We are thrilled to share with you this week’s Frank Talk with Laura Currie! Laura is the founder of Prospect, a company that collaborates with top contemporary artists and cultural organizations to create limited edition art products. She holds a BSBA from Georgetown University in Marketing and International Business and completed post-bac studies at Columbia University, across the schools of business and psychology. Outside of Prospect, Laura is co-chair of the Cooper Hewitt’s Young Patron’s Steering Committee and a member of the Performa Visionaries Steering Committee. Originally from Erie, PA, Laura lives in Manhattan with her pup Jacquemas. Laura is a woman to watch, and we are excited to share her advice about working in the art world – please enjoy your read!
What was your first job in the Arts?
After graduating with a business degree from Georgetown, I interned at Prentice Cultural, a cultural communications agency based in New York.
What was the most useful or important thing you learned at that job?
The most important thing was actually not long after that first job, when I took a risk on an idea. I was working with a friend on a mural commission for the launch of South Street Seaport. At the time, artist Baron Von Fancy was just emerging—his tongue-and-cheek style was the perfect fit. Not too long before the launch, we proposed a t-shirt featuring Baron Von Fancy’s signature script. We sold out almost immediately — and I realized a few things: very few people have access to original artworks by top contemporary artists; that tons of people wish they did; and that I could build a bridge.
When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in this industry?
During my internship, I worked on a collaboration between Sugimoto and Hermès. It was the intersection between art, commerce and fashion, and I knew then that I wanted to do more.
What do you do now?
I’m the founder of Prospect, a lifestyle brand that collaborates with top contemporary artists to transform everyday objects into works of art. Additionally, these collaborations help artists to expand their reach – at new scales, in new mediums, and at accessible price points.
Over the past few years, we’ve created products with artists including Judy Chicago, Nir Hod, Misha Khan and Enoc Perez. We also collaborate with a variety of arts organizations, such as ICA Miami, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Performa, For Freedoms, MCA Chicago and Artsy on exclusive art products.
Outside of work, I am co-chair of the Cooper Hewitt Young Patrons Steering Committee and a member of the Performa Visionaries Steering Committee. Supporting artists and increasing access to culture is very important to me.
Where are you from?
What is the arts community like there?
The region around Erie has lots of cultural activity. Carnegie and Andy Warhol Museums are in Pittsburgh and the Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece Fallingwater is not too much farther South. In Cleveland, an hour away from where I grew up, there is a burgeoning arts community — the MCA Cleveland, the Cleveland Museum of Art, a host of great galleries, and now one of the most important regional biennials: Front.
Has where you come from shaped what you do in the arts today?
Absolutely. Growing up in Erie, I didn’t have access to physical works of contemporary art. Few people do, no matter where you live. What I do today attempts to connect people in all parts of the country with contemporary art — and the ideas expressed — through accessible products. It’s about bringing contemporary art into our everyday lives through everyday objects.
What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?
Take the first step. Just get started.
What is one of your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?
I’m proud of our ability to support cultural non-profits through unique art product collaborations. Our first artist non-profit art product was created with Performa, which launched Fall 2018. Since, we’ve worked with ICA Miami, MCA Chicago, and For Freedoms. It’s an area that I didn’t think about when the company was founded, and it has become increasingly important to me.
What has been a challenge for you?
We work with production facilities all over the world, so my work day spans all time zones. One of our partners is always awake and working, which means that I feel that I should be too. On the flip side, I know that exhaustion leads to nothing good. Giving myself permission to pause is hard for me, and I work on it daily.
What is something you do every day at work?
Call my mom.
What defines a good employee? What defines a good boss?
A good employee is a self-starter, honest, follows through, and gets the job done. A good boss is … this is a hard one! I work on it everyday. Can I get back to you in a few years? 🙂
What do you think makes a person hirable?
In a start up culture like ours, the most important things are drive, determination, and creative problem solving.
What is your advice to making yourself stand out in your workplace?
Be a self-starter. Be consistent. Cross your t’s and dot your i’s. Always follow through. Close the loop.
What are things you can do proactively boost your CV?
Get involved in a meaningful way with something that you care about. Show quality involvement, not a list of vague associations.
Are there any tips you can give people entering the workforce?
Never stop networking, read everything you can get your hands on, and remember that you can learn something from anyone and everyone you come across.
In your experience, what are things to do and things to avoid during an interview?
Smile, make eye contact, establish a personal connection. Be sincere, honest and transparent.
What is the best exhibition you have seen in the last year?
Hilma af Klint at the Guggenheim
If you could own a work by 5 different artists, who would be in your collection?
Najla El Zein