Bryan Yedinak and Mark Pinsukanjana, directors of Modernbook Gallery in San Francisco, tell us a little bit about their daily lives as gallerists and what they love most about their work.
What does a typical day involve?
Bryan Yedinak: Checking email, seeing who wants to buy something!
Mark Pinsukanjana: We do so many fairs, we do eight fairs a year, so we’re constantly getting calls about things people saw in LA, New York, London so dealing with that tends to make up typical day. We also publish books, our artist’s portfolios, so there’s usually plenty to organise for that too.
Pivotal moment for your gallery?
MP: In 2002 one of the artists we represent said to us that we should do an art fair and we thought yeah, that could be fun, so we did. We hadn’t done an art fair before and they were just getting going in the US then. So we did one, and then we did two, then three and it just grew and now we do eight fairs a year.
BY: It really was pivotal because it’s a big part of our business now, it changed the way we worked.
Best thing about doing an art fair?
BY: Interacting with people. You can do so many things online now, you can buy art online, but the face-time is good: they can see the piece, talk about it.
MP: For me, the best thing about doing an art fair is when we sell to the first time buyer. They just get so excited, you can see it in their eyes and they are just so happy. It’s so nice to meet the brand new collectors.
BY: Yes exactly. We were there once, it wasn’t so long ago that we were the first time buyers so now we love it when someone’s like “I just can’t stop thinking about that picture.” We often tell people, especially the first timers, if they’re thinking about a purchase to actually walk away and have a think, so when they do come back you know that it’s really in their head. And nine times out of ten they come back for another piece, because they had a good experience and we were nice. It’s great building that relationship too.
How do you find new artists?
BY: That’s a good question! Typically we get lots of submissions, and we maybe take on one from every 100. It’s a shame, but we just can’t take more, once you start you’re committed to the artists you’ve got. We have this one young artist, who’s Russian, and we saw her work at a show in San Francisco and called her up straight away we loved her work so much.
MP: Yes, actually, it was a show at a university which we found out about in a newspaper, so sometimes it can be entirely by chance.
BY: That’s the thing, we know what we like and we know our clientele so well that when we do see something it’s like right, let’s do this.
MP: I collect something a little bit quirky, I collect monkeys. So I can’t say I have a favourite artist, I’m more image driven. For me art is not about who it’s by, it’s about grabbing you, what the image says to you.
BY: He has a really good collection of monkeys by the way! I love photography, and of course that’s what we sell so that’s not surprising, but I really like Ryan McGinley, Uta Barth and Matthew Brandt.
Favourite part of your job?
BY: Mine is a two part answer, I like working with artists, I like choosing the pieces we are going to show and visiting their studios. Secondly, I like working with the people who take the art home. So the fairs bridge all that, we bring the artists we like, that we think will sell and then connect with the clients here.
MP: Yep same for me! I love building relationships with clients and see them come back year after year. It’s great when they come back to see us and say they’re still so in love with the piece they bought two years ago!