Caiger Contemporary Art is the mother and daughter team with the mission of bringing affordable art into everyone’s home!
Being successful entrepreneurs in the artworld is a wonderful achievement. Who or what inspired the formation of Caiger Contemporary Art?
Art has always played a big part in our lives, especially contemporary, abstract art. Amy’s background is History of Art, Public Galleries and Marketing. Carol’s is Events and Project Managing, so between us we felt we had a lot of useful skills! Being Mother and Daughter, there are no surprises, we mainly like and think the same things, so it makes working together fun. 5 years ago we were both at certain points in our careers, so we decided to bite the bullet and put our love of art and skills to the test and set up our own business!
Looking back over the years, what particular element stands out as your / your company’s proudest moment?
We have been lucky enough to be involved in some great projects! The one that stands out the most is when we started as Gallery In Residence in at Le Meridien Piccadilly. We had a very short time scale to curate and install large exhibitions in their wonderful Terrace Restaurant, Spa Area, Foyer and Member’s Bar. It was a big ask for us, our artists and our installers, but we did it! When everything was installed and we stood back and looked at what we had achieved – it was a real Wow moment for us!
How do you structure your time over a typical day?
We are both great list makers and planners! If we are not meeting up with clients together, we usually work separately and meet up in person or ‘virtually’ once or twice a week. This is when we have a brainstorming planning meeting or just our regular catch up meeting. There is always a lot of work to do so we are always very careful with time management. The best feeling is at the end of the week when we have lots of actions crossed through on our lists. Along with lots of happy clients and happy artists !
Where and how do you work at your best?
As said before we work well together, both bringing different elements to the table! We work best when we are bouncing ideas off each other. Whether it is at the beginning of a project when it is all very exciting, or whether it is at the end of a project when all the last bits are coming together and we have a deadline.
What office tools do you find indispensable for accomplishing your day-today typical tasks? (software, advice, physical thing, whatever)
We couldn’t be without our Daily Greatness Business Planners for planning our time and our old fashioned White boards! Using Ryver helps us to communicate with each other instead of sending and receiving endless emails. Asana is used for Project based information. As well as all the usual, Google, Drop Box, One Drive, Canva, Pixlr, Mailchimp, ZoHo for our day to day office practice.
Would you have done anything differently if you knew 10 years ago, what you know now?
Yes, started a few years earlier! Sometimes if you have too much knowledge at the beginning, you may not take a chance and think maybe things through too much. So, we are great believers of ‘anything is possible’ and ‘you learn by your mistakes’. To have a successful business we think it is always better to get there through experience – good or bad!
What’s the best advice you ever received?
We always like to work to ‘If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well’. In other words, always give your best. To us, it doesn’t matter if we are working with a client who is buying their first print, or if we are part of a big project sourcing a whole house full of artwork. Both are equally important and will be done to our high personal and business standards.
Who, either in the design world or the art world, both here in the UK and abroad, are and remain your biggest influences?
Difficult, question – there are so many! With regards to artists, Carol’s love of colour is definitely influenced by Titan, because of the fabulously rich colours he used. A contemporary favourite is Cornelia Parker, especially ‘Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View’. Her work is so original and inventive and so rich, visually. Designer wise, Carol loves the Retro influences of Robin & Lucienne Day, particularly the homeware and textiles of the 50’s and 60’s.
Amy loves the bold, coloured pieces of the Abstract Expressionists such as Rothko, Still or Newman. There is something so calming about these large works and you can stare at them for hours.
What is still your biggest challenge within your own business?
Like any small business, the challenge is always to get more people to know about us.
What’s your best advice for handling a tricky situation or client?
If there is a tricky situation unfolding, try to look at the situation from all sides, without any emotion. Obviously, the client is always right! However, that doesn’t mean that we cannot offer good, sound, honest advice for them to ponder. Even if they don’t really want to hear it! The trick is to evaluate the project or client and read the road ahead. This gives you the chance to act accordingly before it becomes a tricky situation.
What is your trick to unwinding?
As all business owners know, you never really, totally, switch off from work! However, we do try to have a cut off time in the evenings or at weekends. Wine always helps of course! We feel that as our working world is very visual and creative, it does actually work well to have completely work free/art free times! This allows us to be able to keep that creativity going. Amy plays sport – either touch rugby or athletics training and Carol likes to curl up with a book.
What do you find are your Interior Designer clients biggest stumbling blocks?
Working with Interior Designers is very often a long timescale project. We find that the biggest stumbling block for them is their client! Providing artwork for an interior design project is often difficult for the Designer. This is because they might know that a particular artwork would be perfect to enhance their project. However, the client has to love the artwork too! Sometimes the two just do not come together!
What are the best ways you’ve found to help them overcome these issues?
We try to give as much information about the artwork and artist to the Designer and their client as we can. Caiger are happy to get involved as little or as much as the Designer would like. We are happy to visit the client on their behalf to discuss artwork. Or even to take artwork to their client for them to see it in their own home. The more information we know about the client, their likes and dislikes etc the better advice we can offer.
What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover! When exhibiting at an art fair or at one of our pop up exhibitions, one can never tell who is going to be interested in buying an artwork. Or even, who will become someone to collaborate with! Life is full of surprises!
What do you find are your client’s biggest stumbling blocks and what are the best ways you’ve found to overcome them?
With individual clients, we would say that the biggest stumbling block is them wondering whether an artwork would fit in with their existing artwork or decor. We try to get as much information about their room and space as possible and give them background information and advice on the artwork. Sometimes the client just needs a bit of reassurance that they are choosing the right artwork for them.
How do you balance work and family demands?
Well, the main work/family balance is that when we are together outside of work we do not spend all our time talking about work! It is difficult, to us it might be a quick catch up on a situation, but if we are out as a family, including John (husband/dad) and Lucy (daughter/sister) then we have to make sure it doesn’t turn into a business meeting! Consequently, we try not to talk about ‘family’ things when we are working! We are getting better at balancing this!
What’s next for you and Caiger Contemporary Art?
We have always been amazed by the way our work has evolved over time! Obviously we do a lot of forward planning, but it can be very serendipitous too! We have always been very supportive of our emerging artists and have helped them plan their careers and offered advice. This has evolved in Amy becoming more involved in helping them with marketing themselves as small businesses. Although we have individual clients who buy one off artworks, our client base is becoming more project lead. Either through providing artwork for Interior Designers or Design projects of our own. It is very exciting to be at the beginning of a project, whether large or small, and contributing to make everything in that project come together. The job satisfaction is huge!
If reading about Carol and Amy’s passion for bringing art into everyone’s lives has ignited an interest in you, please check out our Design Exhibitions blog to read which events to head to this Spring to check out the latest Design trends and artwork!
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