Alicia Puig is the CEO and co-founder of the digital art gallery PxP Contemporary, Director of Business Operations for Create! Magazine, as well as an author and freelance writer.
PxP Contemporary was founded as a fully digital art gallery and platform that connects collectors with high-quality, affordable artworks. Alicia and co-founder, Ekaterina Popova, created PxP as a way to challenge the traditional art gallery model and make the process of buying art a more accessible, digital-friendly experience.
Launching the gallery
Alicia began her career in the arts around the age of 19, when she was given the opportunity to intern at Somerville Manning Gallery in Delware. The “dynamic pair of female gallery owners,” as Alicia describes them, took a chance on her and gave Alicia her start in the arts industry.
“Looking back, I really had no idea what I was getting into,” says Alicia, “but I ended up loving every minute of my time there.”
As Alicia progressed in her career, she learned to sell art, made connections, and developed an eye for creative talent. Soon people began asking her when she would launch her own gallery.
“I resisted for many years because I didn’t see myself as anything like some of the women who I worked for during this period,” says Alicia.
As both a woman and a minority, one of the most consistent issues Alicia has faced throughout her career is being underestimated. Like with most industries, Alicia describes the art world as still being in many ways “a boy’s club.”
“It’s not always the hard work that gets you ahead,” she says. “That being said, there is still so much room to carve out your own niche and thrive.”
Carving her own niche is exactly what Alicia eventually did with PxP
While she was still apprehensive about launching her own gallery, this perspective soon shifted when Alicia took a huge leap of faith and moved abroad to Amsterdam in October of 2017. There she worked with Linde Steverink, founder of MAG The Art of Magazine Photography. Learning how Linde ran her business instilled confidence in Alicia that she could launch a successful gallery of her own.
In the winter of 2018, Alicia returned to the States and transitioned to working for her now business partner’s international arts publication, Create! Magazine. Over the next few months, the two women discussed ways to not only reach new audiences with the magazine, but also how they could better serve their readership of emerging artists.
“In January of 2019, Ekaterina told me quite directly, ‘Alicia, it’s time to start a gallery,’ and I was finally ready to agree,” says Alicia.
Over the next few months they would worked tirelessly putting together the PxP Contemporary and then launch on May 15th, 2019 with their very first exhibition, “Pilot.”
Since then, Alicia has taken on full responsibility for daily operations of the gallery, but still checks in with Kat to run new ideas for exhibitions or marketing campaigns by her. PxP will soon be celebrating their first year anniversary next month.
Accessibility and diversity
PxP Contemporary has challenged the traditional art gallery model as a successful, fully digital art gallery. The move to online platforms in the arts industry has been slower than in other industries, but now more than ever, a fully digital art gallery is especially convenient.
“It was a deliberate choice that we embraced being fully digital from the beginning, and I’m glad we did,” says Alicia. “Especially in our current situation where clients are stuck at home, there are many galleries scrambling to move all of their sales to online platforms and they still have to worry about the often large overhead costs of keeping up a physical space.”
With everyone stuck at home, PxP offers an accessible art experience and the ability to purchase stunning works from home. At PxP, art lovers can find a curated selection of art priced from $100 – $2,500 by contemporary artists from around the world.
Alicia curates her roster and exhibitions based on creative talent, but the platform is meant to welcome all artists working in any medium who sell within PxP’s price point.
Representing diverse artists is especially important to Alicia.
“Being a minority and understanding what it’s like to not have certain advantages helped Kat and I identify a gap in our industry and seek to address it via our gallery,” says Alicia.
This has helped draw in more women artists, international artists, and new artists since PxP is more diverse than the majority of contemporary galleries that exist today.
Growing the business beyond
Reflecting on memorable and rewarding moments over the past year, Alicia recalls one of her favorites from very early on. The gallery had not yet even opened when they sold a painting by Erika Stearly.
“That was incredibly exciting and validating,” she says.
In general though, the most rewarding aspects of running PxP for Alicia has been helping artists launch their careers and get recognized by leading media outlets.
“Seeing some of our artists move on to bigger galleries and exhibitions after working with PxP has been rewarding as well,” says Alicia.
Alicia is excited to continue growing the gallery in 2020 and beyond so that she can continue to work with more artists, help them make sales, and serve as a launchpad for them to reach the next level in their careers.
“The more successful the gallery is, the more successful our artists are,” says Alicia, “so that’s what drives me to build our business and lead it to prosperity.”
To other’s looking to start their own business Alicia offers a few words of advise.
“Growing your business will take time and it will go through seasons where there are slower periods of sales. Track your numbers and aim to figure out these trends as early as possible so that you can plan for them in advance.”
Additionally she suggests finding other ways to support yourself financially.
“For example, in addition to the gallery, I write for various blogs and magazines, tech workshops, curate independent exhibitions, and will be launching a second book with Kat called The Complete Smartist Guide later this month.”
In addition to minding finances, a few other quick tips would be to
“become a savvy networker, but keep a tight circle, and don’t be afraid to toot your own horn.”
You might be interested: Beyond COVID-19: Prepare your entrepreneur skills for the survival of the fittest
Our next show celebrating our anniversary is called ‘ONE’ and it runs May 15 – Aug 15. It will feature over 100 works of art.
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