Cale Fair


Di­rec­tor of strate­gic part­ner­ships, Nu­vango Gallery and Goods

We’re a con­cept art gallery and fash­ion lifestyle brand that has a re­tail lo­ca­tion on Queen West. We man­u­fac­ture all our prod­ucts at our head of­fice in the Junction. A tra­di­tional art gallery is lo­cated on the sec­ond floor at the Queen West lo­ca­tion, and the main floor has all our prod­ucts, which range from fash­ion leg­gings, tank tops and T-shirts to throw pil­lows, art prints and iPhone cases.

My job has in­volved over­see­ing the Nu­vango launch, in­clud­ing the full ren­o­va­tion of the space in the Bur­roughes Build­ing, hir­ing staff and get­ting things up and run­ning. I also han­dle re­tail part­ner­ships and col­lab­o­ra­tions – gen­er­ally sales. We do a lot of white-la­bel cus­tom work for brands like The Bay and Red Bull as well as strate­gic mar­ket­ing part­ner­ships in which both brands stand to gain some­thing.

I at­tended Con­estoga Col­lege in Kitch­ener, where I took ra­dio and tele­vi­sion broad­cast­ing. Seven years ago I joined the or­ga­ni­za­tion Ge­laSkins, which re­branded as Nu­vango.

I’d spent four years in the ra­dio busi­ness and felt a dis­con­nec­tion from that world. I took off for a year, and I could have gone free­lance in the media busi­ness. But this com­pany was start­ing up in Toronto and it was on the tech side, which was re­ally in­ter­est­ing to me – plus there was full-time work avail­able.

To be hon­est, I won­dered at first if I would bounce be­tween busi­nesses. But this one kept grow­ing and thriv­ing, and I was able to work on projects with big com­pa­nies from around the world. I’m just a small-town guy try­ing to hus­tle in the city, so I kept go­ing with it.

I had more or less zero knowl­edge of the art world prior to join­ing the com­pany. I re­ally cut my teeth learn­ing about art on my own ac­cord. I had been with the com­pany for six years, but I still knew there was more to learn.

In 2014, I was head­ing up artist re­la­tions for Nu­vango – we’re an open com­mu­nity for artists to cre­ate prod­ucts on de­mand – and we were in net­work­ing mode, so I wanted to brush up on my art ed­u­ca­tion. I de­cided to take the con­tin­u­ing ed pro­gram at U of T in art and art buy­ing. There was an in- class por­tion, but it also in­cluded go­ing to dif­fer­ent art gal­leries and stu­dios. It was a very ca­sual process where the pro­fes­sor, Natalie Ribkoff, who’s an art buyer for TD, went through the ba­sics, tak­ing us through the dif­fer­ent art eras.

We were able to go places like the Hef­fel Gallery in Yorkville and Max Dean’s stu­dio in the east end to talk about the cre­ative process, ex­pe­ri­ences, how artists and gal­leries make money and why they do what they do. Natalie gave a con­text for how art is bought and moved around, and then the artists talked about how they make a liv­ing.

There were a lot of peo­ple in the class who wanted to ed­u­cate them­selves about buy­ing art be­cause they were in­ter­ested in it but didn’t know where to start. For me, I was able to net­work a lit­tle bit. Given that we op­er­ate in a con­tem­po­rary pop art area, it was cool to get ex­po­sure to the fine-art world.

Over­all it gave me an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the art world and the scene in Toronto. There’s stuff on the high- end side that is re­ally in­ter­est­ing, and through my cur­rent role we get to see so many peo­ple on the ground floor hus­tling to build up their ca­reers.

It just ex­panded my world.

The pro­gram at U of T in art and art buy­ing gave a con­text for how art is bought, and artists talked about how they make a liv­ing. It ex­panded my world.

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