Since opening her gallery in January of 2017, Mauldin has had a singular mission: to grow the careers of Dallas artists. But despite achieving success and visibility in her local community, Mauldin wanted to expand her reach even further.
She’d used digital tools before but found that they were time-consuming and unwieldy. So, how did Jen Mauldin Gallery gain quality exposure beyond Dallas for her artists while still engaging local collectors? And how did Artsy help along the way?
About Jen Mauldin Gallery
Jen Mauldin took a different path to becoming a gallery owner. Earning a degree in architecture at Texas A&M University, Mauldin first built a career in interior design. “Opening my own gallery was a 20-year dream,” she says. “I interviewed for gallery assistant positions when I was much younger, but figured out that was not going to…be able to pay my bills.”
Inspired to act upon her passion for artists, especially those local to Dallas, Mauldin opened Jen Mauldin Gallery in 2017 alongside her husband, James, who helps oversee gallery operations. The gallery works in a variety of media, from bronze sculptures to pop culture paintings to mixed-media works.
In the run-up to opening her gallery, Jen Mauldin benefitted from a few advantages. From her work as a designer, she had solidified relationships with galleries and artists. A year prior to her January 2017 brick-and-mortar gallery opening, she started a monthly newsletter, with each edition featuring a new artist. This enabled her to generate publicity and build a roster months before collectors entered the new gallery space.
Despite these early successes, Mauldin sought to leverage digital tools in order to better engage customers in person, promote inventory that wasn’t currently on display, and expose her artists to a vast network of online collectors.
Artsy is just a lifesaver in the time saved and how we were able to focus on the clients, as opposed to the backend of preparing things for the clients.
James Mauldin, Jen Mauldin Gallery
1. Partner with an online platform that’s gallery-friendly
When Jen Mauldin Gallery began exploring options for bringing the gallery online, Jen and James quickly realized they would need a platform that facilitates seamless interaction with prospective buyers online. While Jen and James initially used 1stdibs, they eventually found the Artsy platform to be more gallery-friendly. “We love that [we] can instantly send information on a piece of work while we’re in conversation with patrons,” Jen says. “With Artsy, it’s easy to create a group of works to send off to designers to share with their clients. We also really love that Artsy shows our current shows in the gallery to its online user base. In fact, it’s become our go-to for Online Exclusive shows.”
Artsy’s Online Exclusive shows enable galleries to curate shows on the platform by highlighting works on their Artsy profiles. These shows, which exist only online, are featured on Artsy’s Shows page, and offer collectors from around the world the unique opportunity to experience a group of curated works from anywhere.
“Once we started with Artsy, it was like, ‘Wow, this just saved us so much time,’” says James. “We don’t have to take a photo of [a work] and put all of this information together in order to print and send it. Artsy is just a lifesaver in the time saved and how we were able to focus on the clients, as opposed to the backend of preparing things for the clients.”
Gallery partners on Artsy each receive a dedicated gallery page on the platform, enabling galleries to promote their entire inventory online. This includes everything from the individual artists you represent, with their biographies and works for sale, to events, shows, exhibitions, and articles. Gallery pages not only make it easy for collectors to browse inventory and inquire, they also allow gallery partners to benefit from Artsy’s exceptional search engine optimization (SEO), which helps Artsy-affiliated pages rank higher in search results.
2. Make your gallery program accessible and approachable to collectors
Since its founding, Jen Mauldin Gallery has prioritized openness and transparency for its collectors. Taking advantage of the many tools Artsy offers, the Mauldins have used Artsy Folio to share information about their artists’ works—inside and outside the gallery.
Folio is an iPad and iPhone app that works as a business tool for galleries. It allows you to host high-quality images of your gallery’s inventory so that you can show collectors the available inventory when you’re on the go, and easily send clients pieces via email.
Aware of current trends in digital technology, the Mauldins saw a way to leverage Folio in order to heighten collectors’ experience in their brick-and-mortar space. Two sets of kiosks with tablets equipped with Folio are stationed in the gallery, so that prospective buyers can peruse the full inventory and learn more about the collection on their own. James and Jen also carry tablets with the Folio app installed when they go to speak with collectors browsing the gallery. “We walk around with them, so that way, when we’re talking to somebody about a piece, we can easily show them all the information,” says James.
