Print Collectors: An Interview with Jaline Sritharan

by Denis on March 7, 2011

For the second interview in our series, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Jaline Sritharan, a person of discerning taste who will point you in the direction of a few talented artists who may not be on your radar.


von Scaramouche: Do you remember what visual artwork first caught your attention / imagination and what was it about the work that captivated you?
Jaline Sritharan: A human anatomy and science book I had when I was in elementary school. The human body is fascinating. The full-colour pictures were most likely what got me at the time though. The first painter I was enthralled by was Edward Hopper. I discovered him in a television show. There was an episode entitled “Nighthawks”, after one of Hopper’s most well-known paintings. Dark, gloomy, and lonely. It’s still amazing to me every time I see pictures of it.

vS: As a young person, did you collect other things?
JS: I collected hockey cards, stickers, and Pogs. None of which I still have.

vS: Have you studied visual arts in college / university? Do you practice any artistic discipline?
JS: I studied Communication and Multimedia Design and Development, focusing on web design. I currently work in that same field, and I’m also interested in letterpress printing.

vS: How and when did you become aware the world of limited edition prints? What drew you in?
JS: My interest in limited edition prints began fairly recently. Already into design, I first read about prints and posters in visual art blogs. I discovered the work of Si Scott, Marian Bantjes, Tyler Stout, and Emek. I clicked on various images to the web sites of the artists themselves and to gallery shows they were displaying their work in.


vS: To what extent will you research an artist and his works before making a purchase? Will the ‘buzz / hype’ related to a release influence your decision to buy a print?
JS: I’m obsessive when it comes to research. I’ll go through forum threads, blogs, interviews, and occasionally even ask the artists themselves about the process they went through to create a specific piece of art that catches my eye. I read as much as I can and then take this information into consideration before making a final decision about a purchase. This is especially true if I’ve never owned or viewed a piece by a specific artist before. In the end, it’s a combination of my findings with my initial gut reaction to a piece. Most of the time I will only buy artwork if it’s something I like and I plan on displaying it in the near future.

vS: When seeking to purchase a print on the secondary market, what are the most important criteria on your list in determining the value of the print? Is there more to it to you than the last 6-month average? When you find a potential seller, will you generally engage in a price negotiation?
JS: I generally check the average and see what other people are selling their prints for. Realistically speaking, this is the only way to find and purchase the art that you are looking for in a timely manner. If you are involved in an online community, you may be able to find people who are willing to negotiate with you and/or trade a print instead. If the piece is something that I really want and it’s difficult to find, I’m more likely to accept the price the art is listed at and not think about it too much. It makes up for its cost by how much I enjoy it.

vS: Do you sometimes buy a print strictly on the basis that you believe this particular print is a worthy investment? Do you generally give some thought to resale value when you consider purchasing a print or it is not an important consideration?
JS: I’ve never bought anything solely based on its resale value, but sometimes it’s enough to push me over the edge about a print I’m already thinking of buying.

vS: As a means to build your collection, how important is it for you to build relationships with other collectors? What about galleries? Or a direct relationship with the artists? How do you generally go about building those relationships and what channels have proved to be rewarding for you in that respect?
JS: I always attempt to contact the artist about a piece before I go to galleries or other collectors. Online forums are great for discussion, but it’s usually best to speak to an artist about their work if you’re having a hard time finding what you want. Some of them will help you acquire a piece, or suggest variations and custom work they could do instead. It’s nice to build and maintain this sort of relationship because it gives you a way to learn more about the human being behind the art, acquire more artwork that you desire, and it may even allow the artist to explore new territory and expand on their own skills and thought process. It’s integral for an artist to have a website or email as a way for potential customers and clients to contact them. From there, they can branch out to social networking sites if they want to be more accessible. Galleries are another way for artists to have their work seen by others, but an online presence is becoming increasingly important. Depending on the business or line of work the customer is in, these relationships can be mutually beneficial from a professional point of view. I personally have worked on a few web sites for artists, therefore allowing me to build my own skills and make a living while continuing to enjoy art.

vS: In building your collection, approximately what percentage of your purchases are done on the secondary market vs primary market?
JS: 30% secondary market, 70% primary. Secondary market purchases are the result of artwork growing on me over time, or it was something I didn’t discover until years after it was released.

