According to the Creative and Cultural Industries 2012/13 report, 85% of creative art companies employ fewer than four people, increasing pressure on many art graduates. Sophie Giblin has faced this problem, yet her entrepreneurial skill has allowed her to set up a pop-up gallery on Gloucester Road, Brighton. This is part of her job role as the Curator and Director of Kollektiv Gallery. I interviewed her about the journey, and her most recent project.
It’s clear that you have achieved so much since you graduated. You’re obviously involved in quite a lot in your projects, showing your passion for art, and also public places where people can see art. Where did this passion come from?
I graduated in 2013 from the University of Brighton and I got a first. Even so, most of my friends went on job seekers and the people who did get creative jobs were really badly underpaid and badly overworked. I tried to think what the problem was, and figured out pretty quickly that none of us had any business sense. I think business and entrepreneurship should be mandatory to be taught at university. I took 2 business courses, and decided I would open a gallery for me and my friends so we could learn about professionalism on our own terms. And that’s exactly what I did. I looked for a space. I decided to do it in empty high street shops because there’s load of them everywhere. We crowdfunded the money with Kickstarter and raised £3500 in 2 weeks, and that’s all we needed.
That is a great inspirational story. It shows if you really want something it’s definitely out there. Even so, it sounds like you had to work a lot harder then you should. The kickstarter showed there was a demand but people in higher power don’t realise we want art gallerys. Do you think there should be more money for pop-up spaces or is it down to passion?
I think funding is everywhere, but it takes a certain person with certain determination. I don’t think what we did was exceptional, it was just that we were sick and tired.
Let’s talk about this gallery specifically.
This gallery is called Kollektiv Gallery. This is run by Somewhere2, an amazing organization that helps 25 year olds and younger find space and negotiate it on your terms for free. This particular project involves the owners of this café donating this space for free for an entire year and creatives aged 25 or lower can pitch to have this space for a week at a time. I got this space last minute, so I did what I did best and called up my friends saying “Yo, what are you doin?” and with pretty much nothing we have turned this into a cute pop-up gallery with workshops every day. This time round the theme is just the challenge of it lasting 6 days.
What would your advice be for someone who wants their own art (not commissioned art) displayed in a public place?
It’s tricky. Get down with your community: get involved. It can be a too familiar story when people sit in their rooms and get depressed. You’ve just got to show up, be polite, take people for coffee and get involved with what they’re doing by way of skill swapping and make yourself useful and see how people can be useful for you. Be brave!
We haven’t got the funding for it yet, but we’ve sent the application off. It’s called ‘Nice to Meet you’, and it’s all about international collaboration. The theme is more about ambition then entrepreneurship like Kollektiv Gallery. In this project we introduce UK artists to artists all around the world via visual dialogues. Artists ask each other a question and they answer. First its Brighton and Barcelona, but it can go anywhere!
The Pop-Up Gallery event has now finished, but Sophie has many more exhibitions and projects in the pipeline for the future. You can keep up to date with what she’s up to on her website.
Interview by Robert Bone