I write a lot about the type of art seen in Tampa Bay’s art museums. You know the type—that gorgeous, big and ready to deliver you straight into the artist’s heart and mind. Art that takes up entire walls. Art that makes a real statement. Art I could never afford to bring into my home.
The art I buy is quite different from the art I enjoy seeing in museums. It tends to be smaller and more cartoonish. I love how figures, like Auraileus Artist’s Bob the Robot, can convey profound thoughts and emotions using a minimalist combination of bold lines and bright colors. Unlike most gallery art, this type of art works great on a smaller scale and as prints, so I can actually afford to buy it now and then. This is the type of art popping up in Hyde Park this September courtesy of self-taught artist and entrepreneur Britt Ford.
Britt Ford Pop-Up Gallery
Opens Sept. 15 (Grand opening Sept. 24, 5 p.m.)
734 S Village Circle, Tampa
Ford creates custom wall art using a craft technique called thermographic embossing. While others draw with pens and pencils, Ford draws with glue. She then adds gold embossing powder and applies heat to create the raised metallic lines that outline her flora and fauna, city streets and buildings. Her biggest sellers are her flamingos, hydrangeas, poppies, maps and home portraits.
Ford started working this way after seeing a slew of flat mass-produced New York City posters decorating her friends’ apartments. You remember the cheap shit we all decorated our places with when we were in our 20s. Ford knew there had to be something cooler that young people could actually afford. But she didn’t see much on the market, so she set out to fill the void with her own artwork. Thermographic embossing wound up being the perfect tool for the project, allowing Ford to bring unique textured art into people’s homes at a good price point.
Ford’s fascination with bringing beauty into the home likely comes from her mother, an interior designer by trade. Growing up, Ford spent her weekends with mom redecorating rooms in their home. Her mother often brought bright colors and metallics into the home, an aesthetic that later found its way into Ford’s artwork.
Though Ford was always creative growing up, her father discouraged her from getting a formal education in art. Instead, she majored in economics at Dickinson College and dreamed of starting her own business one day. That business ended up being art.
In 2020, Ford moved to Tampa Bay and opened a studio/gallery space in Seminole Heights.
“I got it all ready and then COVID happened, and it hasn’t been the same since,” Ford told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. “And it’s not a huge foot traffic area either, so it’s become more my studio. Then if a client wants to come in and see it, they can schedule an appointment.”
After she’d been living in Tampa Bay for about a year, Ford noticed all the vacant storefronts in Hyde Park Village. So she emailed Hyde Park Village to find out if they host pop-ups. She’s arranged to pop up in the former Candle Pour space next to Color Me Mine for six months, from September 2021-February 2022. The timing is perfect for Ford, who does her best business during the holiday season.
While the Seminole Heights space has become Ford’s studio, the Hyde Park Village location will be a true gallery. Sort of. Although the primary goal is to show and sell her artwork here, Ford plans to create a laid-back shop vibe within her temporary Hyde Park space.
“Galleries scare people a lot because they’re usually very stuffy,” Ford told CL. “I want you to feel like you’re at home and it’s a shop with other gifts and home décor pieces there.”
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