Andi Potamkin Blackmore is a founding member of Three Squares Studio, a hair salon and art gallery in Manhattan where she currently serves as Creative Director, curating seasonal exhibitions. She is the founder of LeMise, a Brooklyn-based art and design advisory firm, and is a Board Member of the Museum of Arts & Design in Manhattan.
Let’s start with a day in your life….
I woke up and made bulletproof coffee with ghee and cinnamon. Then we had a private yoga class in our apartment. That’s a worthwhile indulgence to be sure and starts my day off on a positive note.
After that, I read the papers, eat an egg with avocado and slowly begin to plug into the inter web, emails and such. Technology is a wonderful tool but we can get too attached to it if we aren’t conscientious. I used to check my email as soon as I woke up and it started my day really stressed out. I don’t do that anymore.
Once I get into the swing though, I’m speaking with people all over the world. This is where I think technology is super awesome. I’m in New York writing this interview for you in London, also working on one for a magazine based in Hong Kong.
Today I am doing some follow up press for our current show at Three Squares Studio: a new series of textile works by California-based multimedia artist Kimberly Corday titled Pelage. I think Kimberly is just magical, both her person and her work. This will be our second show together and this series is her most primal: a sexier, more mature direction, super rich and tactile materials in neutral tones. I’m thrilled with the new work and it’s received a beautiful response.
I’m also doing preparatory research for a big show we are mounting at the Museum of Arts & Design called Sonic Arcade: Shaping Space with Sound. The show’s interactive installations will take over five floors of the museum, creating immersive sound-based environments that invite audience participation. I love shows like this and Shannon Stratton, the Museum’s curator, is a genius. Next week we will have a studio visit with Israeli artist Naama Tsabar, one of the featured artists along with Noordeman & Wright, Foo & Skou, MSHR, Julianne Swartz and Studio PSK.
When I’m working from home, every hour or so I’ll take a break from computer work and read a book for a few minutes or go on a walk and listen to a podcast. I’m currently reading Conscious Business by Fred Kofman and my favorite podcast is Philosophize This with Stephen West.
Later this afternoon I’ll visit a girlfriend’s sculpture studio in SoHo to do some consulting and branding work. I do a lot of career advising and behind-the-scenes work review with artists.
As an art dealer, what does art mean to you when you visualise the word?
Art is the start of a conversation. Art reflects how someone sees the world: both the maker of the piece and the person who chooses to live with the piece.
I think when someone creates a work of art, they are putting a piece of themselves into it.
I think when someone chooses to bring a piece into their home, it’s a romantic gesture. It’s saying “I love you. I want to bring you home with me and I want to live with you. I want to see you in the morning and I want to see you in the night.’
Do you have a daily mantra that inspires you?
Esse quam videri – Which mean’s to be, rather than to seem. Also ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ is one that I hold on to a lot lately.
Finding that right balance between personal life and work life can be difficult, what would you say is a healthy habitual way of learning to switch off?
This is so important. We live in a time when people are expected to be available and ‘on their game’ constantly: this expectation comes from ourselves as much as it comes from others. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be plugged in all the time and in some ways, I think that’s led us to this culture of quantity instead of quality. We value output regardless of quality and sometimes it feels like everyone is just putting out shit. (please excuse my language)
In Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In she talks about how most people who quit their jobs citing exhaustion quit with lots of unused vacation days. There is this stigma of “How dare you take a vacation day…” And people just get burnt out.
For me, I was always putting way more pressure on myself than anyone else was putting on me. I had this notion that any time I was not working, other people were working, and surpassing me. It gave me this terrible anxiety when I was younger. So I reframed my mind around things that I could do that nobody else could do. I put my head down, I concentrate, I stay humble and I work my ass off. And when I bring something into the world, I am really proud of it because I’ve been able to give it the due attention.
How important would you say it is to support yourself around others that understand your vision, and have you ever had a mentor? If so who, and how much impact did they have on your journey to success?
I couldn’t possibly overstate the importance of mentors. I’ve had great ones and I’ve had awful ones and I’ve learned a lot from both. A good mentor will change your life.
Find people whom you respect and study them. Listen to every word. Be thankful for the menial tasks at first. You never know where your lessons will come from and there really are no shortcuts for a deep understanding of an industry. You must do everything at first. A good career trajectory is more like a jungle gym than a ladder.
You cannot delegate what you do not understand. If you want to be in a position one day where you will be delegating tasks, you should understand how you like things done, and why. This way, when someone isn’t doing something the way you like it, you can say “Hey, let me show you how I like that to be done.” not “I just don’t like the way you did that.” The latter doesn’t help anybody.
Also, avoid ‘yes men’ at all costs. Those people are not your friends.
You have since expanded into other business ventures, so what would you say is your number one tip when it comes to building a profitable business?
First and foremost, I believe in offering a product that is needed. Don’t sell people things they don’t need. We should be conscious and respectful, both of our customers and ourselves. We must temper the endless-consumption mindset that is wreaking havoc on the world.
Second, you must understand that it is important to make money. A business cannot have longevity if it doesn’t have a good income structure. I know it’s very chic to say, “Oh I don’t care about money.” and that is fine, if you can make that work. But unless you have a fairy godmother, I don’t think that works. And even fairy godmothers get fed up sometimes. You need to figure out how to monetise what you are good at or you won’t last very long.
Before you jump into anything, think if people really need what you are offering. Will they pay money for it, and not because they like you, but because they really want it? That is how you build a profitable business.