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Learning the Business Side of Art

Customers crowded into the Pop-Up Shop during the opening reception on Feb. 21.

Students in the University of Hartford’s Hartford Art School (HAS) learn not only how to enhance their artistic skills but also how to make a living from the art they create. A new experience in the business of art “popped up” when the art school opened a Pop-Up Shop in West Hartford Center. 

What was previously vacant store space in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square shopping area was transformed temporarily into a cash-and-carry art gallery featuring the work of approximately 30 students, 30 alumni, and several HAS faculty and staff.

Left to right: Lisa Gaumond, managing director of the Joseloff Gallery; Jenna Collins '15; and Jenni Friedman, assistant professor of printmaking, at the Pop-Up Shop in West Hartford's Blue Back Square.

The Pop-Up Shop is the brainchild of Jenni Friedman, assistant professor of printmaking at HAS. She says the concept of a pop-up art gallery is a trend she has seen elsewhere, and she explains that experiences like this teach students new skills in the business of art and how to sustain and promote their careers as professional artists.

“They [the students] prepared their art and filled out paperwork to submit it by the deadline, they set up the shop and helped arrange all the artwork, they have worked there waiting on customers and answering questions, and they also helped out at the opening reception.”  In addition to getting a better idea of what is involved in the business of art, the students also receive 70 percent of the proceeds from the sale of their art. The remainder goes to the HAS senior graduation event fund.

Jenna Collins, a senior illustration major, is planning a career in scientific illustration after graduation. She worked in the shop and says she learned from the interactions.  “The West Hartford community is very supportive of local art, and it’s great to see that they like your art and will buy it.”

HAS dean Nancy Stuart says the shop has been “wildly successful” and the school may repeat the business experience again in the holiday shopping season.

See video of the Pop-Up Shop from NBC CT and WFSB 3.