The young Spanish entrepreneur Natalia Domínguez and Annie Gentils, the owner of an art gallery in Anterwerp (Belgium), tell us their experiences after working together during three months thanks to an exchange of the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneur (EYE) programme
Being more realistic is the main thing that Natalia, a 26 years old artist from Spain, has learned from Annie, an experimented entrepreneur who owes her own art gallery in Antwerp (Belgium). By working together in Annie’s gallery during three months, they have learned a lot from each other. Although Natalia had been assisting a gallery in Valencia during last year, her commitment in Belgium was bigger and she acquired more knowledge and experience.
She decided to go to Antwerp because she visited a friend who was working in the art field there and afterwards she started to think to go through a similar experience. “When I came here for the first time I realized this city was big enough but small enough at the same time to handle it without problems”, she says. In fact, it’s easier to get contacts in the art field than in a bigger city. After all, this is a very important culture hub in Belgium. Although she doesn’t speak Dutch -the local language- she didn’t have any problem to communicate in English.
Thanks to the Annie’s background, which began in the 80s, Natalia has learned how to mount an exhibition from the very beginning. Thus, she managed to get in touch with the contacts they needed, dealing with other entities and foundations, organizing all the details for the exhibition… In short, she got on-the-job experience in the art gallery. “It’s stressful because you must have everything planned in order to succeed”, she stated.
This exchange has also helped her to be more realistic. She is now aware she cannot run a gallery immediately, as she would need a partner. Therefore, in the following six months she would like to have a new experience in another art gallery to grow up as a professional: “Going out from my country is teaching me a lot both personally and professionally”.
As part of her day to day, Natalia helped Annie on specific matters, like editing flyers and catalogues: “I’m not very good in designing and I still have to learn. In this sense, Natalia has been very useful for the gallery. “For instance, I went to an art fair in October and she made beautiful catalogues to promote the gallery there”, Annie recognizes. In the same way, the Spanish artist also improved the mailing of Annie’s work, which was helpful for the two exhibitions which took place during Natalia’s stay.
They both share that working together has been a positive experience, getting to do many different things. In the words of Annie, “managing an art gallery is very dynamic. One day you have to build up an exhibition and the other you have to get in touch with the artists, which is not always easy”.
Although she admits that she would have loved to stay longer, taking part in this exchange was important to Natalia as she is now more aware of the pros and cons of starting or expanding a project: “Through the experience of another person you can learn how you can improve it and question yourself if the idea you already had is feasible”.
This same thought is shared by the owner of the gallery, who highlights that she also went through a similar experience in the early 80s: “It was not easy to be an entrepreneur thirty years ago”. For Annie, it has been a pleasure to work with people who are so engaged building their projects: “I’m really enthusiastic about this program and I am open to host other new entrepreneurs in the future”.