For these two, their gallery’s success is a work of art.
INSTINCT: How did you two get started?
ROB DELAMATER AND GAÉTAN CARON: We put aside one night a week while both working for our respective companies to discuss the idea of starting our own business. We both knew how much work and energy it would take. We would only do it if we found a business idea we were both passionate about.
How did you settle on this one?
The idea of collecting Modern Era artworks infl uenced by the different art movements came after three months (and after coming up with several ideas that wouldn’t last more than one week). We imagined a place where one could go to look for original artworks where eclecticism and affordability would meet. We started hosting weekly “art salons” in our Mission District living rooms (we are next-door neighbors) until we were ready for a permanent location.
What did you learn along the way?
Don’t try to defi ne your entire business idea from the start. It will take a life of its own as it develops. It doesn’t really add anything to worry about whether or not customers will show up. Instead, you need to question whether you’ve done everything in your power to bring them in.
What’s your favorite type of art?
We both have an affi nity for the Bloomsbury Group (1900-1918), a circle of Modern Era British artists and writers with a bohemian disposition. We especially love the work of Duncan Grant (who by the way was gay) because of what it represents for us as creative people. Grant’s paintings, as well as his work as a decorative designer and craftsman with the Omega Workshop, highly infl uenced the collecting style we’ve developed.
How does art make you feel?
We think art most succeeds when it elicits a strong emotional reaction from the viewer. There’s certainly a place for images that are simply pleasant, but a painting that can prick the core of your emotions will stay with you for a lifetime.
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What are you proudest of professionally?
Over the past few years we have discovered a number of “lost artists” like Clyde F. Seavey, Alice Bishop and Peter Witwer who were previously unknown but now have a following amongst art collectors. Telling their personal stories and displaying their works, sometimes for the very first time, is incredibly satisfying.
How did you know that you guys had made it?
When a client comes back for the fourth or fifth time, you know you’re doing something right. More and more designers, including some of the best known in the San Francisco Bay Area, are now using our collection for their clients and projects.
Why should art be an important part of everyone’s home?
Original art adds soul to any environment, especially a home. A collection of art tells a story about you: your aesthetic, your values, your personal history. A home with original art simply feels different from a home without. There’s a warmth and intrigue that art adds that mass-manufactured items cannot. Art is a great conversation piece and creates an atmosphere rich with sentiment and personal style.
Our concept with Lost Art Salon was to take away the fear around entering an art gallery by creating a warm, residential-like setting (think 1920s Paris salon meets urban loft) where the average price per piece is under $500. That means you don’t have to look at the price tags before you get swept away in the experience of connecting with the art. People often come in with no idea of what exactly it is that they like and end up discovering a style, genre or period of art they have a real passion for.
HOW TO CHOOSE ART FOR YOUR HOME
1. Select something that you will want to own for the long term. Don’t worry too much about whether or not it matches your sofa or fits above your mantel. You can always find the right spot for a piece you truly love.
2. Buy one-of-a-kind works that fit into your budget instead of reproductions that anyone else has. There’s something about knowing you are the only one in the world who owns this work of art. Original works have a soulful quality that simply cannot be captured in reproductions, no matter how good.
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