Growing an Art Gallery to $150,000/month

The Story of Station 16

Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?

Hi, my name is Adam Vieira, and I’m the creative director for Station 16 Gallery, a contemporary art gallery in Montreal heavily influenced by graffiti and street art.

We showcase original art, sculptures, and works on paper, which changes every month, sometimes every week. We also launch a new limited edition silkscreen print every month with international artists.

station-16-main

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I met Carlo De Luca (my partner and current president of Station 16) in 2010. I was very active in the Montreal street art scene and had many artist connections because of it. Coincidentally, he was also looking to diversify his textile silkscreen shop into paper printing, which I had been doing a lot of.

In 2011, we started working with local Montreal artists to create quality silkscreen prints - a type of printing made famous with Andy Warhol's work. We began showcasing these prints online and in art fairs. That’s when Emily Robertson (3rd founder, and Art Historian) came on board. She had taken an interest in our project and suggested we open an art gallery showcasing the prints and street art talent we were really interested in.

Shortly after that, a few other friends that we were in contact with were building on the idea of a Mural festival for Montreal. They asked if we would be interested in supporting it. So in June of 2013, we debuted at both the Gallery and the Montreal MURAL festival on St. Laurent. It initially opened as a pop-up, and we haven’t closed our doors since.

Describe the process of building the business.

Station 16, the print shop, had already existed for many years when Carlo and Myself met, however, there was no logo, no website, not even a business card.

All these things took shape in 2013, I designed the logo that we still use today, and we used a new platform for the website that Carlo suggested. This platform was being built by an old friend of his, and it was called Shopify.

Be ready to work 24/7. If you can’t make your business your entire life, it will be that much more difficult.

We began using Facebook and Instagram to document the entire project. After we launched the website, we started directing people from the social media accounts to the website. Since we were working with so many artists, all of which had social media accounts as well, we asked them to share our website as a place to buy their work. We also did a lot of events, any street fair or art event that was happening in Montreal or New York, we were there.

How have you attracted customers and grown the business?

Instagram has been a huge part of our success, as our visual media really let us reach an international market, and document our journey along the way.

Recently we hired an SEO company, which is rebuilding our site and using more Facebook strategies to engage new clients.

We also showcase art on websites like Artsy to attract new collectors from all over.

How have you dealt with competition?

Competition has been a great thing for us, it’s brought more attention to the genre of art we showcase, giving it more credibility.

Where are you at now and what are your plans for the future?

We are now opening a new show every month at our Montreal Gallery, and in May we’ll be opening our second location in Denver, Colorado. Things are moving fast and we are going international.

Pantone Gallery Shot

These days I find myself often thinking about the democratization of art. I love the exhibition and art installations we take part in, but our biggest success has been from the prints we sell and I love the fact that it's been a great way to get new collectors into the art scene!

I’d love to see Station 16 print stores as a franchise. There is a lot of work involved in something like that, but this new gallery in Denver could be the start of it.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We use a variety of management tools, like Basecamp and Trello.

We also use Google Suite, MailChimp, Instagram, and Facebook.

Our online store is powered by Shopify.

What books, podcasts, or online resources have been influential for you?

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Be ready to work 24/7. If you can’t make your business your entire life, it will be that much more difficult.

I’ve planned vacations around networking trips, brought my fiancé on work trips, worked late nights and into the weekend. We never said ‘no’ to any opportunity, say yes and figure out the rest as you go along.

Where can we go to learn more?

Want to start your own business?

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- pat-walls Pat Walls, Founder of Starter Story


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