We're kicking off 2024 with a deep dive Q&A session with gallery owner, Kayla Twomey Flamman! Last year was full of growth and change for The Miller Gallery, as Kayla stepped into the role of gallery owner in July. Join us in learning more about her and getting some tips and tricks for new collectors and artists looking to join a gallery.
Kayla Twomey Flamman is the owner and curator of The Miller Gallery. A Greenville, South Carolina native, Kayla earned her BS in Exercise Science with an Art History minor from High Point University. While earning her degree, she spent time studying British Heritage and Culture abroad in Oxford, England. Afterward, she continued her education and earned her MBA from Webster University to combine her love of art and marketing.
After six years of working in fine art galleries in Greenville, SC, and Charlotte, NC, she moved to Charleston with her husband and two pups. Kayla joined The Miller Gallery team in 2021 and in 2023, stepped into the role of owner, purchasing the gallery from founder, Sarah Miller Gelber. Kayla uses her creativity and passion for the arts to contribute to Charleston’s thriving art scene. Her intuition for producing shows, staging exhibitions, and curating site-specific installations has added to The Gallery's wide array of services.
When did your love for art begin?
Like many artists and creatives, I've been painting before I could even read. Art always came naturally to me, but I enjoyed drawing and painting the most while growing up. In elementary school art class, we studied the "masters," learned color theory, and were free to create. That's where my love for art was fostered, and I continued to pursue that passion throughout my education and into my career. From the National Art Honors Society in high school to an Art History Minor in college - it's been a lifelong love that I'll never stop learning from and being inspired by. I feel incredibly lucky to work in this industry and connect with so many talented creatives daily.
How did you get into the gallery industry?
I grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and would visit our local galleries and museums frequently. It was always one of my favorite activities to see what others were creating, the collections on display, and peeks inside artists' studios. While earning my MBA, I received the opportunity to join Art & Light Gallery as a gallery associate and work alongside owner and artist, Teresa Roche as her studio assistant. From wiring artwork to curating newsletters, I'm so grateful for Teresa taking me under her wing and teaching me how a small business runs. She is to this day, one of my favorite mentors, and now I have the privilege to work with her as one of our represented artists at The Miller Gallery. It's a full-circle moment.
What’s the first piece of art you collected?
Oh wow, my first-ever piece of original art was so special! I was studying abroad in college and visiting Florence, Italy when I stumbled upon a local street artist selling gorgeous watercolors. There was one in particular that caught my eye, it was three fashionable ladies strolling the streets of Florence with the Duomo in the background. I walked past his work a few times before finally deciding to take the plunge and buy it. It was such a wonderful reminder of my trip to Florence with my two college friends. This purchase really sparked my love for collecting, and I got the "collecting bug" as they call it! I'm grateful for that little watercolor and the opportunity to support other creatives.
Any advice for new collectors?
My advice has always been, to collect what you love. I started by collecting the smallest pieces from artists I loved, as that’s all my 20-year-old self could budget for. But those pieces are some of my most treasured! I love grouping all the smalls into gallery walls, or little vignettes around my home. Constantly adding to and re-arranging as my collection grows. That's the fun of it all! You don’t need to invest in a large piece to fill your space. Paper works are also a great place to start, as they’re typically an accessible price point and you can get creative with the framing.
As a small business/gallery owner, you wear many hats. What do you enjoy most about your role? What are your biggest challenges?
There truly are SO many hats when running a small business, but my number one has always been connecting art to collectors. Watching collectors fall in love with art or find the perfect piece they've been searching for for years is truly unmatched. The "aha" moments. Art is powerful, and seeing it add joy to lives and homes is what fills my cup. On the other hand, there are parts of running a small business that can take up a lot of your day. I’d say that is one of the biggest challenges, checking off the daily to-do list! Some days go by in a flash and you feel like there are not enough hours. But it makes the next day a new and fresh opportunity to reach our goals. How do you find your represented artists? Any advice for artists looking to join a gallery?
We’ve met our art family through walk-in visitors, our favorite art blogs, art fairs, travels, friends, collectors, submissions, and social media. I would advise artists looking to join a gallery, to master their voice and vision and have a strong body of work that showcases these. From there, research galleries and explore if your style of work is in line with what they are exhibiting. If so, reach out to see if there are any opportunities to be a guest artist in a show or collaborate on a release. If the gallery sees your work to be a good fit for their audience and aesthetic, they will let you know! If the answer is "no" or "not at this time", don't be discouraged. It just means you haven't found the right fit yet.
For me, working with artists who have a strong point of view and unique style is important. I look for creatives who tell a story, stand out from the crowd, and whose work I'm genuinely excited about. Stay true to your vision and you will attract the right art community!
Where do you see the Miller Gallery in 3-5 years? Any big goals or changes you're hoping to make?
At The Miller Gallery we truly believe in "Art For All," and our mission is to create a space where buying original art doesn't have to feel intimidating or stuffy. My vision for The Miller Gallery is to continue on our path of being an industry-leading contemporary art gallery that connects artists and collectors in exciting and modern ways. And for us, the experience of collecting art is just as important as the art itself! I'm determined to create a seamless and user-friendly experience for everyone because collecting art should be fun. Whether you're visiting us in person or exploring our online shop, we want you to feel welcomed and engaged. Consider us your trusty art expert pals, here to help make all of your collecting dreams come true!
One of my big goals is to take this show on the road! I’d love for Miller to pop up in cities across the US and allow collectors to enjoy works in person. My ultimate goal for the year, is to find a permanent home for Miller in Charleston, where we can continue to grow and thrive as part of the community.Thank you for taking the time to learn a little more about the inner workings of The Miller Gallery and say hello to Kayla. If you have any specific questions, don't hesitate to reach out through our web form!