strategy is establishing a network of people. Their know-how from various areas are extremely useful and help solve problems synergistically.
Niklas Holm: Black, 155 x 180 cm
Can you share any tips on business organization or financial planning that have worked well for you?

Work hard, prepare to finance your art and additionally educate yourself, create a trustworthy network.

Do you have any advice on how to rebound emotionally from rejection or difficult client situations?

I have learnt to distance myself from decision that I can not control. Competition is very hard, and decision regarding funds etc is not always based on quality of work. Not seldom is politics and personal taste components of those decisions. I try hard to not let that affect my work.

Based on your experience, what suggestions or lessons learned would you give to someone starting out as an artist?

If you have determined that you want to become an artist, and no other option is acceptable, then go for it! Many talented will try, but few have the necessary drive. Too many educated artist quit after a few years in practice. It’s really sad!

I would definitely advice to study art abroad. The art-world is small and limited in Sweden. A tight space makes multiple movements and artists impossible to coexist. In such an environment, trend and provincialism may prove to be successful in the short term. Trend and provincialism has never mixed well with art.
Niklas Holm: Down, 144 x 144 cm

What would you like to accomplish in 2011?

I would love to exhibit in Berlin, New York and Tokyo!

What are your long-term career goals as an artist?

My long term goal is to get more time to develop and show my art. To develop the opportunity to interact with interesting partners. To find alternative sites for work, USA for example!

Finally:  Can you share something inspiring?

I think it is necessary to look at art! All art is interesting and may propel your own understanding of art. I learn through observation and analysis of the work of others. Even art of poor quality has values that can be useful! It’s important to remain mentally fluent, keep observing and don’t discriminate art that you may subjectively find bad!

Niklas Holm: Outside, 180 x 210 cm


●• Thereza said...

nice work! i have to come back later to read it properly. been a bit of a manic monday so far over here :s

Veja cecilia said...


gracia said...

Another good interview to read, and I like the idea of the lounge room becoming a studio; it's a clever use of space.

annamaria potamiti said...

The more I see these paintings the more I discover in them and I love them- Thank you both for this interview- very intersting!;^)

Unknown said...

I'm always glad reading your interviews, to see how others work and describe their situtation about work-art-career. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone, I have the realy lovely beautiful painting "down" hangin' in my livingroom, been there for two years now, makes day

Anonymous said...

Makes my day.......