Aboriginal Artist and Award Winning Gallery Owner-Entrepreneur
By Cassandra Daniels, Aboriginal Youth Media Team member and Kristin Kozuback, Editor of RedWAY BC News
One of the goals of our current AYM Team project is to gather and share successful Aboriginal role models. That's why I think you' d like to learn about Alano Edzerza, an ambitious Aboriginal youth that has made his love for art become a business reality.
This young artist is a successful gallery owner, flourishing entrepreneur, and a recognized community leader. Alano is from the Tahltan Nation
– a First Nations community that spans the northwestern area of what is now British Columbia and encompasses the legendary Stikine River
and its tributaries. See map for details
Alano lives and works in Vancouver, BC where he creates and sells North West Coast Art. He has been an Aboriginal small-business owner since February 2008. He moved quickly from studying in a Bachelor of Arts program and selling his Art on the side to help pay for his education into buying a gallery. It's located near the wonderful tourism destination and local favourite hangout at Granville Island at 1536 West 2nd Avenue in Vancouver, British Columbia. It is quite an interesting connection that he had with his ownership today clearly it was right in his direction all along.
Alano is a very humble person with a great talent; you can walk into his gallery and feel the freedom of expression in each and every piece. The youthful vibe is prominent in his space as he brings a comfortable ease that fills his gallery.
“Many people don’t know that we exist... we're almost like fairy tale characters.
Showcasing our art and doing things in society shows that we are still here.”
I asked him where he gets inspired to do the pieces he does and his response was, “the history of other artist’s work and to study the old pieces.” I asked Alano what the significance of showcasing Aboriginal Art meant to him he responded saying that “many people don’t know that we exist... we're almost like fairy tale characters. Showcasing our art and and doing things in society shows that we are still here.”
Edzerza Gallery is vibrant to the North West Coast beautiful traditional designs and signature style. I asked Alano why he had decided to go from a business owner to owning his own small business. He replied by saying, “it seemed like the next step as well as the opportunity was there”. The transition fit his artistic movement and need for personal freedom.
The hardest part of owning his own business at such a young age is the huge overhead that he faces, although he “believes in the art” and knows that people want to purchase authentic art from someone who takes the time to learn and re-tell the story behind each piece.
Althoug there's a lot of great things he does as an independent artist and owner, he does not do it all on his own. Alano has four full time staff that work within Edzerza Gallery, some of whom I was pleased to meet. He has a team of staff that do all the inside business to keep his gallery running smoothly. These people work with him to keep the revenue growing for his company, the artists he represents and for the name “Alano Edzerza”.
Here are some questions asked of Alano in an interview
Q: What are your goals & ambitions as an Aboriginal business owner?
A: “To be a part of the movement of artists - young & old.”
Do you feel it is important to be recognized as an Aboriginal artist? Do you promote this side of your work?
A: “Yes, with the intent of being serious about what you are doing. It's important to make choices and statements that reflect who you are and where your art comes from. That can be what makes you unique!"
Q: In the Aboriginal BEST Business and Entrepreneurship Skills Training program, we learned a lot about studying the competition. Do you know about other galleries selling Native art?
A: “Yes, it makes good business sense to know about my competition, although I believe that there is enough for wonderful Native art for everyone. I have a very clear focus to represent them (Native artists) in the best way possible. Overall, we all need to work together to increase the number of artists and our profile."
Q: What advice would you share with other potential business owners?
A: “Be prepared - do your market research and revise your plans. Also be sure of what you choose - especially for artists looking to sell and promote other artwork - owning a gallery can help to advance your career or it might conflict with what you are starting to build for yourself”.
What do you say about what some might see as a confilct between Aboriginal family and community values and independent business values?
A: “I know that some Aboriginal communities struggle with the negative side of power and ethics in business of mainstream society. We can still maintain strong values in doing ethical business... but you have to be connected to your roots, be clear on your goals, stand with confidence when you need to make a stance, then know and understand where you come from.”
Check out this information and the video on Alano Edzerza
· Email him at director@EdzerzaGallery.com
· Visit the website at www.EdzerzaGallery.com
· Watch a short video of our interview at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRXw6QdHHh0
Meet the Arts & Culture Section Editor
is 20 years old. She's a Plains Cree native that acknowledges her roots in the Saddle Lake First Nation Community.
INTERACT WITH REDWAY...
Are you an artist? What is your inspirational story of artwork? Do you have any traditional stories shared with you by an Elder or grandparent or knowledge keeper? Would you like to have your story posted?
Contact me if you want to get an artist profile done, have a success story to share, or want to send info for an arts and culture events list. E-mail me at arts(at)spiritlinking(dot)com