Missy Graff is an emerging Art Jeweler who graduated with her MFA from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She has worked at Gallery Loupe in Montclair, NJ and was a Gallery Manager for the Heidi Lowe Gallery in Rehoboth Beach, DE. Missy is currently gaining curatorial experience through an internship in the jewelry department at the Museum of Arts and Design.
Klimt02 has both an online platform for the art jewelry community and a gallery located in Barcelona, Spain. It is owned by Amador Bertomeu and Leo Caballero and has become an influential and informative source of information for everyone interested in contemporary jewelry. In this interview, Amador and Leo, speaking as one, provide us with insight into the development of their business.
Missy Graff: Can you describe the area of Barcelona where you and your gallery are located? What are the contemporary jewelry highlights?
Klimt02: We are located in a neighborhood of Barcelona that we like, called Gràcia. Our perception of Barcelona is that it is a city always looking abroad and that makes a difference in the way we think and work.
It would be possible to do our work in the capital of many other countries, so we do not think about the city as something immovable for our work. We like the idea of open borders, making connections, and international collaborations.
What is your background? What led you to become involved in contemporary jewelry?
Klimt02: Our backgrounds are not directly related to jewelry but to creative fields such as painting and sculpture. We had different careers but we coincided on one thing: the creative potential of the jewelry artists and the contemporary art jewelry scene in general. We felt that some of the works were much more interesting than contemporary works in other artistic fields.
I understand you created the Klimt02 website before you opened the gallery. What was the goal?
Klimt02: We launched our website, Klimt02.net, in 2002. Looking back at how the internet was at that time and the lack of information about art jewelry, we were very courageous. Two newcomers doing all of this? We feel that this was a positive aspect for us because we had a different perspective. One of our main goals was to give people access to information to understand what contemporary jewelry was all about. We are still on it!The gallery was opened a few years later, in 2007.
Why did you decide to open a physical space?
Klimt02: We went from the virtual space to the physical space. We thought it would be good for people from our country to have access, without traveling, to work from European countries with a longer tradition. Also, Barcelona is a very attractive city for tourists. It is well known for its design and architecture.
So now you have essentially two businesses. Is that correct? Do they interact?
Klimt02: We have a brand, which is Klimt02, and as a company we work on different lines: the internet platform, the gallery, and the publishing. Since all of these are connected, we will not say we are 1, 2, or 3 businesses. All of it is Klimt02, each part is interacting with the others.
Where are most of your clients from? Are most of them repeat customers? How do you develop new clients?
Klimt02: We are not so concerned about where the clients come from. We are much more interested in having a fluid relationship with them. We always work internationally, so there are not really distinctions between them. Repeat customers? Yes, you could say that. However, our clients also collect work from other galleries abroad. This is really interesting to us because our clients know what they will find, and where, whether it is here or at another gallery. The range of works is very diverse, so it creates a more dynamic market. We can not say there is a formula, sometimes they find us and sometimes we find them.
What percentage of your overall jewelry sales are from your online presence vs your over-the-counter sales?
Klimt02: The online presence is very important if you want to work with the international market. It is not just that you can sell online, it is also that clients know you because they found you through the web. For example, there are people buying art at auctions through their phones. Physical presence is not absolutely necessary. In that case, trust is very important for selling abroad. The visitors who come into the gallery are often people who have already followed us on the internet for many years and we get to meet them when they visit Barcelona.
Do you represent different artists in your online gallery than at your physical location?
Klimt02: We do not have an online gallery; we guess you mean the internet platform, what we call the Klimt02 community.
How do you choose your artists? Please describe the kind of work you are looking for.
Klimt02: We look at the development of the artist’s work, past and present, and if we can see the work developing in the future, then the percentage of work we accept from the artist is higher. Also, the feeling of the pieces is important, usually we both agree when choosing new work.
Are there any artists you really believe in that you are having a hard time finding an audience for? Would you give an example?
Klimt02: The goal of gallerists is exactly this: to find an audience for the artists you believe in. It is just a matter of time if the work is good. The audience’s knowledge of the field is also important. Anyone can increase their knowledge of the field, we learn more every day.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned about the art jewelry community since beginning your involvement with it?
Klimt02: There are two things we have learned: the importance of working professionally and that there are still many things to do.