Originally published in The Gallyry
Roxana Sava, the Founder and CEO of SOTA Agency, tells all about forging a path in the art world
“Start small, but with the big picture in mind” is the advice that Roxana Sava, the Founder and CEO of State Of The Art Agency, would give to all women wanting to make it in the art and business worlds. With this advice, Sava was not only in the right place at the right time, but her journey into the art world was intertwined with belief, determination and a lot of hard work.
State Of The Art Agency was set up by Sava as a space to offer artists guidance, develop their artistic voice and build an authentic brand. Working on a global scale, the agency facilitates creative collaborations and networks across the world – which is so important in allowing the arts to become more accessible and impactful to new audiences.
What sets SOTA Agency apart from the rest is their dedication to female representation and empowerment. They understand the huge gender gap in the arts industry and as a female-founded business, Sava aims to work on championing other female artists that she believes in.
Whether you are interested in forging your own path in the art world, interested in creative business or simply intrigued to hear about Sava’s journey, read our interview below to get inspired.
How did you start your journey into the art world and what inspired you to found State Of The Art Agency?
Roxana Sava: Simply put, I was in the right place at the right time. Being able to join the art world as part of Mr. Brainwash’s incredible team was an amazing opportunity and I consider myself blessed every day. I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason and my entry point into the art world is one of the strongest arguments I have to support my belief.
Soon after I moved to New York from Romania, I was wondering in Soho when I stumbled upon a gallery that had a painting in the window with the words: “Never, never give up”. Being probably one of the most positive people you’ll ever know, and having an ocean between myself and my comfort zone, I felt an impulse to walk in. That’s when I met one of the most beautiful people I know. She quickly became my boss and mentor, and dare I say, a close friend. I asked bluntly if she had any jobs available to which she answered that she was about to put out an ad for a gallery assistant – “Look no more!”. That night I sent her my resume and recommendation letters. I graduated in PR with minors in Advertising and Journalism – I never thought I would work in the art world, but somehow it all made sense.
“Recognising the need for female representation in the art world, especially in our current social and political climate, lead me to focus on this niche market” – Roxana Sava
The experience I gained during the years of working closely with Mr. Brainwash and later Eduardo Kobra – two amazing artists, is priceless. In 2018 I had to choose between moving to LA to continue working with them or staying in New York. I decided to get a job in Branding at a creative agency in New York – going back to my roots, let’s say. While working there, I had friends and friends of friends, reaching out to me for advice on how to navigate the art world. I always wanted to start something on my own, and having the knowledge on how to build a brand from the ground up and with the years of working closely with internationally renowned artists, I decided to combine my experience and start State Of The Art Agency.
Recognising the need for female representation in the art world, especially in our current social and political climate, lead me to focus on this niche market. On top of all the statistics, studies and art reports* that show a huge gender gap in the industry, I am a woman. I want to see gender equality in the world. If there’s something that I can do to help, then I want to do my part. Change has to start somewhere. Hopefully with more and more women-owned businesses, focused on women empowerment, we’ll change the world. I would love State of The Art Agency to be a piece in that puzzle.
*In galleries working in the primary market only 36% of the artists they represented in 2018 were female artists, even though there statistics show that there are more women artists than men – according to the Art Market Report 2019
Your mission is to empower women artists. How do you and your agency work towards this?
Roxana Sava: We work with artists one-on-one to build their artistic voice and an authentic brand. We guide them through everything; marketing strategy, setting the right prices, building their inventory system and more. Once we establish that, we curate for them creative partnerships and opportunities – from galleries and fine art collectors worldwide, to interior designers, corporate collections and more. We actively seek to partner with other women-owned businesses.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in founding your own company?
Roxana Sava: I think the biggest challenge is learning how to be patient with both myself and the business at the same time. Good things take time. I’m always telling my artists that it’s like building a house. You can’t put one brick down and call it a house. As they say, it takes years to become an overnight success.
You are based in New York but work with creatives all over the globe. What do you think is so powerful about creating a global network?
Roxana Sava: Art has no borders. Having a global network of art lovers – how I like to call them, that includes artists, art collectors, galleries, curators and more – is a must in the art world. Art is happening everywhere and it has been global for centuries. Artists moving from one place to another in pursuit of inspiration. But with the rise of the internet, it was only a matter of time before the art scene became globally accessible. One of the most important characteristics of art is that it transcends any linguistic boundaries. Once globalization and the belief in art shifted, as it became an asset class, a solid investment, the “discussion” moved beyond Europe and North America and we realized the power of global art. When China joined the table Warhol’s prices boomed, and when Russia’s oligarchs joined, Rothko’s prices jumped. If art is global, so has to be the network of people who make art, sell art, see art, enjoy art – art lovers.
“Having a global network of art lovers – how I like to call them, that includes artists, art collectors, galleries, curators and more – is a must in the art world” – Roxana Sava
What would you say to other women who are interested in forging their own path in the arts industry?
Roxana Sava: Go for it and don’t be intimidated! Surround yourself with people who believe in you. Along the way I’ve learnt that perseverance, hard work and a positive attitude always pay off.
Don’t believe for one second that your dream is too big, whatever that might be. Start small, but with the big picture in mind. Take risks and give 110%. They’ll be moments you’ll want to quit, don’t. Keep going, be kind and patience with yourself.
As poetic and cliché as it may sound, be the change you want to see in the world and be the person you’d like to meet. Slowly but surely, you’ll start seeing that those bricks you’ve been laying one on top of another, are taking shape. Support other women and other women-owned businesses, in any way you can – with feedback and a kind word, by spreading the word on social media, financially if you can afford. If we empower and support each other, sooner or later we’ll change the world.