As the world continues to grow and change, so does the fine art industry, especially in DC. Today there are hundreds of different ways to experience art in the District, from museums to galleries to pop-ups to festivals, and even in bars and restaurants. Elizabeth Grazioli came to DC by way of New York City/Europe. Having grown up in distinct international art cities she came to DC with a deep-seeded passion for fine art. In 2011 she created ArtSee, a local arts consultancy specializing in communications, offering unique experiences for artists, collectors, and enthusiasts alike.
In this economy, in any economy really, it is difficult to successfully run your own business. To survive in the arts in a down economy is truly a special feat! Through Ms. Grazioli’s leadership ArtSee has grown into a leading fine arts company in DC. Ms. Grazioli is determined to see DC become a leading art city, as she explains in this interview with Kayleigh Bryant (KB) [Elizabeth Graziloi (EG)].
KB: What made you decide to go into business for yourself? And why art?
EG: Art has always been a part of my life in various ways. Growing up abroad I was exposed to art and culture at a young age and I think that is what sparked my interest again as an adult. Having studied art history, I always knew that I wanted to incorporate art in to my life. I decided to go into business on my own post graduation when the economy was on the downslide. I was unsure of what I wanted to do long term, held a few wonderful jobs, and ultimately decided that I wanted to create a space where I could combine all of the things I love most, art, communications, events and people!
KB: How did ArtSee come to be?
EG: ArtSee grew out of a lot of research and brainstorming for the best opportunity for me within the art and communications field. There was never anything that fit the mold for what I was seeking. Originally my idea for ArtSee was to combine the communications aspect with an online platform for sale and representation for artists. But in time, and by further exploring what I have wanted ArtSee to be, it is now a leading arts communications firm in DC. We do exactly what I set out to do, work with art, people, communications and events!
KB: What does ArtSee offer that is different from other area-based art consultancies?
EG: ArtSee is not your typical art consultancy, we do advise artists and enthusiasts on best practices but we strive to work individually with members of the art community to incorporate art into their life. We work with artists, restaurants, real estate agencies and other art enthusiasts to promote local and emerging art. What sets us apart is our accessible and affordable approach to everything we do. We work to assist artists specifically within their means to help with submissions, exhibitions, portfolios, marketing and to increase their overall exposure. This is a unique approach and one that you don’t see elsewhere in the other DC arts promotion companies and advocates.
KB: What is the biggest challenge ArtSee faces in the DC arts scene?
EG: The greatest challenge has been really establishing legitimacy in what we do. Being a young entrepreneur, it is often hard for people to grasp the concepts I use in my business, those that work in other big art cities. Art communication firms are not a new concept, but just one that is new to DC and certainly a new concept to artists to have to pay for help in marketing themselves. Getting people to understand that what we do is very different from the nonprofits, galleries and the other arts promoters has been a hurdle, one that we are overcoming every day.
KB: What about the DC arts scene makes you get out of bed in the morning?
EG: If you stay in bed you will surely miss something! DC is growing in unique ways, specifically in a very public and accessible way. Its exciting to see how it is changing and how ArtSee can really make an impact. Getting out of bed in the morning means finding new ways to reach our target audiences and finding new people with whom we can work. Currently we have a lot going on with our temporary exhibitions and that is keeping me very busy and excited right now. My hope is that we can continue to grow and share what we are doing with those in the greater DC community who want to incorporate art into their lives in a very deliberate way. Thinking about ways to make that happen is overwhelming but definitely motivates me.
KB: What advice do you have for other young professional women interested in starting their own businesses?
EG: Do your research! And then do more! It is impossible to know and predict everything going into something like this but to know as much as you can before getting into your field is important. I also am a big believer in networking, and using your networks properly. Don’t be afraid to have conversations and ask very deliberate questions, the worst answer you’ll hear is no. People can be a very powerful part of starting your business and getting them energized, excited and involved in what you are doing goes a long way, especially in DC. I think the last piece is to not give up, it’s going to be hard but push until you can’t push anymore!
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