Kyla Brooke is the owner of Art Folks, a fast-growing, affordable vintage art gallery, primarily operating on Instagram (@artfolks.gallery). The businesses sources and sells original oil paintings, with recent collections focusing on land, sea and cityscapes from Danish and Swedish artists. Art Folks uses social media, pop-ups and art events to showcase new collections to clients who Kyla describes as “a mix of novice and seasoned collectors looking for beautiful, affordable art”.
How did you get started in vintage art?
Like many others, I started my business during lockdown. I was looking for a fresh start and something that let me be more creative. I researched suppliers and made good connections after a trip to Denmark. I then started sourcing vintage art and re-selling it on Instagram. It’s been just over a year and it’s been so exciting to see how much our customers love our art. As a business, we’re growing quickly and its been incredibly encouraging.
What is the unique appeal of this type of art?
I like Danish art from the 20th century – it can be a little quirky or edgy. I’m also a fan of Swedish which suits most tastes as well. Most importantly, we can find great pieces that are affordable!
What areas/items are currently selling well?
Landscapes and floral still life always sell. These themes are easy to connect with for anyone. I’ve seen a few mid-century abstract paintings go quickly, but these are harder to track down. Vintage cubist art is always popular.
Which are the ones to watch/future sellers?
I think mid-century furniture will continue to pick up steam.
How can such artworks work well in traditional and contemporary settings?
I always try to source pieces that I love and that work well in a variety of settings. A great vintage painting can bring joy to any room, regardless of design aesthetic.
What antiques do you have at home/collect and why?
Some of the Scandi art I buy ends up in my home as I love it too much to let it go! I’m building up my own collection which is a lot of fun and it’s also a way of showcasing to my followers how to make this sort of art work well in your home.
What do you think will be the antiques of the future?
I think people are often nostalgic about their childhoods so I imagine figurines and toys would be ones to watch. I’d say the same for films. One day Twilight and To Kill a Mockingjay movie posters could become sought after.
How is the industry changing and are you optimistic for its future?
I see the industry growing among younger audiences who are interested in sustainability and pre-loved items. It works well with their agenda and we work hard to keep our pricing affordable for those just starting a collection or decorating a new home.
Is new technology good for the trade and buyers/collectors?
Yes. I sell almost exclusively on Instagram. It helps get eyes on your products quickly, gives you instant feedback and enables you to build an audience.
What makes the antiques trade so interesting/exciting for you?
I’ve met lots of amazing people. So for me it’s a fun community. I love the hunt of finding something and then have someone get as excited about it as I do. I’ve had brilliant feedback on my choices and that spurs me to keep going.
Tell us some trade secrets – what key questions should buyers ask?
Always be willing to negotiate price.
What antiques/artworks would you buy if money were no object?
I love vintage glass. So perhaps a Murano glass chandelier…
You’re down to your last 50 quid – what antiques/art would you buy?
I like vintage British school posters. They don’t cost too much and once framed, they make a nice addition to a gallery wall.
Where are your favourite antique hunting destinations and why?
It’s taken time to build a good network of places to source art. I work with a mix of great dealers, auction houses and others who help me source.
What are some of the biggest mistakes that buyers make?
It’s easy to get caught up in emotion and overpay when you’re sourcing!
What do you consider the high point of your career in antiques?
It’s still early days, but I’m incredibly excited about the business continuing to grow. There is no substitute for the excitement of making a sale.
Are antiques attracting younger buyers and, if not, how can the industry reach out to them?
Yes. They are a great client base as they love things that are ‘preloved’ or things to do with ‘sustainability’. It’s about marketing to them via their personal causes as they love a personal purpose. To get younger buyers you need to be where they are so you must have a social media presence.
What advice would you give to people new to antiques who want to find out more?
I only sell vintage paintings that I love and that I would have in my own home. Make sure you’re doing something you’re passionate about.