A Conversation with the Gallerists and Art Print Company 1xRUN

By Lori Zimmer

May 2012

All of my artist friends are currently obsessed with Detroit. They talk to me for hours about the seemingly endless possibilities for art projects there, where you can buy a (derelict) Victorian home for a few thousand bucks to do with it what you wish, where street artists are convening to work with the artist Revok, and put up pieces of enormous proportions on Detroit’s streets, where you can rent a giant artist studio for a few hundred bucks to get some work done for a few months outside of the beautiful chaos of New York. Detroit is still a dying city, rife with unemployment and crime, but there is a glimmer of creative spirit that is rising, attracting artists. And we all know that once the artists come, the neighborhood will likely change (just look at Soho in the 80s, Williamsburg in the 2000s, and the wasteland that is Bushwick now).

At the forefront of this potential Detroit Renaissance (I don’t want to jinx it), is the group of guys that make up 323 East Gallery and 1xRUN prints. Officially headquartered in Detroit, Jesse Cory and Dan Armand run the business there, while Ryan Brogan is out posted in New York–to be in the thick of the art world. Together they’d created a business in reaction to the changing art world, which has started to take down the walls of exclusivity and instead engage in the collectors’ experience.

With the home base in the less-expensive Detroit, 323 is able to easily mount shows of artists they feel passionately about, while 1xRUN balances out the accessibility, putting out affordable, limited edition print runs by established artists with a following, but also emerging artists, giving them exposure and an introduction to the art world, sometimes before their first solo shows.

The business model is not only smart, but also democratic, including collectors and art enthusiasts of all levels, and creating a sort of all-encompassing community of art fans, collectors, and artists. But this is the goal of 323 and 1xRUN, to create an ongoing dialogue in the art community, bringing collectors and artists together in a way that the art world has frowned upon before, altruistically for the purpose of art. Their line up of artists such as Ron English, Beau Stanton, Derek Hess, Revok, Ellis G, Claw Money, Luke Chueh, and Allison Sommers, to name a few, has also garnered them great profits along the way, but has already warranted them a notch in the future of art collecting.

Lori Zimmer: You are all really busy guys–Jesse, you also run 323 Gallery in Detroit,  Ryan you’re in New York with Magnet Agency, Dan, you’re an Art Director at an Advertising Agency–how do you balance it all with 1xRUN?

Ryan Brogan: We have an amazing team spanning Detroit, NYC and LA as well as an ever-growing team of global curators who can replicate our efforts in their cities/countries. Magnet Agency is growing as well, and there’s quite a bit of crossover in what I do in headhunting at executive levels as many of the clients and candidates I work with via Magnet Agency are on boards of museums, avid collectors, or just crazy about the art world.  We all work 7 days a week and make it happen.  Also, being a headhunter is a good craft to apply to discovering artists and picking the best curators to help us grow 1xRUN.

Jesse Cory: Without the gallery, we would have never conceived 1xRUN, and many of the projects we do on 1xRUN overlap. For instance, the current Beautification Project in Detroit, we’re working with Montana Cans, The Seventh Letter and Contra Projects to bring many of the world’s leading graffiti artists into the city for an expansive mural campaign. Each of the artists will also contribute a print release to fund the project. The gallery also serves as the offices for 1xRUN, it’s an inspiring place to work, and being around art all day is pretty amazing.

Dan Armand: Over the last few months it was becoming increasingly difficult to juggle, but I’m happy to say that I left my job at the agency to focus solely on 1xRUN and 323East. Agency work was a good way to earn a living for the time being, but 323 and 1x have always been where my passion lies. With 1x growing fast, and so many great shows and projects on the horizon, the conditions were finally right for me to take the leap.

LZ: How do you think collecting art has changed over the last few years?

1xRUN: The explosion of the internet has played a significant role in the way people can engage with the artists, see their work as it’s made, and follow their progress in a more personal way. This has expanded the consumer art market and with platforms like 1xRUN offering originals, prints, and editions from a vast group of artists across different styles and genres of art, once purely consumers of art are now becoming collectors of art.

There is a very sophisticated new generation of collectors that are passionate about the current breed of artists producing work that is unique and making personal connections with their fans and collectors. There’s definitely room for new ways to discover artists besides a gallery or private dealer and the internet removes the stigma many people have about the gallery setting.

Many of the galleries in the post punk contemporary movement that encompasses genres such as low brow, pop surreal, street art, illustration, graffiti and others are selling work to an international collector base with images shared via email and on their websites. The art market has always been a global marketplace and the ability to connect internationally with collectors is now easy as they’ve become comfortable purchasing art without actually seeing the work in person.

LZ: What do you think is the future of collection?

1xRUN: The consumer art market is growing exponentially and it’s only going to increase in the coming years. With artists growing online fanbases at a rapid pace and providing an insight of their day-to-day lives, fans will become collectors. The web enables all of that and more, whether it’s Christie’s and Sotheby’s doing what they do best, 1xRUN introducing new work on a daily basis to a global audience, or making recommendations on what to buy next with their genome project derived from auction data. People will also love showing off their collections via Instagram/Facebook, Pinterest and other tools, whereas collections were rather private in the past. It will be open and more exciting than ever, especially for us, as our collector base is exploding–artists are the new rock stars!

LZ: How do you pick the artists you showcase at 1xRUN?

1xRun: We look for a combination of dedication, talent and a maturity in the craft. One of our core goals is to offer works that will be worth more than our collectors bought it for by the time they hit the buy button. We also rely on our global network, which is incredible, to tell us who we might be overlooking rather than waiting to read about it in a magazine or blog. We are always identifying relationships with new curators who are experts in their region to contribute to 1xRUN. Most importantly, we look for work that says something and feels current. We don’t live in the past like many art companies, nor do we need auction prices to tell us what is must-see work–often times it’s a feeling. Sometimes the artists pick us to get their message out, as in the case of Tes-One’s image about the Trayvon Martin shooting which within hours of posting it, hit the cover of the Huffington Post arts page. We love being a platform that gives instant access to artists with a message about current events in the same way the NY Times gives that voice to our best journalists.

LZ: Your roster has been thus far pretty incredible–who are your dream artists that you hope to collaborate with in the future?

RB: Our dreams come true every week when we get to not only watch someone like Tristan Eaton, SEVER, or Revok do incredible murals in Detroit with our crew, then release as amazing art on 1xRUN that lasts forever. I’d love to do a project with anyone who understands our platform is not business as usual for selling artwork. We want to do full on projects with artists from concept to execution. OS Gemeos and Faile along with Blek Le Rat would be wonderful to work with and hopefully coming soon to 1xRUN.

JC: With the build out of our new live / work studio in Detroit, we would like to invite internationally recognized artists into the city to create exclusive works for 1xRUN. With our collector base growing each day we feel this opportunity for artists will be a valuable resource for us to engage artists we respect and would love to collaborate. We’ve worked with so many amazing artists to date and continuing to push the medium of hand-touched multiples is the direction we’re continuing to develop and our collectors appreciate.

DA: There are still so many great artists out there that I would love to work with, but I think my dream team would have to be Stephen Powers, AJ Fosik, and Barry McGee.

1xRUN prints limited edition art prints from urban and graffiti artists from around the world. 323 East is a rising gallery in Detroit,which features emerging and established graffiti and urban artists.



323 East Gallery

Written by Lori Zimmer

Photography by Josh Hanford

Design by Marie Havens


All Photography by Josh Hanford

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