I'm pretty confident that the adage "the best things in life are free" was invented purely to explain why Helvetica gives out cheese gratis on Wednesday nights. Another too-good-to-be true thing that I stumbled across last Wednesday (neat) was new gallery space Kinko Piano, run by local artists DAEK William and Zafir. They're showing and selling the works of emerging local artists, and here's the kicker: they're not charging a single cent in commission.
That's pretty unusual: galleries can take around 40 per cent of the selling price of a work. DAEK William explains that dropping the commission makes pieces easier to sell, because artists won't be inclined to over-price their works by inflating their value to compensate for the commission. Plus, it's not entirely altruistic - after working for six years as an artist, he's looking to try his hand at a new skill. "I'd like to meet new people and learn how to sell artwork," he says. "Being an artist I don't know the techniques of selling artwork - I don't know how to tell people what they want to buy. I want to help young people sell their artwork."
Zafir, an emerging artist, says that there are a lot of talented artists coming out of art school, and it's a great opportunity to promote their work. "It's super relevant for me in terms of a developing career," he adds. "It’s a cool platform to be on either side of it – learning how to run it, and having the opportunity to put stuff out myself."
"It's a good way of meeting people," says William, and I think they're talking about me. Sadly, he elaborates that he, in fact, means other artists. "It's quite a lonely sport," he says of being an artist (side note: I knew it was a sport). "You spend a lot of time as a full-time artist by yourself, because it's what needs to be done. So it's good to get out there and have a social circle."
"It relies only on you," Zafir adds of the job. "You can't blame anyone but yourself."
The guys have lined up a gang of six local artists for their first exhibition, which seems to indicate a pretty solid pool of pals. They're all female, they all loosely work with portraiture, and simply, they're all good - according to the guys' trained eyes, which they say favour technical ability. But beyond that, the artists are incredibly varied.
William rattles off some descriptions of the artists: there's Monday, a "smart" and "talented" UWA lecturer and illustrator who creates beautiful, simple, feminine characters; Kim, a "naturally talented" painter who's standing out in Perth for her realistic portraits; fashion illustrator jiiakuann - "it's really cool and unique; I've never seen it before"; Cheeks, whose "cartoony" drawings caught the guys' eyes, as did the fact that she's just 22; Rico Fierce, who takes inspiration from rap culture for her sketchy, illustrative drawings; and Jensen Piccoli, whose drawings look like tattoo designs.
"It's a hand-picked collection of artists I'm inspired by at the moment," William says simply.
The guys say they're trying to fill a niche between high-end galleries and lowbrow street galleries by carefully curating the works of emerging artists, to provide people looking to start their first art collection with some well-priced options. Plus, they're working with local writer and performer Judy Young to bring another dimension to the gallery, with performance art set to feature alongside the artists' paintings.
It's another point of difference for a gallery bucking the trend. "It’s stressful times in the art world," William admits. "Galleries are closing down, and when galleries close down it means art isn’t selling. There’s a bit of a dip in the economy. Not as many walls are being commissioned, there doesn’t seem to be much work out there."
Why start an art gallery then?
"To keep it going," Zafir says. "It's not about the selling of work, it's about the showing of work," William adds. "If we don't sell a painting no one loses."
The first Kinko Piano exhibition opens on Thursday 23 April in the space above the Ellington Jazz Club. For more info about how to either see or consider purchasing the artists' work, head here.
By: Sophie Raynor