We had the good fortune of connecting with Liz Hernandez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Liz, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
I’ve envisioned an online art venture for a long time and the launching of the website for ARTEZONA Gallery is a manifestation of my vision and love of art. My vision for ARTEZONA Gallery is rooted in my experience as a past owner of two “bricks and mortar” galleries—one in Tucson and one in Scottsdale—where I learned the art business and honed my skills for identifying the technical and creative strengths of a work of art.
Artists are among my favorite people. An important part of my curatorial process has always been to visit each artist’s studio to discover common ground. I love the personal interaction and the opportunity to discuss ideas, concepts, materials, techniques, and art direction. Studio visits also allow for a deeper understanding of each other’s goals and expectations.
Art lovers are among my favorite people too. I really enjoy talking to anyone who loves art and finding a way to connect through art. Whether a novice or expert in the discourse of art, it’s cool to engage and hear people’s perspectives about art.
Over the years, I’ve created meaningful relationships with artists, art buyers, and community stakeholders which in turn led to years of advocacy and service on professional and community boards in support of the arts. Although I closed the galleries and worked for non-profits for a few years, I knew that one day, I’d come back to the art world.
I continued to percolate ideas for a niche online brand in the contemporary art market that would offer intelligently curated art collections by professional artists. I know many hard-working artists personally. Most of whom have devoted their entire lives to refining their concept, visual vocabulary, and technique. I feel strongly about helping to sell their art as I have in the past. I also feel that it is important to vet and display their strongest work, tell their stories, and garner the recognition they deserve.
I also understand that art buyers are not all created equal. There are established and emerging collectors as well as the occasional or one-time buyers. It was important for me to develop ways to communicate with and attract these buyers.
Among the issues that art buyers face is that they’re busy and often need help finding and deciding on a work of art that best suits their living space and existing collection. My solution is to offer ways to streamline their search, free up their time, and guide them in making an informed satisfying purchase.
These are just a few of the ideas that resulted in the creation of ARTEZONA Gallery. It’s been a journey of laborious task management, creative brainstorming, and an unrelenting faith in the process. Our new website is already live and, while it’s still a work in progress, I’m super proud of it: www.artezona.com
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am super proud to introduce you to ARTEZONA Gallery, a boutique online art gallery designed to advance creative expression, support working artists, and offer people a way to live with art. I personally curated each collection featuring original paintings, photography, one-of-a-kind works on paper, and limited edition prints by professional artists. I selected artists’ work based on their verve, originality, and strong technical skills.
I’m also very proud to share their personal stories which help us understand how and why he or she became an artist. These narratives can be found in the “ARTIST IN FOCUS” section on each artist’s page on the ARTEZONA Gallery website.
Admittedly, there are thousands of art-related online sites. The main difference is that –in addition to curatorial discernment– we bring focused personalized engagement to the table along with a smart integrated marketing approach that is cultivated organically. In other words, we’re concentrating on building our niche and calling in our tribe creatively and lovingly with style and integrity.
Our hand-picked collections are easy to browse. It’s like shopping in a curated boutique rather than a big department store. And If you don’t see what you’re looking for on our site, we’ll do the research and find options for you.
At ARTEZONA Gallery, it’s all about relationships that are based on mutual trust, respect, integrity, and transparency. These values are directly instilled by me as I uphold the highest standards of honesty and fairness in all my dealings throughout my career as an advisor to art buyers, art curator, gallery owner, and advocate for the arts.
I’m committed to launching this project in spite of the current economic landscape. Selling and advocating for artists is my life’s passion and I believe that there’s an audience of art buyers for the work by artists that I’ve hand-picked. I know it’s not easy but being successful is never easy – it takes hard work, faith, strength, and perseverance. I also think that the online art market is a great place to be and is positioned for enormous growth.
According to industry research, the online art market in 2019 was $4.8 billion dollars with an average annual growth rate of about 5%. While these figures are good, what has yet to be measured is the significant spike in online ART sales in the first half of 2020 which may be due in part to the huge increase in overall online buying during COVID. Experts also agree that there’s been a significant shift in perception, attitude, and participation in the online art market which are drivers for future growth.
Here’s a quote from the authoritative Hiscox Online Art Trade Report: “For most traditional art world operators, the pandemic has exposed an over-dependence on traditional channels (physical art fairs, gallery exhibitions, auctions, etc.) An online presence is more likely now than ever before to keep the art world afloat.” Hiscox also reports that 50% of established art collectors visit online art platforms multiple times per week, and 47% of them purchased art online in the last 12 months.
Moreover, the emerging collectors, mostly Millennials are a growing segment of the art collector base. And 79% of millennial collectors said they bought art more than once in the last 12 months, and one-third of them bought art online using their smartphones for their purchase.
The bright outlook for the online art market is exciting news. While I can’t be all things to all people, with my experience as a gallery owner and art curator along with proper marketing strategies, I believe I can capture a portion of this market. My goal is to grow ARTEZONA Gallery to include artists from around the world, to attract an international audience of art aficionados and collectors, and to become a niche brand in the contemporary art market.
Born in Queens, New York, and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, I’ve lived, worked, and volunteered in Arizona for many years, and I know a lot of people from many cultures and backgrounds. In Tucson, I served on several boards including The Foundation for Creative Broadcasting, Girls Scouts of America, Tucson Pima Arts Council, and Arizona Theatre Company. In Phoenix, I served as a Board member of the Scottsdale Gallery Association, Industry Partner of ASID, member of the Phoenix Art Museum’s Contemporary Forum, and President of the Latin American Art Alliance. I am a lifelong cultural explorer and have traveled and learned about the art, architecture, and culture in various locations in the U.S., Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas.
My art business is important and meaningful to me and the art community. Those who know me can attest that my journey has been driven by my love of art as well as my advocacy for creativity, diversity, change, compassion, and collaborative success.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take them to visit the Tucson Museum of Art and the Old Town Artisans courtyard in downtown Tucson. I think the contemporary art gallery scene in Tucson has seen a decline in recent years but there are still a few local art galleries that I like to support and often take my visiting friends to as well.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My shoutout goes to artists who have devoted their lives to making art, finding their voice, and honing their skills. Their contribution to creative expression is essential to our humanity. I also applaud those who support the arts and help to elevate artists around the globe.