Interview with Elisabeth Ramfjord
By Erin Anderson.
EA: You are a businesswoman and an entrepreneur but you started as a creative and still foster the practice of art making in your life. What (or who) were your biggest inspirations when you were young and how did these influences help shape the direction you took later in life?
ER: When l was young l wanted to be a fashion designer and started working at a clothing store at the age of 15. The store was run by a young couple, a French designer and his wife who was a former supermodel. I got a chance to be an assistant to a designer, participate at fashion fairs and they even used me as a model. I worked for them for 3 years and they taught me almost everything l know about customer service and what it’s like to run a store. They were definitely my biggest inspiration early in my career.
EA: You designed and made clothes when you were younger. How did you want people to feel in your clothes? Do you ever find these early intentions inform and shape the artwork that you both make and are drawn to?
ER: It was a short career. I drew and made my own clothes when l was a teenager, and started out as a sort of multi-artist. I think that everything combined shaped my future works, as an artist. My aim was to convey my creativity and the customers satisfaction, which still is one of my main motivations as a gallerist. I still love the feeling of making someone happy.
The work you choose in your gallery is often reminiscent of the inner life, emotional layering and multifaceted psychological dynamics. Do you find you choose work based primarily on your emotional connection to the subject or is it a combination of factors?
I always choose artworks and artists that l love, otherwise it’s difficult to both work together with the artists, show and promote their work. It is really a balance between my rational and my sensory abilities! Nevertheless I must admit that my cognitive reaction to an artwork, often is the winner, although quality is never to be neglected. The last factor is very important to me.
EA: Do you mind sharing what artists you’ve included in your personal collection?
ER: Oh, I have several, both abstract and figurative. Just to name drop some; Lene Kilde, Aron Wiesenfeld , Alexandra Niemzcyk, Gabriel Schmitz, Ingebjørg Støyva, Audun Grimstad...
EA: The premise of the WAW show is to dedicate the exhibition to the woman who symbolizes a hero among champions. I see any female entrepreneur taking risks and succeeding in her field as a hero and a champion. What would you tell young women today about having the courage to follow their dreams?
ER: I have given advice to young women to dare to stand out and believe in their dreams and their ability to realize them, but not be too impatient about reaching their targets. I don´t see myself as any kind of hero or champion, but I have a number of situations where I have found the right balance between my own feeling of fear related to risks, and to mobilize enough courage to implement it anyway. After all, it is at the border of your comfort zone, that usually great things happen! I think that those who know me well, regard me as a risk taker, with a high pace and a great passion for my work as a gallerist. I am lucky to be able to work with something I feel a true inner motivation to succeed with, so it is not difficult for me to mobilize passion for my work. But l have to admit that it took me almost 10 years to build up the courage to say (and mean it) that l don’t care what other people think and that l will keep following my heart! Next year l will have been running the gallery for 20 years.
I will encourage others to move patiently forward with work they really feel passion for. My best advice: Work hard and be patient, success doesn’t come over night, and if it does it usually doesn’t last. Don’t undermine yourself and don’t give up when you meet resistance. Don’t team up with people with negative energy. Find your weakness and don’t be afraid to ask for help, you cannot be good at everything. And last: Be visible on social media!
EA: The depiction of a woman warrior can come in many forms, what most conveys the image of a strong woman to you?
Difficult question! I think a strong woman has the courage to be open about her own vulnerability and weakness, and despite the fact that not everybody else loves to see you succeed, fights her own fear and brings forward courage to move on in the direction of her dreams. A strong woman doesn’t get too affected by others, but dares to believe in her own capabilities and dreams.
It takes considerable determination and grit to start any business from the ground up let alone a successful gallery business. Has it ever seemed difficult to be a strong woman in a world culture where traditional female gender roles often prevail?
ER: Starting a business is risky anyhow, for both men and women, but you have to have a strong belief in your own capabilities. And be able to work hard and truly believe in what you do. I really don´t see any limitations regarding traditional female gender to show more self confidence, although I have great respect for women who choose the more traditional role in life.
EA: As a gallery owner and an artist, what advice do you have for artists who are getting started in their careers?
ER: As mentioned, I would encourage them to believe in their work and show great passion. Be patient. Define your style and what you want to express, and always try to develop yourself, so you don´t risk stagnation. Work hard and don’t give up, take a NO with pride and keep working even if it is difficult. The “stayers” are the ones that often make success in the end. Establish a relationship with a gallerist or agent who wishes to contribute to your success, with marketing and introduction to collectors and galleries internationally. Stay visible, if not in public, be visible in social media!
EA: Do you find the personal balance between entrepreneur and creative difficult? Are there ever times where the pull to satisfy one or the other is distracting or is it a more synergistic dynamic?
ER: The balance is always difficult, mainly because time is a limited resource. But I am happy to have a background as an artist to be able to have a “tribal language” with the artists and better understand their struggle and wishes. I always Wish l had more time to paint though....it’s a kind of meditation for me!
Article courtesy of PoetsArtists Magazine