Every now and again we like to shout-out our fellow art aficionados and give credit where credit is due. Enter Art of Choice; an art blog/consultancy started by Olivia Davis in 2015. Originally conceived as a way to just appreciate art, the company quickly grew and now writes about and interviews some of our favorite new artists like Angela HeischHaley Josephs and Danny Ferrell. We recently sat down with their founder Olivia Davis and Executive Editor Maria Vogel to hear about what challenges they face running two very different businesses, what's exciting them currently and where Art of Choice is headed in the future. Take a look at our interview below. 

Every now and again we like to shout-out our fellow art aficionados and give credit where credit is due. Enter Art of Choice; an art blog/consultancy started by Olivia Davis in 2015. Originally conceived as a way to just appreciate art, the company quickly grew and now writes about and interviews some of our favorite new artists like Angela HeischHaley Josephs and Danny Ferrell. We recently sat down with their founder Olivia Davis and Executive Editor Maria Vogel to hear about what challenges they face running two very different businesses, what's exciting them currently and where Art of Choice is headed in the future. Take a look at our interview below. 

36 IMG 7758Founder Olivia Davis and Executive Editor Maria Vogel

Give us a little background, how did you two meet and how/when did Art of Choice come to be?
OD: Growing up in Manhattan, the art world was my playground, literally. Art was always easily accessible— class trips to the Guggenheim and Metropolitan Museum of Art, or merely spending time at friends' homes with notable art collections. I found myself intrigued by art from a young age.

During my senior year at Boston University I started Art of Choice on Instagram. At first, starting AoC was a way to keep my pictures more organized. Slowly, my friends started following the account and I began paying more attention to the feed's aesthetic. In the fall of 2015, I began my postgrad at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, which is where I met Maria. I continued to curate the AoC Instagram feed and eventually what started out as a hobby had amassed to 10k followers. AoC started to build traction and I recognized a niche space for like-minded individuals who wanted to become versed on all things art related in a no-frills, easy-to-understand manner.

I moved to Los Angeles to finish my last semester of grad school and upon graduating, I worked at Moran Bondaroff, David Kordansky and for a private advisor, gradually establishing my own clientele. Shortly after, Maria and I reconnected. We decided to join forces in 2018 and continue to cultivate the AoC brand across several exciting platforms. Art of Choice is the only fine art advisory and art media company that exists. With over 34k followers on Instagram, we have built a content-driven website for these art enthusiasts to migrate to.

MV: I found my way to art in a similar fashion as Olivia though in a very different setting. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh and although the city is far from having its pulse on the art market, it has so many wonderful institutions that I grew up going to. The Andy Warhol Museum, The Mattress Factory, and The Carnegie Museum of Art were my favorite escapes in the city. After graduating from Wake Forest University, I enrolled at Sotheby’s Institute Art Business Program which is where Olivia and I first crossed paths. During and since graduating the program in 2017, I’ve held positions in the gallery, editorial, and curatorial worlds. Early in 2018, I caught up with Olivia and we realized that our skill sets in the art world could really complement each other and grow Art of Choice from just an Instagram page into a full brand. 

Amanda Baldwin Open Window Pear Table Art by Amanda Baldwin

A more accessible, democratic art world means more opportunities for everyone. How does Art of Choice strive to deliver that message and allow for a seat at the table?
OD: Our platform is designed to make art accessible to both new and seasoned art enthusiasts, which is reflected in every piece of content we release. We cultivate a wide and diverse selection of various artists and artworks on our website and Instagram to match the unique taste of our audience.

On the advisory side, we focus on creating a bespoke experience that caters to each client's individual and specific desires - this creates an important intersection point with the content we publish. We advise a range of clients and sell art at all levels, bringing equal focus and attention to our clients, no matter what their price point. In this way, we create a more democratic art experience for everyone involved.

This process is essential to creating the next generation of both world-class artists and collectors, and working with new and aspiring collectors dynamically positions us to grow our advisory business in alignment with the growth of our clients' collections. At the end of the day, if we have the opportunity to use our platform to expose artists to the world and help them grow, that’s a beautiful thing. 

MV: I think that having the two aspects of our company, an editorial platform and art advisory, really work to benefit one another. The attention to detail and genuine care that we put into each article translates into the consultancy aspect of Art of Choice. We love these artists and we want to do whatever we can to further their work. If an article gets them a bit of exposure, we’ve succeeded. If it generates a sale, we’ve been able to take that exposure one step further. In both realms, we are working toward furthering the careers of the artists we love.

Haley Josephs Climb Everyone Mountain Ford Every Stream 2018Art by Haley Josephs

Being that we’re over a month into the new year, who are some of your favorite artists you’ve featured in 2018?
OD: Given the exposure we have to so many great artists, it’s hard to play favorites; however, I recently started collecting and acquired a painting by Amanda Baldwin and Angela Heisch, two artists we featured in the Ladies Choice series. In Amanda’s work, she is recreating the still life to capture a sense of the modern day. You can see this in the painting “Open Window, Pear Table,” which is part of my personal collection. Angela’s use of patterns and symmetry is what initially drew me into the work. She incorporates elements of architecture that allow her to create these beautiful surfaces. When I saw Angela’s work, such as “Adult Resting on a Flower,” I knew I had to have a piece.

