How one woman’s love for art and art education led to a career supporting artists
Art and every artist are threads that make up the larger tapestry of why connection to a world outside of our own is essential to the survival of hope and wonderment.
For those who work in the art industry, it is common knowledge that it’s a realm that exudes a sense of curiosity, intellect, and one that appeals to those with an eye for pieces that emit the kind of emotionality essential to the betterment of humankind. Pernille Kjeldsen is a Danish born art PR Director whose work in the art world has introduced us to a pool of incredibly talented artists (predominantly female).
While art shows are resurfacing as are galleries and museums, to find the unique artist; the artist whose story has yet to be told; the artist whose work speaks to you—that is a process altogether its own. Pernille’s unique sense of passion and keen eye for authentic visual voices has allowed her to seek out the work of countless artists, and in turn share them with media and purveyors alike.
Curious about how her journey began, we sat down with Kjeldsen to gain more personal insight into why she does what she does—and explore how it enriches the lives of artists and art lovers alike.
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What drew you to the art world?
It actually happened by a coincidence. I never knew I would end up in the art world when I lived in Denmark (where I’m born and raised). Studying for my Master’s, I got offered an opportunity to do an internship at an art gallery in New York City. I’ve always been the person that jumps straight into things without thinking twice and I, of course, took this amazing opportunity. It was one of the most transitional periods of my life and those 6 months elevated me and opened up a whole new world I didn’t know existed. I was so intrigued by the art world. To work with these incredible creative beings that think so differently than me in terms of how their minds operate was so inspiring and taught me a lot.
Art is an individual experience and can have such a strong impact on people’s lives. I’ve met people who have used art to heal themself from a severe disease. Art can bring awareness to issues and address matters that are important for human life.
I work with an artist who has used his voice and art work to bring awareness to ocean conservation.
Another thing I truly love about the art world is how sophisticated it is. I love that you have to know your art history to be able to have conversations with industry people. You can’t fake it. I used to work in fashion, and not to degrade the fashion world, but it really didn’t give me the fulfillment to brand a pair of jeans. It felt empty without real meaning.
I realise the more I learn about art, the more I don’t know anything at all. I love reading about art history and the great old masters, it’s such a fascinating world.
What does it mean to you to share the work of artists you represent, and what is the significance or commonality among them?
The major thing is I believe in them and their work. I genuinely want the world to know about them and it’s more like a drive I have than a work I’m getting paid to accomplish. I have my heart 100% with the work I’m doing. To me my work is my passion and I feel like it’s my purpose in life—that this was the path meant for me.
I have always known I’m a good networker and good at creating relationships, and many artists are more introverted and don’t know how to get their work out to the public. That’s why we compliment each other so well. I believe it’s an honor to work with artists and get to brand them and help them become successful.
To be a part of their growth and share in their victories, gives me the same satisfaction they get. PR is a way of selling and I know I could never represent anyone that I didn’t believe in or who’s work I don’t like. I couldn’t sell something I genuinely didn’t like.
I’m into many different art styles. Photography, abstract art, figurative, sculptures, street art.
What brought you to Los Angeles?
Since I visited Los Angeles for the first time 13 years ago, it was love at first sight. I ended up coming back every year on vacation, but it was never enough for me just to be here for a few weeks. I was so drawn to the people, the nature and lifestyle and I couldn’t get the idea out of my head of how it would be to actually live here. I got my Master Degree and after a few years working for a big Danish fashion company to gain some experience in PR, I decided to make the move.
I quit my job and left friends and family to pursue my dreams in LA. I haven’t regretted my decision once. I do miss family and friends in Denmark, but I fit in here better than I did back home in Copenhagen. My life has gotten richer in so many ways and my mindset has grown enormously. Thinking about my development the last five years compared to the rest of my life is remarkable. I’ve experienced a freedom here that I’ve never felt anywhere else.
Of course there are things about America I really don’t align myself with, but the pros outweigh the cons in the overall picture. I’ve been very focused on my career the last 7-8 years and LA is the place to be for that.
You are capable of winning bigger if you’re willing to fight for it.
Where does your passion behind the work you’re doing derive from?
I am a very passionate person and I can’t imagine working with something that isn’t a passion of mine. I know I’m fortunate that my work is more than just a work, but it’s my life and how I identify myself. Many people work to make a living, but I’m the opposite. It’s a fine balance though. As amazing as it may sound, it’s really hard for me to set boundaries and give myself permission to relax and take time off. I’m a perfectionist and very hard on myself to the extent that I rarely celebrate my victories because I’ve already moved on to the next thing. It’s something I’m working on since I know it’s not healthy in the long run. Everyone needs to have some kind of balance.
Since I love art it’s been easy for me to find my path in life. It felt natural and it excites me every time I think about the future and all the things I’d like to achieve.
What is your hope for women in art over the next few years?
All I hope for is for every woman to be seen in whatever field they’re in. The art world has always been very male dominated and luckily it’s in a transition of change and has been over the last couple of years. More female artists get recognised by galleries and museums, and in general more top positions are occupied by women now. Additionally there has been a rise in the way women in the art world support each other. I’ve seen a lot of female focused art initiatives being born and it makes me really happy and hopeful for the future.
I know so many female artists with a huge talent who have been limited in their career opportunities, and even though it’s rarely expressed explicitly it’s easy to read between the lines that their sex is a part of the reason. Especially if it is a female artist who also happens to have a stunning look, then some people are very quick to put her in a box. It’s sad to experience, but I’m hopeful we will experience a shift in the future.
How do you see the art world evolving in terms of social, gender and racial equity?
There’s no better time than right now. Because of the power of social media networks and societal compassion, things are changing for the better and I hope they continue towards an equal playing field for all creatives. Like in most other industries there has been a radical shift in the art world where focus is pointed on equity.
We have seen a more inclusive approach from galleries actively changing to embrace diversity both when it comes to work staff and the artists they represent.
Public image matters and with social media no one can hide anymore, everyone has a voice and can express themselves. My feeling is this change will continue in the direction we’ve seen so far.
Pernille Kjeldsen was born and raised in Denmark, but a lifelong desire for travel and adventure called and she left behind her job, friends, and family to pursue her dreams in Los Angeles. Not knowing anyone in LA or having a solid plan, she was determined to build her life and career. With a Masters Degree in Communication and experience in the art world, she met her employer quickly after moving here. The life as a PR Director for a contemporary artist is very challenging, often calls for long days and intense workload, however it has given her the freedom to grow and achieve more in life than she ever thought possible.