Stockholm-based up-and-comer WAY aims to prove that it’s possible to run an art gallery differently
According to co-founder Fransesca Berlin, one way to challenge this traditional business is to work closer with the artists — without taking a too high share of the sales of their pieces.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
March 15, 2022
With a mixed background within real estate, music, project management within the event industry, and the art scene, Fransesca Berlin now runs WAY gallery together with artist and creative director Estelle Graf, creator and photographer Felicia Berlin, and business developer Romina Moradi.
— We opened in central Stockholm in November 2020 and what we thought would be a one-month pop-up turned into a physical and digital gallery that is still up and running, she explains. We are both a physical and digital gallery that represents creators. With different backgrounds and experiences from the same industry, I and my co-founders have all experienced that the possibilities for an artist to be able to live on his or her creation today are few and the compromises to make are many. With this as a basis, the vision has been to create a place that elevates artists as well as exhibits and sells their work.
In a traditional industry, you’re doing things slightly different. How?
— We realized that we needed to create something bigger — a gallery and platform that was welcoming artists and visitors no matter class or target group, where we work together instead of inhibiting each other. The pop-up showed a gap within the art world and society and we now, foremost, highlight up-and-coming creators who want to be more involved in the gallery that represents them. And we aim to find a new way to run a gallery without taking a too high share of the sales of their pieces. That said, we completely understand and respect galleries who work with higher commissions — it is a lot of work running and representing one. We just want to find another way to do it.
You also have your own merch line as well as a strong online presence.
— Yes, we work with building WAY as a persona and a brand that you as a buyer and creator want to be connected to. With the modern community we live in, an online store is a must — not the least after the last two years of isolation. We welcome people to see and experience us both physically and digitally in order to give our viewers and potential buyers a possibility to revisit the artworks multiple times without travelling to our physical place. Some of them might not even have been here.
How’d you describe the situation for young and emerging artists in Scandinavia today?
— I can’t talk for everybody, but the feeling that arises within us and a lot of creators and also visitors we meet is that there is a high threshold to walk into a gallery or be represented, says Berlin.
One of these rising names is Swedish artist and illustrator Madelen Möllard, who currently exhibits Poppies at WAY in Stockholm.
— I make art out of lust and obsession with colours and shapes. Usually, I try not to overthink my artistic work which is a great challenge to me as I often overthink in life in general. That’s probably why I feel so good when painting. It’s relaxing. In my work, I really like to find new colour combinations, be it an insect, the weather, or a plant. Anything really, she says, continuing,
— Poppies is an exhibition loaded with poppy flowers. I started exploring the poppy during the pandemic and then I just couldn’t stop. Flowers have a great role in my life as my mom dedicated a flower to all of her children. My flower was a red rose and my siblings had snowdrop, crocus, and yellow rose. At my sister’s funeral, she wanted it to be filled with gerberas and that flower means a lot to me now as I think about her every time I see one. The flowers follow you from birth to death, that’s just how it is. So, the poppy is just a flower I love and I guess it has become my own expression of joy, life, sorrow, and death.
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