MV: Corydon Cowansage, Kristin Texeira, and Haley Josephs are some of the artists I’ve been crushing on this year. Each of these women paint in vastly different ways but they find so much common ground in the themes they are exploring and stories they are telling. They are each badass ladies building up the art world and making it better. As for men, I really love the work of Matthew Wong. He paints beautifully intricate scenes in a style reminiscent of many of the Modern masters. His works evoke a wonderful juxtaposition of both intrigue and melancholy. 

You mentioned Ladies Choice. What is that series about?
MV: Ladies Choice is an ongoing series highlighting female artists working in New York City and beyond. This series stands as a statement to the power and creative force of women in the arts. Women have traditionally received much less exposure and recognition in the art industry. In their support of one another, these women stand as a testament to furthering the careers of female artists.

OD: We have learned so much from the interviews in the series that we want to take it one step forward and create a physical manifestation of the mission behind it.

Kristin Texeira Mt. Tamalpais 2017Art by Kristin Texeira

What challenges do you face with running your consultant business alongside the site? Any unique hurdles you’ve had to overcome?
OD: As I touched on earlier, AoC is differentiated from other advisories and art media companies, because we cover both categories under one brand umbrella. For me, our biggest challenge has been developing our identity as advisors and premium content providers and organically building each line of business with the appropriate independence. This is why our strategy is to spend a large portion of time looking at what is going on in the market and exposing ourselves to a rich and diverse palette of artist s-- it becomes an organic driver for both finding new consulting clients and new enthusiasts who follow our content.

Have you two considered curating at galleries or doing pop-up events? Bringing your content off the web and onto the walls?
MV: Both Olivia and I have had past curatorial projects independent of Art of Choice. After building up the site and gaining some footing in the art world, we’re now at the point where we feel our experience lends itself to curating under the Art of Choice name. We have a lot of ideas floating around for unique exhibitions and Art of Choice branded events and plan to make it one of our top priorities this year - we are really excited about this new venture!

How did Sotheby's prepare you two for the contemporary art world professionally?
OD: Sotheby’s really helped me understand the business side of art and the inner workings of the contemporary art world. The program also provided me with access and great networking opportunities. I’ve learned that in the art world, currency is connections and your reputation is everything.

MV: I don’t think anyone can understand the inner-workings and complexities of the art world, especially in New York, until they are in it themselves. Having Sotheby’s as my entry point and foundation into that world escalated the amount of opportunities that have come my way and the network that I’ve been able to build.

Matthew Wong The Night Watcher 2018Art by Matthew Wong

Collaboration is key with your practice. How do you two work together so well being on opposite coasts? Who does what?
OD: Maria and I have very complementary roles and skills. I focus specifically on the business, sales and operations of AoC and Maria focuses primarily on the creative content and brand partnerships side. We divide up studio visits by the coasts we live on and keep a constant dialogue about what we're seeing. Overall, I also strive to be consistently conscientious of the fact that we’re on different coasts, and work to make even the smallest accommodations to make each other's lives easier. We’ve built an amazing short hand and foundation of trust that is our starting point for all of our work together.

MV: Like Olivia mentioned, our roles overlap and compliment each other but as a whole, we both have a great understanding of realizing what is required of both of us in order to continue growing the company. We both understand the hustle required in order to accomplish our goals and are willing to go the extra mile to get to where we want to be. 

What’s your selection process like, how do you choose your artists for the editorial side? Does Instagram play a large role?
MV: Our editorial content is chosen using a distinct formula. We consciously highlight as many or more female artists than male in our interviews and reviews because as women, we want to see other women given due credit. I would say about 70% of our content focuses on new and emerging artists and the rest is focused on established, well-into-their-careers artists. To me, this balance represents the essence of Art of Choice’s mission: giving a voice to the artist’s on the pulse of the art world while paying homage to the ones who paved the way. Instagram plays an increasingly larger role in our discovery of artists we love. I always say that Instagram’s role in the art world is a double-edged sword. It connects us to artists we might have never otherwise come across, but at the same time doesn’t do the artwork the same justice as seeing it in person, which is why we both go on numerous studio visits each week.

I always like at the end of your interviews, you ask the artist who they’d recommend for your next feature… so I’d like to do that with you two. What art sites or pages most interest you right now? Who’s on your radar?
MV: Both Olivia and I are big fans of the weekly newsletter ArtDrunk. It’s written in a humorous, laid-back tone and features many artists we love and have also covered on our site. I also love and check up on Garage Magazine’s art section, Interview Magazine, Cultured Magazine, Vulture, and the NYTimes art section - a classic - almost every day. 

Angela Heisch Adult Resting on a Flower Art by Angela Heisch

What’s next for Art of Choice? Any cool projects on the horizon for 2019?
OD: Yes, we have some very exciting new projects in the pipeline for 2019! Our first new initiative is to launch a video series that highlights various collectors. We'll focus on exploring their individual roots as collectors, who's in their collection, and why they've made the choices that they have. The plan is to expand this series to artists further down the road-- similar to the way we deliver written content to our audience right now. We are eager to find new and innovative ways to deliver our content and engage our audience, and we believe this video format is the perfect next step for us to expand AoC's existing offering. More to come on this and other projects in development soon!

MV: In 2019, we plan to curate shows under the Art of Choice brand. One in particular that we are thrilled to present is an exhibit highlighting the ongoing series that we mentioned earlier, Ladies Choice. Details are still being hashed out but we plan to have it during Summer 2019 and many of the women we have interviewed for the series will be featured. We are so excited to take our relationship with artists we have featured on the site into a new realm.

Portrait by Shannon Ford
Photos of art courtesy of each artist and CANADA Gallery
Interview by Jessica Ross