Alessandra Salituri – Bright yet light, beautifully minimalistic, feminine and surreal are some words that come to mind when browsing through Citizen Atelier, a luxurious online art marketplace founded in Montreal.
Creator and curator, Alessandra Salituri, inherited her love of art and design from her artistic mother. “I think being so close to an artist, you see the artistic process,” she said. While watching her mother make her way as an artist, Alessandra learned that with creativity comes a need for artists to be business people as well. “That doesn’t come naturally to a lot of artists.” Alessandra took interest in the communications and business aspect of art—the first spark that led to Citizen Atelier.
Another spark lit in Paris. Alessandra travelled to Paris, and immediately fell in love with their art galleries. Artists work in the shops alongside their completed work. The shopping experience is relaxed and personal. Buyers meet the artists. They see snapshots of the artistic process. They learn about their inspiration and work methods.
At the age of nineteen, Alessandra began representing artists and their work. “I was trying to pick pieces of art for my own home, then I had a roster of clients who were looking for art,” she explained. Unfortunately, the artistic experience in Canada is overwhelming and inaccessible for many. Another spark—it made sense for Alessandra to eventually create a channel for artists and buyers to connect comfortably.
Creating Citizen Atelier
Alessandra connects artists with buyers through Citizen Atelier. “I wanted to make the buying process more accessible,” she said. “Art is abstract and intimidating. I want to make it less intimidating.” The user-friendly interface and attractive design does just that—with the added comfort of shopping from your home.
Online art marketplaces were not the norm in 2014 when Citizen Atelier launched. “I had to rely on my intuition when I was building the concept,” Alessandra said. “This is something that I felt a niche and a desire for, but there weren’t many people to look up to throughout the process.”
Alessandra Salituri built her business from the ground up. She listened to the needs of her clients to create something new and beautiful. “You want to create something that you think will speak to people.” The choice of an online platform gives art buyers a new shopping experience.
Prices start as low as $30 for a single print, up to thousands for limited edition pieces. The range of prices is meant to be inclusive of the broad buyer market, without sacrificing quality. Artists ship their work directly to the buyer, typically within two weeks, to minimize the number of hands each piece passes through. “We like to have the personal touch on the art,” Alessandra said. “The artists will often sign the work—especially if it’s limited edition.”
Living the brand
Alessandra’s intuition grew into success. Within months of launching, a designer working on Jessica Alba’s bedroom contacted Alessandra about sourcing a few pieces from the gallery for the space. A year later, Elle Décor named Citizen Atelier one of the top online galleries in the world. The world had been waiting for Alessandra’s online Atelier.
Citizen Atelier is modelled off the relaxed art buying atmosphere Alessandra first experienced in Paris. She designed the marketplace with comfort and genuine connection in mind. This is not shop and click buying. Users browse the artists, read Alessandra’s story, and check her blog, which features new artists’ stories, art buying tips, and dreamy décor.
Alessandra embodies the brand shoppers see on the website. Citizen Atelier is a small snippet into her own life. She selects each artist on the marketplace, and meets personally with as many as possible. “I think it’s important to bring who I am as a person into my work,” Alessandra said. She values human connection over business, and keeps her clients and artists’ best interest close to her heart.
“I think that the world is a village,” Alessandra said. “Part of my goal is to make art from other parts of the world accessible.” She finds new artists through her travels, social media, and submissions, always trying to maintain a balance of international to Canadian work. A popular recent addition is Anna Argiropoulos, a Toronto-based travel photographer with dreamy prints of Greek islands.
How does Alessandra choose art?
Alessandra’s number one piece of advice when choosing art for your home: you have to love it. “I love art that inspires you to live your best life,” she said. “When I’m choosing art, I’m not thinking ‘Wow, that piece will look good with this couch.’ Art gives soul to a space and it should be something that speaks to you.” Surreal art—pieces that look dreamy or unexpected—are her favourite.
Essentially, let your heart decide. “Let your choice be something that speaks to you. Don’t worry about matching.” Art is meant to stand out in your home. It’s a conversation starter. An investment. Expose yourself to as much art as possible to find something you love.
Another tip: although gallery walls are popular right now, a single oversized piece might be the statement you’re looking for in your home. “I’m a fan of big and bold art, especially if you live in an open concept space.”
Citizen Atelier’s evolution
While Citizen Atelier will grow and evolve over the years, Alessandra continues to stay true to the experience she has created. Alessandra’s role has grown to include meetings with artists; home, business, and hotel artwork consultations with interior designers; and photoshoots. She’s also currently working to offer users a framing service in the coming weeks.
Despite how busy she is, Alessandra makes a point to dedicate time to her own continued learning. “For me as a business owner I think it’s important to keep evolving and learning,” she said. “I try to set aside an hour a day to read up on business, marketing, and gain knowledge.” Her personal evolution as an entrepreneur directly translates to the growth of Citizen Atelier. Along with education, resourcefulness, creativity, and innovation are keys to her success.
See the gallery for yourself at citizenatelier.com