Expert Studies 02: Sonny Ruscha Granade of M+B Gallery
Describe what you do in three sentences or less:
I just started a new job as Assistant Director at M+B Gallery in West Hollywood. I’m still adjusting to the new role and more responsibility, but maintaining relationships with collectors, artists, curators and writers is one of the most important aspects of my job along with sales, of course.
I know you went to school for fashion design. What influenced your decision to go into art?
In my late teens, I was hellbent on making a career of designing menswear. As I dug deeper, I realized that I had no real interest, talent or patience for learning how to design, much less draw. Throughout college (I ended up studying Business Management) I worked in a funky gallery in Silver Lake that sold everything from silkscreened skateboards to large decorative paintings. As ridiculous as the place was, I found that I loved working closely with the artists and placing their work with people who appreciated it. This led to an internship at Gagosian Gallery and eventually the start of my career in the arts. I have no formal art history background but one could argue that I lived art history, my father being an artist and my mother a former dealer and collector.
What (and by whom) is the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
I was chatting recently with a friend in the art world about my desire to start a family soon and the associated guilt, given the majority of women in my line of work prioritize their careers over having children. This friend, a Senior Director at a major international gallery opening in Los Angeles this year, has two small children and assured me that when the time is right, it is possible to balance family and career if you manage your time well and set boundaries with your employer.
What is the best advice you would give someone wanting to work in art?
Get ready for a cast of characters! The art world is chock-full of nutty (and sometimes very difficult) people.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced career-wise / what keeps you coming back?
Since I didn’t study art or art history, I’ve often felt that there are major gaps in what I know. But I stay curious and learn as I go so the pieces of the puzzle are slowly but surely coming together.
How do you measure success, both in life and work - is it all one and the same?
When your job doesn’t feel like work- that’s success. You’re doing what you love and what comes naturally to you. And to me, a successful life is a balanced one. Spending quality time with my close friends, husband and dog is a top priority.
What is your ‘golden rule’?
Never be afraid to be persistent. It will always pay off in one way or another.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I love reading and listening to interviews, especially featuring successful women in creative fields. I find it fascinating (and inspirational) learning how others choose to live their lives and manage their careers.
If you could choose to go back in time and chat with your younger self, would you? What advice would you give?
Perhaps I would. I’d say, “Don’t be so hard on yourself! You are enough.” This is my mantra these days.
What is your concept of the word ‘luxury’?
For me, luxury is comfort and little else.
Does a current exhibition ever define what your will wear to the gallery space?
To be honest, no. I have a uniform and tend not to stray from it.
If you had to pick up your life and start over in another city, and another field where/what would that be?
I’ve always dreamt of owning a simple, minimal little store with local artisanal objects and perhaps some artist editions, ceramics and jewelry. In my dreams I would live in Big Sur or Ojai. This dream could become a reality...
What is your favourite neighborhood in LA?
Definitely Silver Lake. It’s home to my favorite shops and restaurants and the overall vibe is right up my alley.
Do you support any charities? If so, which ones and why are they important to you?
I support Planned Parenthood. I’m on the Host Committee for Sexy Beast, a gala evening including an art auction, which donates its proceeds to the organization. I feel strongly that each and every woman deserves the right to affordable reproductive healthcare and education.
How does someone become an ‘expert’?
By living, breathing, eating and truly loving what you do.
What is essential for your peace of mind?