Hekátē Studios: Providing Long-Term Support to Artists

Aristea Rellou, co-founder of Hekátē Studios

Aristea Rellou is a co-founder and director of Hekátē Studios, a studio management platform that assists artists in building fulfilling careers. In an interview with Fine Art Shippers, she shared her insights on fundraising, the branding and marketing of artists, and strategies to attract donors.

Hekátē Studios: Providing Long-Term Support to Artists

Can you walk us through your journey in the art sector and how you transitioned into fundraising?

Aristea Rellou: Contemporary art and the industry that surrounds it were instrumental in my personal and professional development. In many ways, I was raised in the arts and I have consistently worked for galleries, art fairs, museums, non-profits, and with artists directly for the better part of my life. I wanted to try it all, and that’s exactly what I did until, about a year after I finished my MA at The Courtauld I got my first job in fundraising, at Tate. As I learned more and more about individual giving and development as a whole, I knew that it was a good fit for my personality and skillset and I went on to work for Camden Art Centre and, finally, Serpentine Galleries, before I co-founded Hekátē Studios along with Dominic Sylvia Lauren and Vaso Papadopoulou and have since enjoyed the pleasures and the challenges of working for oneself.

What specific challenges in the art industry does Hekátē Studios aim to address?

During the pandemic, we noticed that many of our artist friends were finding it challenging to manage all the competing priorities of running their studios. Artists spend a lot of their time juggling increased exposure, coordinating multiple shows, selling their work, and trying to brand themselves, while studio managers often tend to be an expensive luxury that only late-career artists are able to afford. With that in mind, we designed Hekátē Studios as a platform for studio management that is transparent and accessible. We wanted to support artists directly and contribute to the long-term success of their practice. So we developed a model where we work remotely and flexibly in a highly bespoke fashion that enables us to hopefully make a difference in the industry.

Hekátē Studios artists

Can you elaborate on Hekátē Studios’ ethos?

Hekátē Studios aims to empower artists to pursue fulfilling and productive careers. We provide artists with accessible guidance and support. Ultimately, our goal is to advocate for artists and give them the tools they need to establish fair working conditions across all of their projects, as well as to open up transparent and honest channels of communication between them and their collaborators.

How does your background in fundraising for exhibitions and public programming help your work at Hekátē Studios?

Career development in the broader sense is at the core of what Hekátē offers, and my fundraising background continues to inform my Hekátē work every day. Together with our artists, we work on the development of a lot of proposals and relevant presentations, which need to be compelling and thorough enough to bring us the desired results. Having done similar work for various institutions as a fundraiser makes these proposals more targeted and well-rounded, which in turn contributes to the overall offer of our service. Fundraisers in the arts and culture sector in general tend to have a deep and holistic understanding of the industry, including the needs of artists and management of complex projects. This knowledge— along with that of my co-founders, Dominic and Vaso—was invaluable when shaping the mission and vision of Hekátē Studios. The list is long; budget management, grant writing, and event management are only some of the day-to-day responsibilities of a fundraiser, and it goes without saying that they are essential to the work we do over at Hekátē too.

What are some of the key strategies you employed to engage donors at the £10,000-£750,000 level?

Five-six-figure gifts have the potential to make a truly transformational impact on your organization. For this reason, securing such donations requires a thoughtful, considered, and strategic approach. Fundraising is like matchmaking; it’s all about finding common ground and being there to facilitate meaningful connections between donors and projects they may be interested in. The relationship that then develops needs to be a win-win. Therefore, the key to effective fundraising for me is to communicate honestly and openly with prospective donors to discover what drives them, what motivates them, and how that may align with your own objectives. Beyond that, fundraising requires constant cultivation, stewardship, and a long-term vision to achieve lasting results, and it’s based almost entirely on the formation of meaningful bonds with donors and sponsors.

Hekátē Studios artists

How is the workflow at Hekátē Studios organized?

The Hekátē Studios’ directors are all equally responsible for looking after the roster of artists we work with. We assign tasks and responsibilities internally, based on which one of us is better equipped—thanks to their experience, background, and interests—to manage each project most effectively. We oversee both short-term ongoing projects and the long-term aspirations of each artist, to make sure that we can support them in the best way possible. Our team works remotely with artists, galleries, and institutions internationally, so we operate across all time zones and geographical locations. We work with a roster of reliable contractors, freelancers, and other specialized arts professionals that we call upon whenever the need arises, and we are always eager to find new collaborators depending on the requirements of each project.

Can you share a success story of an artist that Hekátē Studios has significantly impacted?

The artists we work with inspire and move us daily. My favorite part of working on Hekátē —other than being part of artists’ development journeys—is when I see that our work has a positive trickle-down effect. When a contract is amended to reflect someone’s hard work and commitment, when the terms of a collaboration change in favor of transparency, and when barriers are brought down to increase accessibility and openness, that’s when I know we’ve done our job right.

What’s a key piece of advice you often find yourself offering, especially in the context of branding and market positioning?

If I had to choose one single element to build a successful brand strategy on, that would be authenticity. Especially in the context of the art world, where creativity and innovation are essential, finding your voice and then standing by it can truly propel you forward. Being aware of your own core values and aspirations and then finding ways to communicate them consistently across your work itself but also its public presentation helps you create a signature that others can get to know, admire, and keep their attention on. Authenticity is about delivering real value—shying away from gimmicks—to achieve long-term success and personal fulfillment, while finding others who will appreciate your sincerity and will support you for it.

Are there any specific services or features you’re looking to introduce to Hekátē Studios in the coming years?

Staying adaptable and responsive to the evolving needs and preferences of artists and the broader creative community is key to long-term success. We have been running Hekátē Studios for three years now, and we have noticed that a lot of these changes happened organically over time. Our team has a strong core belief in the inherent value of the service we provide, but the more time passes the more we get to know our strengths and, therefore, improve our work through specialization, adaptation, and expertise. Our main goal for this coming year is to rethink and evolve what Hekátē offers while maintaining our integrity and authenticity as a team. This past summer, we launched a new nomadic gallery in Greece called KIRKI. It will continue to grow and expand, and our plans for next summer’s exhibition are very much underway, so I invite you to stay tuned for exciting updates soon!

Interview by Inna Logunova

Photo courtesy of Hekátē Studios