20 Questions with Nuria Madrenas, Founder of Mrkt Gallery

Nuria Madrenas Mrkt Gallery Founder

Meet Nuria Madrenas, the founder of Mrkt Gallery!

Nuria has a background in marketing and communications and has worked with the likes of Holt Renfrew, NARS, and Givenchy. She’s also an illustrator and after recognizing a pretty major gap in the market, she went on to found Mrkt Gallery in Toronto in 2019 with a mission of connecting female artists with consumers. What’s the gap you might ask? In North America, work by female artists accounts for only 2% of art sold. Let that sink in for a moment. To further emphasize the gap, here are some more statistics:

  • In 2018, a 1992 painting from Jenny Saville sold at Sotheby’s for $12.5M USD, setting a world record for a living female artist. This record is only 14% of the record for a living male artist at auction (Jeff Koons’s Rabbit sold for $91.1M). Link
  • According to the Global Art Market Report in 2019, “of the 3,050 galleries in the Artsy database, 10% represent not a single woman artist, while only 8% represent more women than men. Almost half represent 25% or fewer women.” (Note: Artsy is a massive online platform for buying and selling art; they have over 1M works!) Link
  • In 2019, The New York Times reported that “in the past decade, only 11 percent of all work acquired by the top museums [in the United States] was by women” and “Of the roughly 5,800 female artists whose works were acquired, 190 women — or just 3 percent — were African-American”. Link

 

Enter: Mrkt Gallery. Mrkt offers prints, limited edition art and originals from a wonderfully curated group of female artists from around the world. They also give 50% of profits directly to the artists and partner with local charitable organizations that align with Mrkt Gallery’s values. Nuria is focused on helping extend the artists’ reach, and leverages her marketing skills to do so.

I am always on the hunt for great art, and particularly love finding pieces where I can learn a little bit about the artist. I stumbled across Mrkt Gallery a little while ago and fell in love with their mission and artists. The website does a wonderful job of spotlighting the artists – at minimum you’ll find out where the artists are from, and in some cases there is a larger bio including how they got into their craft, a little bit about their aesthetic and mediums, and some background on their inspiration. You can also read short interviews with some of the artists in the Studio Sessions series.

Not sure what piece to add to your collection? Use Mrkt Gallery’s art curation and installation services offered here (more on this below!).

I highly encourage you to take some time to peruse the website and perhaps you’ll be inspired to add one of the incredible pieces to your collection. In the meantime, read on for 20 questions with Nuria!

THE BUSINESS

Tell me a bit about the story behind the creation of Mrkt Gallery.

MN: Mrkt Gallery is an online gallery dedicated to works by female artists. As an illustrator myself, I recognized a gap in the market to provide female artists with a dedicated resource to sell their work and achieve discoverability.

I love that Mrkt Gallery is dedicated to female artists – what prompted this focus?

MN: Work by female artists accounts for a mere 2% of the art sold. As a female artist, this statistic really resonated with me so I sought out to create a platform to celebrate female artists and amplify their work.

How do you find artists? Can any artist be on your platform? If not, how do you choose the artists you SHOW in your collection?

MN: We find artists through a number of resources – Instagram, word of mouth, referrals, etc. We curate the collection of art sold on Mrkt so that it adheres to a particular aesthetic, while still offering our clients a diverse range of works.

Your website states that “50% of profits go directly towards the artist, providing them with an additional revenue stream while they gain exposure to new customers and clients”. Tell me a bit about that. What is the normal industry breakdown?

MN: Several online resources available to artists to sell their work either have a low profit margin for the artist, or are very difficult for the artist to achieve discoverability due to oversaturation on the platform. This is also part of the reason why we carefully curate our collection.

What are ways that you promote artists that are part of your gallery?

MN: Public relations + social media are great promotional tools that drive our business.

What community would you like to see increased representation of in your Gallery?

MN: We are consistently looking to increase the representation of artists from the BIPOC community, as well as LGBTQ+. It is important to us to demonstrate diversity of thought and provide these communities with the same level of resources.

What are the advantages of running an online gallery vs. brick and mortar?

MN: Online is certainly more nimble and allows us to quickly iterate and make changes.

What's a piece or collaboration you’ve done that you’re really proud of?

MN: We have been lucky to work with some iconic brands, including Hudson’s Bay, The Brand is Female and the AGO, all of which are greatly aligned with our vision. [For a limited time, you can shop the AGO X Mrkt Gallery virtual pop up on the Mrkt Gallery home page]

Tell me a bit about your art curation and installation services.

MN: We connect customers with a professional art advisor to thoughtfully curate a collection of works. We encourage them to answer a questionnaire for us to better understand their preferred style, colour scheme and size constraints. By applying our comprehensive knowledge of art curation do’s + don’ts (we call them #houserules), our team will recommend pieces of art that will elevate your collection. After completing the art curation process, we work with professional art installers equipped with laser-guided installation equipment to ensure accurate and meticulous installation.

Why go with Italian-made frames?

MN: We work with a local female-owned business to craft the frames, and she imports her wood from Italy from a trusted manufacturer.

Work by female artists accounts for a mere 2% of the art sold.

mrkt Gallery artists

Learn more about the mrkt Gallery X AGO collaboration here.

mrkt Gallery artists

Figure Study 1 by Toronto-based illustrator Sabina Fenn (shop here). Captured by mrkt Gallery.

rapid-fire with nuria

Do you still create your own art? Is your art available on Mrkt Gallery?

MN: Yes & yes! [Find Nuria’s work here!]

What inspires you?

MN: Art, design, architecture, fashion and music.

What’s your view on buying an original vs. a print?

MN: I truly believe there is nothing like an original piece of art, and I encourage our clients to invest in an original piece as the focal point for their space. Prints are certainly a great (and more cost-effective) option that still has the ability to evoke emotion and complete a space.

Art can be such a personal item – what’s your view on buying art as a gift for someone else?

MN: I think it can be very special and serves as a tremendously meaningful gift.

How many pieces of art do you have in your home?

MN: Too many to count! I have more art than walls.

Any recommendations for curating / styling / setting up an art wall at home?

MN: Mix and match with different mediums. I love to incorporate my favourite vinyl, alongside framed artworks, ceramic plates + other elements to keep a gallery wall dynamic.

Outside of art, what are your favourite things to decorate your home with? Any specific pieces to highlight?

MN: I am loving ceramic vases right now, and am on the hunt for local female artisans to support in this area.

How did you learn the skills to get the gallery website up and running?

MN: Trial and error. I learn best by doing.

Inspiring You to Explore the Middle of Somewhere…

You have international artists in your collection – any places that you’re dreaming to go to?

MN: All of them!

Top place that you’ve travelled to and something in that place that you particularly loved?

MN: My family is from Barcelona, so that will always be my favourite place. There are so many great places, and I feel inspired simply by walking the streets and appreciating the architecture.

mrkt Gallery Lauren Pearson illustrator

Celine by Toronto-based illustrator Lauren Pearson (shop here). Captured by mrkt Gallery.

mrkt Gallery artists

PYNK by Toronto-based illustrator Rachel Joanis (shop here). Captured by mrkt Gallery.

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