Director of Communications at Galerie Perrotin
Vanessa lives in Paris, France and is originally from France and Colombia.
Instagram: @galerieperrotin / @vanessaaclairet
Twitter: @galerieperrotin / @vanessaaclairet
Photo © Claire Dorn
- How did you get started in PR and how did you find yourself where you are now?
My first job was within the communications department of the fashion brand agnès b. I produced exhibitions and events, but also coordinated the multiple aspects of sponsorship of the brand: music, art gallery, art collection, movies, prints... I was lucky enough to work closely with Agnès herself, along with Jean-François Sanz, the head of sponsorship, and with wonderful teams based in Paris, New York and Hong Kong. It was an incredible experience, very challenging and dealing with global issues. In the meantime, I started teaching art history at the Ecole du Louvre, and wrote some articles for magazines and text for catalogs. Then I met Michel Rein who hired me as director of his gallery where my role wasn't limited to communications topics, but dealt with all the issues that galleries are facing: sales, accounting, production, logistics, fairs, events…. After 5 years, I had the opportunity to join Architecture-Studio, an international practice holding an art foundation in Venice, Italy. I was in charge of producing and promoting their exhibitions—I co-curated one— and I was also in charge of communications for their architectural and urban projects worldwide. This was a fascinating opportunity to learn more about this wide field. Two years ago, Perrotin, a gallery that I’d been following for a long time, offered me the position of Director of Communications.
- What is your role within the company?
As Director of Communications, I am in charge of coordinating and expanding the promotion on our artists, shows and galleries. This includes PR for sure, but also media planning, social media, events, publications, graphic design, talks… The gallery now has 6 spaces around the world (Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Tokyo, with Shanghai opening this year) and more than 110 employees. Since my arrival end of 2016, the communication department has been re-structured and we have hired 6 new persons in different locations to reinforce the international team. For communications, we have dedicated teams in New York, Paris and in Asia. My role is to work on strategy with Emmanuel Perrotin, and to coordinate the team in-house and liaise with the multiple institutions, brands, fairs, and artists studios we are working with.
- What are you currently working on?
We are working on the major exhibition of Takashi Murakami in New York that just opened, teaming up with Fitz & Co for PR and BETC for social media strategy. In late 2018, we will launch our new space in Shanghai (1200 square meters / 12900 square feet) in the Bund area. In the meantime, we will continue to promote our gallery shows (around 40 per year), fairs participations (more than 20 per year) and off-site projects like the Jean-Michel Othoniel exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Sophie Calle’s solo show at Chateau Lacoste this summer, or Bernard Frize at Centre Pompidou in Paris next year.
- What is a recent success you're particularly proud of?
I have to say the opening of our New York space in the historic Beckenstein building was a great success due to fabulous teamwork. In 2017, the gallery moved from Upper East Side to Lower East Side, to a space of 2300 square meters / 25,000 square feet. It is a big challenge to bring attention to the gallery in such a competitive city like New York. We take nothing for granted, but a lot has been done already.
- What is most important in your work?
Working with a great team with many different skills, personalities and cultural backgrounds across New York, Paris, Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo. I am lucky to work with very professional individuals, who are committed and creative. Timing is crucial in our field, so organization and working well together are instrumental.
Having a good understanding of the gallery’s projects and exhibitons, and maintaing close relationships with artists and their teams is also key. That’s where my background as an art historian helps, along with my experience in the art field for more than 10 years.
- How would you say the media landscape in your field has changed since you started in PR?
Social media has become an incredible platform to communicate, one where you have to be creative and keep up with constant innovation. It’s an amazing way to reach our audience more directly, in addition to traditional PR work, which remains fundamental. Instagram has gained unprecedented power, particularly in the art world.
We need to stay creative and work with young teams that are very connected and skilled. That’s why we started working with the advertising agency BETC to develop our social media strategy, particularly on Instagram. We developed new editorial guidelines and an innovative concept to offer our followers a greater and smarter experience of our projects. Today, social media is a crucial way to reach our audience and promote our artists, exhibitions and projects.
- Where are your favorite places for business meetings or drinks with writers/clients?
In Paris, the Marais district is full of casual restaurants and cafes to have meetings near the gallery. Places like Maison Plisson, Fringes, Café Charlot, Chez Philippe, or A Broken Arm. I also like the quietness and chic of hotel restaurants like The Meurice, The Royal Monceau, Hôtel de Crillon, or Le Grand Amour.
- PR anc communications can be fast-paced and stressful, what is your favorite way of relaxing?
There is no better way to disconnect from a working day than taking care of my 5-year old son! Leaving Paris is important too, and we try to go as often as possible to the countryside to walk in the forest or read by the fireplace. I also go often to concerts with my boyfriend as we are both fond of live music.
- What are you reading these days?
I just finished The 25th Hour, a small but very useful book written by Guillaume Declair, Bao Dinh and Jérôme Dumont. The writers give key advice for organizing your time based on the experience of many start-up managers. It’s full of great tips and interesting mottos! Also, I recently read Eroica, a beautiful and well-written book on Jean-Michel Basquiat by Pierre Ducrozet, and I am about to finish Boussole by Mathias Énard—who won the Goncourt price— a great book for understanding the culture and history of the Middle East over the past few centuries.
- What are you listening to these days?
I am fond of the Born Bad Records label. They’ve signed bands like Frustration, Cheveu, and Vox Low, a new band for them. Besides that, I have to say that I am pretty lazy regarding music as my boyfriend makes great playlists for me and our friends, very diverse and cutting-edge. I follow his lead most of the time!
- What is the next event you're the most looking forward to in the next months?
I’m looking forward to Art Basel in June, an important fair on the art market calendar. We will present a solo show of French painter Bernard Frize in collaboration with Simon Lee gallery, sharing part of our booth just like we did last year for Hans Hartung. We also have a couple of important openings coming up at the gallery: Ivan Argote in Paris, Daniel Arsham and Pieter Vermeersch in Tokyo, Ni Youyu in Hong Kong and Xu Zhen in Seoul.