Having spent so much time at home these last almost four months, our domestic spaces have become our safe sanctuaries. We spent money not on our daily coffees or Leon salads for lunch, but instead on candles, vases, flowers and kitchen scales for all the baking we did. Anything that could help make the unknown days a little bit brighter. And all of it went into making our homes that much more full of beauty.

Enter Leyla Fakhr. After years on the aquisitions team at the Tate Modern, she launched her answer to an increasingly prohibitive arts market, where records were being smashed at auctions day-in and day-out.  We recently caught up with Leyla to find out more. 

What was your AHA! moment about wanting to setup The Collectors' Editions, selling more affordable prints from artists you loved?
I worked for eight years at the Tate and specialised in acquisitions of Modern and Contemporary Art. It was from there that I became aware how integral the role of national art collections are in reflecting a cultural identity while positioning itself in a global context. I really wanted to understand the key reasons of why some works of art were acquired by the museum and why some were rejected. What makes an art collection sustain time and history?

In a way, art collections act as a lens which offers us a glimpse into time and history.  We can observe socio-political notions as well as collective emotional states, through the language of art, which is in fact a universal language after all. The most exciting part of my job is to work with artists who have a distinct way of looking at their surroundings, who take apart banalities of everyday life and then reflect them back to us in a thought provoking manner. I really wanted to share this exchange with a wider audience and make a point how important it is to be able to live with these key art works which add layers of meanings to our very existence.

Many blue chip artists who are represented by museums and have developed a maturity within their practice are often unaffordable. Fore example, I could not afford to purchase a Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian. Her market prices of unique pieces range from £60k to £300K and this is far from anything that I earn. The Collectors’ Editions was born out of making critically acclaimed artworks affordable so her prints, which are the only signed editions that she produced in her life time are priced at £3,500, which I am sure will grow over the years as well.

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian's 'Untitled' (1976) 2018, Edition of 30

Obviously editions have been around for centuries and the reason why I started with artist
from the Middle East is because signed editions from the region are still not as common, as it it would be with European or American artists.  The Collectors’ Editions is a platform where young collectors can find works of art that are of museum standard and each of our prints are thoughtfully selected and reflect on key characteristics of the artists practice. There is a plethora of sites that are now selling artworks online, but it is quite overwhelming to make the right choice as a collector. That is why I believe in a personal relationship with my clients where I can actually encourage them to slow down in the process of collecting, so that they can really take their time in understanding what they are purchasing and how it would enrich their lives emotionally and financially.

How do you choose what artists to work with in order to offer these limited edition prints?
I look at artists from a more art historical point of view. I am interested in  artists  who stand out by far and are pioneers in their practice and have brought new ways of thinking or working into the visual arts. In short, artists who are making a signifiant impact on todays art world ! This should be evident either in the artistic language that they have developed or in the messages that the relay through their artworks.

Y.Z. Kami's Blue Dome, 2019

It is also important for me to work with artists who have already developed maturity in their practice. I would have watched them over a long period of time and I am aware that they are under the radar of other respected critics, collectors and curators. The editions we commission are pieces that represent key characteristics of the artist’s practice and are in a way trademarks of their works, making the piece easily recognisable to the trained or untrained eye.

I am also interested in artists that are bringing a legacy to life, who have perhaps a less obvious and loud approach, but where I find a layer of depth in their work that gives their practice longevity.

The first three artists I worked with Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Sahand Hesamiyan and Y.Z. Kami are influenced by notions of Islamic architecture and ultimately geometric forms. I was drawn to their work as there is a sense of spirituality as well as logic, amalgamated in their practice that I find universal, relatable and timeless.

How should a young collector approach investing in art?
Trust your intuition ! Collecting art should be the most enjoyable process. I believe that collections are derived from a personal space and that we gravitate towards particular artists for one reason or another. Through collecting art, one can learn a lot about themselves and the world around them. However, in order to make sound investments one should do in-depth research on the artist. It is really important to study their practice as a whole, and see how the piece that is in question for acquisition fits within the whole artistic development. I would also recommend looking at their exhibition history and check if they have any upcoming exhibitions and reading any text or article one the artist also helps develop understanding. One of the great positives of the increase of artists on social media is that you can connect with artists directly as well and that can make the process so much more enriching. Make sure to speak to art professionals or curators, this is after all a big investment and should be discussed with someone who has a better grasp of the art market.

Leyla Fakhr, founder of Collectors' Editions

You worked with the Instagram artist Pari Dust to highlight your Monir print - why did you decide to collaborate with her?
I have been an admirer for Pari’s work for a while. She has such a unique andthoughtful way of bringing fashion and art together. I often find that when fashion and art are combined it happens mostly on a visual level and really lacks a more profound way of coupling. Pari on the other hand really takes her time for her work, finds reasons why the designer matches the artist and creates the most mesmerising photographs. 

The art world can feel very exclusive and unapproachable, whereas everyone relates to fashion and it feels a lot more integrated into our lives. Involving Pari is a gateway to invite people with a discerning eye deeper into visual art world. That art too can be just as present and innate in our domestic life and should not feel intimidating in any way.

Pari and I have discussed co-curating an exhibition of Frank Stella and Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian in New York as their friendship has been instrumental in their practice and they are such an unlikely combination, an American artist and Iranian woman friends in the 1970s, that has been art historically mostly overlooked. My relationship with Pari will be ongoing and I am sure we will develop many projects together because we have the same core believes and sensibilities.

Bringing together museum quality art and high end fashion design is about making slow and careful choices of items that we like to surround ourselves with to cultivate quotidian life and make our environment more conscious, thoughtful and ultimately beautiful.

Visit https://www.thecollectorseditions.com/