Jacqui Thomas is the Founder and CEO of the online art marketplace Hatch-d.com.au. Also known as the ' Art Hunter '. Jacqui has a strong passion for fostering emerging and unrepresented Australian artists by helping them to gain exposure, sell their work, and to make it easy and affordable for art lovers to buy original Australian art online.
'My family immigrated to Australia from England when I was three years old. I had a conservative upbringing in the outer suburbs of Melbourne. Having a qualification was very important to my family and my most obvious talents were leading to a career in science, but the desire to create, and to be creative was just too compelling.
I studied graphic design and at the age of 23 I founded a design and branding company called So Design. I also worked as a designer in the film industry to keep me afloat during those early years.
A decade later, having travelled extensively and with a successful and growing design agency that serviced a folio of iconic Australian brands, along with a little Aussie son, I began to really appreciate how such a big part of me identified with being Australian, and how amazing and unique and lucky the Australian lifestyle is.
On Australia Day in 2000, I officially became an Australian citizen, and later that year watched with absolute pride as the Australian team marched out at the Sydney Olympics. Then, after two decades in a very fast moving design industry, came an overwhelming desire to change my creative and business focus.'
Why did you become an ‘Artrepeneur’?
'I’m inspired and excited by artists and art in all forms but just can’t fit all of their brilliance into my life by owning it. However, I can make it part of my life by finding, showcasing and sharing it with others.'
How did you make the shift from being a ‘creative’ to supporting other creatives?
'I will never be without creative projects of my own, its just part of my DNA and in a sense Hatch-d is a very creative and personal venture. By owning a business and leading a team, I’ve learned to recognize and nurture skills in others. With my own creative projects I tend to rush in without too much planning and then let them evolve. Usually I finish only to be too judgmental of myself or too close to the project to love the result.
Hatch-d allows me to have art at my fingertips, to show off the stuff that I love on a website, and share it with my family, friends, peers and colleagues. I get to be a part of a dynamic and exciting world and share it with whoever wants to experience it too. I get to watch and help inspired people blossom and find success through their passion. It fascinates me where people get the drive to do what they do. To follow a passion. To dig deep into their souls. To create.'
Did you create Hatch-d because you also love to shop for art?
'Hatch-d is a natural extension of that creative DNA that drives me. I've simply created the opportunity to use my skills in design and marketing to help Australian artists build connections with buyers, and also to share my passion for an art- enhanced lifestyle with people who may otherwise find art inaccessible, difficult to access or understand.
I definitely do not have a natural desire to shop because I’m easily overwhelmed by the glut of meaningless stuff that clutters our lives, but I do have a discerning eye. I love things that are quirky and fun, and particularly objects with a story behind them. I do also love the feeling of delight and surprise at finding something wonderful and I really want to share that excitement with the world. I want people to be inspired by the people and the stuff that inspires me!'
Why did you choose to create an online art marketplace, rather than a traditional, physical brick-and-mortar art gallery?
'The time is right and the technology is ours for the using as the world embraces Internet-based shopping. It feels like everything is in place to take Australian art and artists to the world. Australia used to be a long way from anywhere, but now we are just a click away.
I just love to see people buy things that they have an emotional connection to, and so many shopping experiences don’t provide that. The brick-and-mortar gallery experience is quite a scary and unapproachable space for many people.
Galleries often represent artists whose work is already out of the financial reach of many buyers and they can only represent a handful of artists at a time. Online we have works starting at just $100 and you can browse in the comfort of your own home anytime. It’s as easy as browsing through Instagram or Pinterest except that you can buy anything you see.
We also have the ability to communicate important information and interesting insights about the artist including their creative philosophy and the story about the artwork to create a deeper connection with the buyer.
We can even show our buyers how the art will look hanging in their own homes before they buy via our art visualisation tool Art Your Space. How wonderful and risk free!
From a very personal point of view, an online business means that I can be anywhere in the world with an Internet connection and still be in touch with, and operational within the business.'
Is your home a showcase of Art?
'My home is my sanctuary. It’s relaxed and open and embraces who I am. It’s a very personal space, definitely not a showcase! I would love to have a second (third, fourth and fifth!) home so that I could fill them with all of the amazing art that I love and objects that reflect the experiences that I’ve had. But extensive travelling and trying to bring back too many physical memories of amazing experiences has taught me that I can’t own everything I find beautiful or functional or inspiring.
Hatch-d is my vehicle to hunt and gather lots of art that I love, created by interesting and inspired people. Hatch-d allows me to own lots of beautiful works of art (in a sense) by adding them to the Hatch-d collection and making them available to the world. Hatch-d online is like a collection of the things I would love to own in my life – it’s like having 4 other houses full of art!'
Who are your favourite artists?
'I have too many favourites to list and what I love might reflect my mood, experience or circumstance at any particular time. My personal collection comprises mainly living Australian artists, and mostly artworks produced in the early days of their art careers.
My personal collection includes:
I also have two new, and really important collections:
One has come through a new relationship and is a really personal part of sharing my life and home with someone I love and accepting his past and the things that are meaningful to him. Amongst the works he has brought with him are pieces by
The other one is a collection of works that my son is purchasing or swapping for his own works, and represents his growth and appreciation of art from a young and developing artist’s point of view.
We have lots of fun and vibrant discussions at home about what we like, and how the art should be displayed.'
Why Australian art?
'A wise businessperson once advised me to seek success in my own back yard first, and what an amazing backyard that is! Australia is a young country with few historical and cultural restraints, and we have such fabulous resources as well an abundance of natural creative exuberance.
The Australian creative scene is exciting, often uninhibited and world class -- and the joy I derive from it excites me. I want to share that excitement with the world.'
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