According to James, this makes collectors feel more comfortable in the space, making the inquiry and buying process easier. “We just sold a piece a couple of weeks ago. These people—they were a younger couple—came in while waiting for a dinner reservation, and they saw a piece they liked and went on the tablet and emailed themselves about the work,” he recalls. “Several months later, they came back wanting to see all the works by that artist again, and a few months later, they purchased a piece.”
Because Artsy Folio is a mobile platform, that same kind of outreach is available outside the gallery. As James explains, “There have been times when we’ve been out and about with friends, and they’ve asked us a question about another piece of art by an artist they are already familiar with. On the spot, we’ve used Folio to send them the information directly from our phone. It’s been amazing.”
3. Put your artists in front of a global audience
Though Dallas has a thriving arts community, Jen Mauldin wanted the gallery’s reach to extend even further, which she’s been able to accomplish using Artsy. “We’ve sold several pieces to collectors out of state,” observes James, “to California, Colorado, Ohio, and New York—those are the places I can recall off the top of my head. These are all random, spur-of-the-moment sales. We hadn’t even connected with these people—they just found something through Artsy that they loved.”
Artsy has also proved to be a highly effective marketing tool for the gallery, engaging an audience that doesn’t typically walk by the brick-and-mortar space. “We’ve also had inquiries from people in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, and hospitality designers in Japan,” James notes. “They don’t necessarily contact us through Artsy, but they say, ‘Hi, we’ve found you on Artsy,’ and because of that, they’re able to start a dialogue with us.”
By having a website and an Artsy profile, Jen Mauldin Gallery reaches prospective buyers 24/7—even when the gallery is closed. “With Artsy, our artists are in front of a world audience all the time, because there are people constantly around the world who are looking at Artsy,” James says. “One can easily follow an artist they are interested in or click on a piece that catches their eye, and by doing so, Artsy automatically generates and shows collectors which artists and works are similar.”
This level of visibility is especially important given Jen Mauldin Gallery’s commitment to supporting emerging artists and helping to establish their careers. One example of this, James recalls, was a sculpture exhibited at the gallery in 2017. “We debuted an amazing 13-foot-tall sculpture last year by Hobbes Vincent, called The Horse,” he says. “When we opened the show, we noticed that we had an incredible amount of traffic to our website and to Artsy through the photos of the piece that were shown in personal Instagram feeds.”
“The piece got a lot of inquiries from all over the world,” remarks James. “The fact that it had all the information available through Artsy really benefited us. It brought in people from multiple places to come and take a look at his show and into our gallery because they saw it online.”
With Artsy, our artists are in front of a world audience all the time, because there are people constantly around the world who are looking at Artsy.
James Mauldin, Jen Mauldin Gallery
4. Bring your gallery into the future
Today, artists need more than just a website and a social media page—they need to establish themselves among qualified communities of art enthusiasts and collectors.
“Most [collectors] have been really transparent about how they’ve found us,” James notes. “It’s usually by searching [for] a type of art, and it’s usually through Artsy. Artsy’s search platform has really helped us out—it’s probably better than some of the other methods.”
Not only does Artsy provide visibility, it also facilitates the option for transaction. “[Collectors] may have found [artists or our gallery] through social media, started following us, searched for Jen Mauldin Gallery on Google, and through that, found Artsy, and were able to look at everything and go from there,” says James.
“Having our Artsy page linked [on] our website has been really beneficial,” he continues. “It helps us get more followers for the artists, and we’re able to track with Artsy’s emails which pieces people look at the most per month. We love getting that information.”
Perhaps most importantly, being on Artsy instills confidence in Jen Mauldin Gallery’s artists. “Artsy plays a role in increasing the awareness and success of our artists,” Jen explains. “Emerging artists see Artsy as a milestone in their career, establishing their presence online in a way that is respected among collectors. From the beginning, I saw that Artsy was set up to successfully carry galleries into the future by placing reputable works and artists online, for the world to see all the beauty artists have to offer.”
What’s next for Jen Mauldin gallery?
Jen Mauldin will continue to fulfill her mission of exposing local artists to an international audience. Currently, the gallery is operating exclusive online while Jen and James search for a new brick and mortar space that will accommodate the gallery’s needs as it evolves and grows. By using Artsy, Jen and James been able to engage customers in-person, promote work that’s not on display and reach a qualified audience of collectors online. The results are invaluable.
As James says, “The Artsy platform allows our artists to be seen through multiple channels depending on the viewer and how they choose to interact with the application that goes far beyond our gallery walls.”