Ann Priftis is thoroughly dedicated to the arts. A dealer of fine art, representative of both visual and performing artists and the founder/director of Clark Priftis Art, Ann is at the helm of a comprehensive fine art firm. The services she offers range from corporate collection management to professional appraisals and the handling of private sales. Ann is proud to be an ASA-trained appraiser with eighteen years of experience primarily working in New York City and Washington D.C.
Over the course of her career, she has worked with big-name corporate clients including Ameriprise Financial, Fox and Rothschild and White and Case. Moreover, Ann served as the Head of Art for NYC’s immensely popular “The Faberge Big Egg Hunt” in 2014. These eggs included works by Jeff Koons, Pat Steir, BHQ Foundation, Krink, DFace, and many more. Due to the sales of these eggs, more than $2.5 million was raised for charity. Clark Priftis Art participates as exhibitors and collection advisors in numerous art fairs including Architectural Digest Home Design Show, Art Basel, artMRKT Hamptons, Art Palm Springs, SOFA Chicago, among others. Moreover, Ann joined Amazon in Spring of 2015 as Senior Manager, Business Development for Amazon Art and advised the Baycrest Foundation in Toronto on their first annual Baycrest Brain Project exhibition featuring works by prominent international visual artists.
Yet Ann is not only interested in fine visual arts. As her career evolves, she is taking on an interest in performing artists such as a hip-hop star known as TT the Artist and she plans on branching out into the performing arts and/or live events much more in 2017 and beyond. Recently, she spoke to AXS about her career and her plans for the future:
AXS: How did you get interested in representing artists?
Ann Priftis (AP): I've always loved art and as a child of two professional graphic designers working at agencies in NYC, I was surrounded by art and artists growing up. The only problem is that I wasn't a terribly gifted artist myself. When I went to college, I majored in art history and quickly learned I loved understanding the relationship between art, culture and history. I quickly realized I wasn't cut out for writing research papers or the college lecture circuit. But, when I began interning my freshman year at a gallery in DC specializing in 19th/20th century oils, I realized I had finally found my place in the art world ... I became obsessed with the business of art.
AXS: You represent visual artists and musical artists. What are the differences in how you represent these differing art forms?
AP: For almost fifteen years, I have represented visual artists in various stages of their careers. Only this past year, have I started representing a handful of musical artists. The artists I work with are all passionate about their craft, regardless of the medium. They take their artistic process seriously and as such, need guidance, attention, patience, and honest critical feedback from an agent like myself. While there are some similarities between booking performances and arranging art exhibitions, the processes can be very different. Thinking one step ahead in terms of both potential pitfalls and potential opportunities are the common denominators with both musical performers and visual artists.
AXS: How many artists do you currently represent overall?
AP: At any given time, I can be working with up to fifty artists. The fine art landscape has changed in regards to how artists and galleries/managers work together. Where exclusive arrangements used to be the norm, they are now discouraged; these prohibitive agreements prevent artists from gaining the exposure they need to propel their careers. What's most effective now is building strong relationships with artists who can be called upon for specific commissions, exhibitions, opportunities and projects.
AXS: What have been some of the biggest milestones that you and your artists have achieved?
AP: Certainly, becoming the Head of Art for the Faberge Big Egg Hunt in 2013 was a milestone moment for me and my artists, many of whom were included in the project. As the largest public art exhibit in the history of the City of New York, The Big Egg Hunt resulted in massive exposure for the 275 artists (including Jeff Koons, Zaha Hadid, Krink, Pat Steir, etc.) selected to participate and raised over $2.6MM for charity. This past Spring, TT the Artist, one of the musical artists I manage, performed at Coachella to a sold-out crowd; this was a milestone moment for her as a performer and for me as a manager. Coachella was on TT's bucket list and it was amazingly gratifying to see her achieve a goal like that. Currently, an artist who I have represented for about six years, Abby Modell, has a custom installation in Bloomingdale's holiday windows at their NYC flagship. Again, it was a wonderful feeling to help an artist achieve a career goal!
AXS: How do you choose which artists to represent? Essentially, what do you look for in an artist?
AP: The main thing I look for in an artist is a commitment to their craft. I am only interested in working with artists who treat their practice as their full-time profession and passion. I look for high quality, finished work. Each piece must be gallery-ready, professionally executed and finished. I'm focused on finding artists with a unique vision ... their overall body of work must be consistent in quality and his or her unique aesthetic representative in each piece. I avoid artwork that is pieced together, derivative, and repetitive.
AXS: What are your ultimate goals for your career?
AP: I've been so lucky in my career in terms of being involved in a variety of projects that have challenged me and allowed me to continue to grow as a dealer and agent. My ultimate goal is to help bring great art to more of the population; whether that's through managing street artists who are painting large scale murals, or through curation of public art exhibitions or by working with companies like Amazon who are democratizing the experience of buying and selling of art. My goal is to be an integral part of bringing more high quality art to more people.
AXS: What advice can you offer to creative people who want to seek an agent?
AP: If you're an artist who is looking for representation, make sure you know why. Why do you want to, at this point in your career, hire someone to help? Is it to grow your brand recognition; is it to sell more work; is it to have access to specific venues, brands, or opportunities, etc.? Also, know the answer to: “Where do you want to be in five years?” Some artists don't want to become a household name; they feel wide spread popularity may jeopardize their uniqueness or authenticity while other artists want their work to reach as many people as possible. As an artist, being able to express your career aspirations and motivations, not just through your work, but in dialogue with others, can help ensure you and your manager are a good match and that you’re working towards common goals.
AXS: What has been the most rewarding part of working as an art dealer and presenter?
AP: Seeing people who have never purchased a piece of artwork before, suddenly get excited about learning about an artwork or an artist and taking that first big step of buying a piece is so rewarding. I love all things art and getting people excited about art is thrilling for me. This industry affords you access to artworks that many people never have the opportunity to see, let alone interact with. Being able to handle Picassos or get up close to a Manet, is a rush that never goes away no matter how many years you're in the industry. Equally as exciting is discovering an artist who has flown under the radar or whose work has been unappreciated. Bringing that art into the light and watching as other people are able to access the pieces and enjoy the work is immensely gratifying.
AXS: Are there any upcoming events that you would like to mention?
AP: Too many to list! Check my site for announcements of upcoming fairs, exhibits and projects.
* * * * * *