Entrepreneur Profile: Tripoli Patterson

by Evelyn Pelczar

Tripoli Patterson has fused his love for surfing with his love for art as he has presented over 20 shows in his Southampton based gallery called Tripoli Gallery of Contemporary Art. Making waves across the board, he continues to showcase emerging and established artists from a local and international base.

Who are the people that inspired you to follow your dreams?

My mother, Terry Patterson, has always been supportive and encouraging to all my visions. Everyone that I look up to and admire who have successfully followed and created their dreams. My god-mother Lisa de Kooning who has been very supportive and shown me sides of the art-world that only she could.

Was there a turning point in your life that led to your current direction in the art world?

Curating my first exhibition at the age of 20 in 2005. From that point it was clear that I had a natural ability to see talent in young artists, cohesively display the art work, and generate attention and excitement around an event.

You started off with surfing then a t-shirt line, and now worked your way into the art world, how do you plan to keep expanding your brand into more industries?

I feel as though the early t-shirt business venture that I did with my little brother was really educative in developing something from scratch. From there, I was able to better understand what went into creating a brand from the ground up and that later helped me in the founding, and branding, of Tripoli Gallery. Now that I am able to see the natural development of the Tripoli Gallery take place, I am confident that I am in the right industry to properly share my vision to the world. I would like to be able to stay open enough in that vision, however, to expand the gallery's brand into more industries as they present themselves to me.

Surfing has many picture perfect moments from the ocean to sunrises etc., how does surfing influence your career in art?

Surfing helps me as an individual to have a clearer understanding for the world that we live in. It brings me back to nature and allows me to see the subtleties that exist in the world around us; the moments that can pass by unnoticed if we forget to see them. The ocean teaches me so many lessons that I am constantly trying to relate to my life outside of it, including the art world. One of the things that I realized while surfing this morning was that it teaches you how to be calm and relaxed under pressure. If you can achieve that and do so with style and grace, your looking good in both worlds.

Describe some of the artists that attract you the most and why.

I am very attracted to Eric Freeman's painting because I feel that he manages to subtly portray his vision to people without being to imposing or overwhelming. He demonstrates simplicity on the surface yet there's a much deeper complexity to his work that is only revealed upon the viewer's further investigation of the painting and understanding of the artist himself. I am also very drawn to the work of Joan Mitchell. I love the way she creates chaos in order to then give it order and navigate her way out of it. I see freedom and honesty when I look at her work. The process in which she applies her paint, or rather spreads it, is hidden behind her bold colors. Alice Neel is another artist I am attracted to. The way she was able to capture the quirks and personalities of her subjects is second to none. She depicted them honestly and gave them a dimension that would be unobtainable through a photograph.

What do you look for in the artists that you showcase in your gallery?

I look for honesty. I want to be able to believe the process of an artist's work because to me the process is much more important than the end result. When I can see an artist lost in the work I believe they are allowing themselves to be more connected to that of the larger picture and disconnected to the individual object at hand. I think that the different mediums that artists choose to use are simply different means to say something about their own personal life. I love, and am fascinated with, stories of the human race –objects of beauty that are placed in rooms to match other things bore me.

What is your biggest tip for entrepreneurs?

Deciding what it is that you want and then asking for it.

5, 10, 50 years down the line when you've achieved everything you aspire for today, where do you see yourself?

I see myself stepping back from the machine that I created, which is by then self propelling and only rarely needs my personal attention, and resuming the simplistic life of the earth and the fundamentals. I see myself redirecting my passion from my business towards my future which will hopefully include a family of children, and doing everything in my power to launch them into the world with all the necessary tools in order to be confident and loving beings.

Who’s career inspires you the most?

I think that Jay-Z's career is pretty inspirational. He was able to rise from the ground up and build a career for himself against all odds. I also admire how he has been able to transition from being a rapper to being a business man and reinvent himself from being the talent to being the executive who is able to also manage talent and give privilege to those with talent that were born without privilege.

What is your dream accomplishment that you wish to achieve?

I wish to continue growing Tripoli Gallery and open outposts all over the world. By doing this I will create a global network that will enable me to showcase the artists that I believe in and love to an international audience without demographic restrictions.

Be sure to check out Tripoli Gallery of Contemporary Art for more information.

Evelyn Pelczar | Elite.