How Alexis's degree inspired him to start his business in the art industry

27 June 2018

After the recent success of his first art exhibition, undergraduate student Alexis D'armau De Bernede discusses how his entrepreneurial mindset and business skills taught on his degree inspired him to start his business venture.

Growing up I was always told: “If you can’t find a solution to your problem, create a solution yourself”. Throughout my childhood, my curiosity constantly drove me to undertake projects in subjects that interested me. Amongst other things, I started trading artworks at the age of 16. I really wanted to start developing my entrepreneurial mindset, which is why I pushed myself to apply to the Bsc International Management course at Warwick Business School, a business school that is known for its quality of education, and which would provide me with the necessary skills to successfully launch my start-up.

I was always interested in art, my passion for art blossomed when I was 15 at TEFAF Maastricht, the world’s largest art fair. One day was all that was needed. Seeing all the art dealers talk with such passion, and make a living from what they love attracted me to the industry, and ultimately inspired me to do the same.

Less than a year later, after having saved enough of my baby-sitting money, I purchased my first piece of artwork: a hand-signed and numbered lithograph by an artist I had been following. Rapidly, I started studying the market, buying what I believed to be undervalued artists, and selling them a few months later with the aim of expanding my collection and purchasing more unique works.

From seeing what I was doing, an increasing amount of my friends told me that they wanted to learn more about art. However, they did not know where to start. This was the “problem” that I had to “create a solution” for and that is how I started Darmo Art.

To summarise our project: Darmo Art is an artist accelerator and emerging art gallery, aiming to create new art collectors. It was created in August 2017 by Marius Jacob-Gismondi and myself, in order to pursue our desire to discover new contemporary artists of our generation. We select what we believed to be today’s greatest young talents, introduce them to the art market, and create investment opportunities for art collectors, art enthusiasts, and investors.The adventure started with a contemporary art blog on Instagram that is followed today by over 7,000 people. The increasing success of the blog on social media initiated the idea of enabling our community of followers to start collecting.

Marius (co-founder and business partner) is a history of arts expert, bringing the technical knowledge to the business, while I focus on the business-side. This includes the finances and business development of the firm. Which is where my undergraduate degree comes in handy. My Business Planning and Entrepreneurship modules have helped me shape the original idea and allow me today to keep it flexible and adaptable. Accounting, Finance, and Programming Solutions modules provided me with the necessary skills to efficiently track, analyse and forecast Darmo Art’s financials. Finally, the practical knowledge learnt during my mandate as Head of Corporate Relations at the Warwick Business School Society has drastically enhanced my sales, pitching and networking competences. 

Being an International Management student has been an immense help in the creation of this business venture. An amazing aspect about Warwick Business School is this environment which has been created to allow us to learn, practice, innovate, and network through both an academic and non-academic atmosphere. Darmo Art enabled me to undertake a concrete application of skills learned not only in my modules, but also during my experience within the Warwick Business School Society.

From the 20 to the 22 of April 2018, we hosted our very first pop-up exhibition: Métamorphoses. The 3-day event took place at the Galerie Gismondi, one of the leading Antiquities galleries in Paris who benefited from supporting this new and innovative project.

Over 300 people attended the opening event, we sold the totality of unique works presented, and obtained news coverage on all media (television, online and newspapers). We are now planning to expand abroad, under the same format of pop-up exhibitions in prestigious places.

I have found that Warwick Business School creates a unique environment for students to meet interesting people and undertake projects (from societies, to start-ups). Do not be afraid to undertake ventures you believe in, and do what you love. Do not be afraid to collaborate with someone. My advice is to always have at least one business oriented person and one with the expertise in the team, it is what has worked well for me.

Want to find out more about the undergraduate course that Alexis is studying? Find out about BSc International Management here.