Miami natives Laura and Cristina Cartagena are establishing an online marketplace for the next generation of collectors and emerging artists.
Sisters Laura and Cristina Cartagena at Create Collect. The Miami warehouse holds nearly 300 pieces, including Baby Box (BOTTOM) by multimedia artist MRKA.
Take a stroll in Wynwood and it’s clear that the creative class “brain drain” that once plagued Miami is a distant memory. The next wave of innovators is emerging locally, and among them are Laura and Cristina Cartagena, CEO/founder and COO, respectively, of Create Collect.
Part online gallery, part artist collective, Create Collect pioneers a progressive approach to the traditional world of selling art, bridging the gap between artist and consumer. “We realized there was this problem with artists…. they could make stuff but didn’t know what to do [with it] afterward,” explains Laura. “We could do that for them. Our main goal is to promote and sell their work and expose them in any way possible.” That is done, she explains, by connecting collectors directly to the artists themselves.
The sisters launched the Create Collect website with much aplomb during the recent Art Basel fair while simultaneously executing a corresponding multiartist pop-up show. “It was a huge success,” recounts Laura. “We sold a lot, and a lot of people showed interest. They were like, ‘This is very different from everything else we’ve seen.’”
The duo’s creative and operational vision has yielded an inspirational collection of close to 300 pieces in their Miami warehouse. “I’m looking for contemporary art,” Laura explains. “And I’m looking for more of a personality, someone who is open to new possibilities and who really wants to expand the way they work. They are willing to do a painting just as much as they’re willing to do a poster.”
She sources works from her own network of artistic friends as well as from artists who send in submissions. A handful of Miami-based artists the two represent include photographer Yuri Tuma and vibrant painter Marilyn Rondon. Others, like illustrator Nicolas Linares (who goes by the moniker NKONE) and multimedia mastermind Lucas Benarroch (MRKA), hail from Spain, Portugal, Colombia, New York, and Boston.
The pair has been tapped to be art ambassadors for Think Hotel Group, the group behind Boulan South Beach hotel, helping dress rooms to “inject culture into their hotels.” “Art is very much branching out into hotels, restaurants, galleries, and events,” Laura says. “Art can translate in so many different places, and I think that is the future—all of the different platforms that are available to us. It’s exciting.”