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Phillip Collins is helping spread Good Black Art across America 

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Phillip Collins, the founder of Good Black Art,  experienced a different reality from the American dream growing up as a Black gay man in the South. As a result, he had two main goals in life: to study marketing and to live abroad.

After graduating from Elon University in 2008 with a degree in International Marketing and a minor in African-American Studies, he moved to Shainghai, China, where he lived for nearly five years. He then moved to Hong Kong for a little over four years.

A Black gay man in Asia blends in just as much as it sounds, yet he was welcomed with open arms. 

“I wasn’t dealing with racism or homophobia. I was living as an American man in another country, and there was privilege to that,” says Collins. 

Throughout his career, Collins has helped companies put their best foot forward. “I was taking legacy products, like Ford, Lincoln, Disney, and GE, and expanding them into new markets,” he says. “But let’s fast-forward to 2017 when I moved back to the US and settled in New York—that’s when my life took a significant turn.”

Collins says he learned about the concept of reverse culture shock and discovered how real it truly is. Navigating his identity in Corporate America, he also faced the challenge of reconnecting with friends and family who remembered a very different person from ten years ago.

“I had to honestly relearn who I was and face the trauma I ran away from growing up queer and Black in the South,” he says. “Creativity has always been how I’ve gotten through tough situations, and that’s when I really got interested in art.”

Before returning to America, Collins was helping UBS lead their sponsorship program for Art Basel in Hong Kong. This opportunity allowed him to get a foot in the door of the art world and develop an interest, even if he didn’t fully identify with the stories being told.

“New York gave me access to art I could connect with on an emotional level, and I could understand the context in a much richer way,” says Collins. “I decided I wanted to be a collector, but I couldn’t figure out where to buy art that fit my budget, which was around $200 to $1,000 at that time. There wasn’t anywhere I could learn about becoming an art collector and truly understand how the ecosystem works.”

Like many people who couldn’t find the community they were looking for in the real world, Collins went on the internet, specifically Instagram, to search for Black artists doing work that spoke to him. 

“I started reaching out to them, sending them messages, and building relationships with them. And that led to me buying directly from artists,” he says. “My first artist was PJ Harper, a sculptor and painter outside of Glasgow, Scotland, specializing in themes of afro-futurism.”

Over time, he and his partner developed an impressive collection, catching the attention of their friends. His skills as an art collector were evident as the artists he gravitated towards continued to excel in their own craft, gaining major exhibitions, awards, and press.

During a Masterclass with actress Issa Rae called “Creating Outside the Lines,” Collins became attuned to his life’s calling. He realized the importance of helping others like him, who lacked the background, gain access to Black art.

“She basically said, ‘If you have the tools and resources to change a problem, and you choose not to, then you’re part of the problem,'” says Collins. “There was no platform for people like me to find art, so I knew I had to create it.”

Good Black Art was launched on August 26th, 2021. It is the first and only tech-enabled company that provides a full-service platform dedicated to art by emerging Black artists.

“Since we started, we have worked with over 80 artists globally, 14 different markets, and four different continents,” says Collins. “Now that we’ve built a solid strategy, we’re really going into accessibility.  We’re defining accessibility in a few different ways, but one of those ways is geographic diversity.”

The art curator notes that over 50% of the world’s art transactions happen in New York City, which is no surprise to anyone in the art world. A significant reason for this is the high costs associated with moving fine art safely. However, talented artists all over the globe could achieve greatness if they had access to proper exposure.

Collins wanted to empower connectivity and redefine who could be an art collector, emphasizing that it’s not just for the wealthy. He believes that by investing even a few hundred dollars, people can start collecting art that will appreciate in time. His team focuses on education and raising awareness beyond well-known names.

“Paintings are always going to be prioritized and valued,” says Collins. “But we recognize that many artists work in incredibly unique and diverse mediums, and we want to create a space where they can create, showcase, and sell their work.”

Good Black Art aims to convert 10% of Black and African American consumers into collectors, with an average spend of $1,000 per year.

Although Collins now enjoys a diverse range of identities and stories within his personal collection, he remembers that when he first began, there was a lot of figurative work featuring Black males and themes from the gay community. 

“I don’t think I loved myself when I started at 32, but as I turned 33 and 34, I developed a more profound sense of self-love. I credit art and the beginning of my collection for helping me find my strength.”

 Discover Good Black Art at GoodBlackArt.com and on Instagram @GoodBlackArt

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