vS: In the cases where there is a lot of anticipated demand for a print release, what is in your opinion the better way for the seller to proceed in selling his prints to the buyers? First come, first serve? Draws? Other?
JS: I’ve always been a fan of allowing people to buy prints within a certain time limit. One that is restricted to a day or two so that most of the people who want the art because they really like it get the opportunity to purchase one. I understand most artists won’t do this because it involves more administrative work for a longer period of time, and some of them like keeping their edition number a nice, whole number. However, keeping the door open for a certain duration gives the people who are going to enjoy the print a chance to buy it, and could potentially deter a large amount of flippers.

vS: When considering the purchase of a print, does the printing technique matter to you ? Have you returned prints because you were not satisfied with the printing quality?
JS: I prefer screenprints and letterpress work, but I have some giclées that are of a very high quality. If I enjoy the art itself, I’m not as likely to rule out a printing technique. It also depends on the reputation of the printer/printing studio. There are people who dedicate a lot of time to fine-tuning their printing skills, and giclée could be a technique they use. I’ve never returned a print due to printing quality, but I believe doing as much research as you can and viewing some pictures of the piece beforehand can definitely help to prevent the need to return art for aesthetic reasons.

vS: Do you have tips to share for when one buys prints from someone he doesn’t know or has not been recommended to him/her?
JS: If no one you know has heard of the seller before, ask as many questions as you can about the quality of the art, where they originally got it from, and definitely ask for pictures. Usually they won’t have a problem with this. Ultimately it comes down to common sense and whether or not it’s worth the risk to you. If you feel unsure about it, share and discuss your concerns with others from online communities or people in your personal life who may know more about buying and selling art.

vS: Do you generally agree with the statement “if a print is not going to find itself on a wall, then it’s not worth keeping”?
JS: Generally, yes, I agree with that statement. It’s not always easy to follow through with this, however. There’s a lot of great work out there and every now and then you may acquire a piece you really like while telling yourself that it will make it on a wall someday very soon.


vS: What style of artwork are you attracted to / seek to add to your collection?
JS: I tend to be attracted to art that has to do with my interpretation of darkness, isolation, life and death, gender, and sexuality. I also like Victorian and Gothic art. As you can see, I have a variety of preferences. I like white space and putting a lot of unspoken ideas into imagery, reminiscent of Chris Ware’s work, but I also admire excessive and intricate detail compacted into a piece, like what Marian Bantjes, Marq Spusta, and Aaron Horkey do.

vS: Tell us about one or two prints that you are most proud of to have in your collection?
JS: “Design Ignites Change” by Marian Bantjes: The first poster I bought based on a cause, learning more about the artist in the process. It was made for AED (Academy for Educational Development), whose goal is to help communicate and solve critical social problems around the world through the use of design as a visual medium.

Ibogaine Conference by Dave Hunter: I resisted this poster for a long time because it didn’t appeal to me at first. I didn’t understand the imagery at all. I did some research by asking questions to EB (Expresso Beans) members and Dave Hunter himself, and the piece really grew on me. The process through which I ended up with this in hand is memorable because it was the first time I just went for something after asking others for their suggestions instead of relying on the JPG images. “Ibogaine Conference” is now something I wouldn’t let go of.

vS: Whose work are you most looking forward to this year?
JS: Jacob Van Loon.

vS: Is there an artist(s) that is featured prominently in your collection?
JS: There are a few artists that could occupy this spot, but I’m going with Chuck Sperry. He’s made some of my all-time favourite posters and continues to dominate print and design work. There’s so much depth in his creations.

vS: Do you have original works in your collection? If so, which one would you like to tell us about?
JS: Original works are in a league of their own. I can’t choose a favourite (they’re all amazing in their own way), but my gateway painting was “Sunnydale High” by Julian Callos. Thankfully, for me, it was available for a long time after the gallery show had finished. In one painting, Callos successfully evokes the tone of one of the best television shows from my generation, which was just as much about comedy as much as it was about drama, action, and horror.


vS: What art gallery do you most admire and tell us why?
JS: Thinkspace Gallery, I’m a fan of the artists they show, the causes they support, and the way they treat their customers. Honourable mention goes out to Gallery 1988, as it’s changing the definition of what kind of artwork a gallery “should” have.

vS: What are the most valuable online / offline resources that you use to keep up with art & print related news / happenings?
JS: Expresso Beans
Gig Posters
OMG Posters
For Print Only
Not Cot
Paper Crave
Creep Machine
And my NTC friends.

Thank you Jaline!


by Denis on March 7, 2011

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Josh March 7, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Great interview, thanks for mentioning the Creep Machine!


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