The Behind the Brand series is about getting to know the real design enthusiasts who work just outside the spotlight across our industry. We hear lots from the architects and interior designers, but what about the sales managers and marketing experts who link them with products, specifiers and so on? This time, it’s the turn of Alexandra Guglielmino, leader of the Art Advisory team at Bluethumb Art Gallery.

Tell us about your current role.

Alexandra Guglielmino: As the Head of Art Advisory at Bluethumb Art Gallery, I oversee our sales team and manage the trade side of the business. I build relationships with interior designers, architects, stylists and other industry professionals in Australia, New Zealand and the US, helping them find art for their projects from our portfolio of 360,000 works by over 20,000 artists.

Whether it’s one artwork for a residential home or hundreds for an aged care facility, we provide end-to-end personalised art services tailored to our clients’ needs for their projects. Our services include sourcing artworks, creating location plans and providing quotes, framing and installation.

And before that — you worked as an interior designer previously?

I did. I started working for an architecture firm as a receptionist, and quickly became friends with the interior design team. I enjoyed the creative environment and had a natural affinity for the design process. I was lucky enough to assist the designers while completing a Certificate in Commercial Arts (Interior Design) at a private college. After that, I moved onto another large architecture firm for five years in an interior design role.

The projects I worked on at these firms included offices, retirement and aged care facilities, and schools, to name a few. It was a great experience to learn not only from the interior design team but also from the architects and leaders within the business.

Related: Meet Ana Cuellar of Spence & Lyda

Alexandra Guglielmino

What prompted the switch from practising design to working in supply?

I discovered Bluethumb through a colleague and loved their mission to support Australian artists. I was always trying to specify local materials and products where possible for my interior design projects, so finding Bluethumb was fantastic as they made it easy to search for artworks based on my design briefs. I established a working relationship with their team, and when I relocated to Melbourne they reached out to offer me a position growing their trade portfolio, which I was happy to take on.

I’m glad I took a chance and embraced the career change. There’s something so fulfilling about helping a designer make selections and then seeing the project come together with the artwork hanging on the walls.

Did you always have the interest in art? Is it a case of the passion for art winning out over pure design?

I’ve always been interested in art, but I never thought I’d end up working for an art gallery. At one point in my early twenties, I wasn’t sure what to do next, and I contemplated studying art to become a teacher. Then I fell into interior design, and now I’m here!

Having worked as a designer and being able to specify artwork for past projects, the switch to the trade role at Bluethumb felt like a natural progression. Being in sales was new to me, but I knew how to merge art and design while working alongside designers.

When life slows down a bit, I’d love to continue my passion for art by pursuing further study and art courses.

How does your design background help with your day-to-day work now?

With over seven years of experience as an interior designer, I’ve pitched to clients, handled design specifications and completed projects from start to finish. I understand designers’ needs and the entire process, from the initial design concept to construction and installation. Collaborating with Bluethumb streamlines the process, freeing our clients to concentrate on other areas of the project. As a supplier, our goal is to support designers by providing comprehensive options and information, allowing them to confidently present artwork to their clients for approval.

Having a design background also assists with understanding client briefs, whether it’s a minimalist residential project or an office fit-out seeking contemporary abstracts to inject colour into their space. My knowledge base in design and understanding of different design styles allows me to respond to client brief quickly and accurately.

Do you have any advice for designers who might want to strike out in a new direction?

Identifying your passion is the most crucial yet challenging aspect. Perhaps there’s a part of your job you enjoy more than others, and that can be a great starting point. I absolutely loved searching for art and putting together artwork packages for clients. As a designer, your diverse skill set can be tailored to various roles or industries. Leverage your extensive network of suppliers for guidance, or, if venturing into a new industry, begin by cultivating relationships and attending networking events.


Hear from Innerspace’s Luc O’Brien in our previous Behind the Brand instalment

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