We had the good fortune of connecting with Lindsay Ekstrom and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Lindsay, how does your business help the community?
It is very important to me and my team that LX Artworks Gallery is an asset to the DFW community. When we opened the gallery, my head gallerist and I sat down and brainstormed about how we would use the gallery to uplift our community. We came up with several ideas including free monthly art talks where a member of my gallery team or I teach about everything from the meaning behind my art, to how to start your own art collection, to art history.

We work with entities like the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Foundation, churches, charities, and school districts to host fieldtrips and add to the enrichment of local art students. Admission to the gallery and our public programming are always free and we’re open Tuesday-Saturday so anyone can stop in view, learn, and experience fine art.

We’re also working to curate and bring in talented artists from around the world so local artists, students, and members of the community can be inspired by art that’s new and different.

What should our readers know about your business?
-Please tell us more about your business?

LX Artworks is a fine art brand I started with my husband after I saw significant commercial success from selling my original acrylic on canvas paintings. The paintings are portraits of rebels, founders, or icons and include stories relevant to that person’s life and career. We realized that the art I was making connected with people whether they could afford original paintings or not, so we wanted a way to share my art with people from every economic background and education. We did that by building LX Artworks the business. On top of being a high-end art brand that sells my original paintings that range in price from $20,000-$60,000, we sell museum-quality prints and other small collectable items that feature my work and tell the stories of these amazing people. We have something in every budget range starting at $6. These items are sold online, in boutiques, and through close to 100 vendors across the country.

In November of 2023, we opened our own gallery, LX Artworks Gallery, in the historic McKinney Cotton Mill. It is part permanent installation of my available original works as well as a place to shop our canvas reproductions and collectables. I had previously met with collectors to see my original paintings in my private studio by appointment only. Owning the gallery myself also enables me to sell my original paintings directly to the consumer without a third-party gallery or broker involved. I love being connected to my collectors and by hiring my own world-class gallery team I can stay connected to my clientele. I was raised by two entrepreneurs in Alaska. So, I saw amazing things in nature and learned so much about business, but we didn’t spend time in museums or galleries. That’s why I wanted to create an attractive and free space where anyone can come and interact with fine art.

LX Artworks Gallery is open to the public from 10-6 Tuesday through Saturday at the
McKinney Cotton Mill.

-What sets you apart from others?

LX Artworks is pretty unique when it comes to fine art galleries and brands. Fine art is very rarely a direct-to-consumer product, with commissioned works being the exception. There is almost always a gallery or broker in between the artist and collector. However, since I had gained a group of collectors before I really saw myself as a professional artist, I found a loophole in that system. This has given me a lot of liberty to make my art, my business, and my gallery exactly what I want them to be, which is a rare privilege in the art world.

Because of that, when we set out to open LX Artworks Gallery, I wanted to build it with the local community in mind. I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable when they walk in. This space was built for you. I know what it’s like to walk into a gallery and not feel like I belong—Like I might say something that sounds uneducated. I am so lucky to successfully sell my art and have collectors, but I am still learning about art, art history, and the people I paint, so our gallery is created as a space to ask questions, comfortably share your opinions, and enjoy yourself. Zero pretense. We wanted to be a business that both contributes to and elevates the DFW arts scene and that helps build and uplift the strong arts scene that exists north of Dallas.

When we were looking for a place to build our gallery, lots of options came to mind. We could have built out a space on a high-street in downtown Dallas. We also looked at a few spaces on the Downtown McKinney Square. I had a studio on the square at one point and really loved the vibe, but then I came across the McKinney Cotton Mill Arts & Design District. It is a rapidly developing community of working artists and I think it will
be the next DFW hotspot, so I wanted to get in early before it blew up.

The Cotton Mill is amazing because it is a place for the public to interface with artists and shop directly from them. I saw that and chose to build my gallery here so that I could help strengthen this incredible community. Our unique location sets us apart from the rest and allows me the freedom to grow my brand the way I want to.

-What you are most proud of or excited about?

One of my favorite things about what I do is getting to share the history and stories I learn from my research on each person I paint. People really connect with the figures I paint, from Abraham Lincoln to Dolly Parton. I love talking one-on-one about how they listened to Elvis with their grandpa, watched Princess Diana get married on TV, or were inspired by Muhammad Ali throughout their upbringing. My art really fosters conversation and connection.

That said, a lot of the time, I’ll finish a piece and as soon as it is done, it’s packed up and shipped off to its collector in Puerto Rico, New York, or London. Before we had the gallery, the public didn’t get to see much of my original work in person, and I had to wait for an art fair or show to get in front of people and chat about it.

Now that we have the gallery, which is connected to my studio, I can pop out and talk to collectors, visitors, and fans whenever I feel like it. I can also put in my air pods and tune everything out when I need to as well. It’s honestly ideal.

Each time I finish a piece, we hold an art talk where I reveal it to the public before it is sent off to its new home. It’s at these events that I’ll spend hours chatting with a fan about their connection to someone I’ve painted. I just love it and I’m so excited to be able to do this more often now that we have the gallery.

-How did you get to where you are today business-wise.

I would say it was mostly by building up demand for my work over time to the point where now my commission list fills up almost immediately when it opens. This happened gradually as people bought my art and took it to new places around the world. Their friends would see it and want a piece too and things kind of went from there
until eventually I had a diverse list of really amazing collectors.

A lot of success has come through word-of-mouth. For example, my dear friend and collector Jessica McCarthy had been collecting my work – unbeknownst to me. Her husband, Mike, is the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys so they moved to Dallas from Green Bay, Wisconsin. After the move, she was excited to learn that I was in DFW and we were able to meet. We instantly became close friends—our energies are so similar and harmonious together. She commissioned me to paint a portrait of Stevie Nicks for her entryway. Eventually she connected me to Jerry Jones and we collaborated on a piece for him as a gift to celebrate the draft that season.

Another collector of my work, Ricky Phillips, is an interior designer who owns Homeology on the Square in Downtown McKinney. Robert Herjavec—one of the investors from Shark Tank—saw a print of my portrait of Queen Elizabeth while shopping with Ricky. He wanted to buy it for his wife, Kym Johnson of Dancing With the Stars. So, Ricky calls me up and is like “Robert Herjavec from Shark Tank is buying a print of your ‘Rich Queen’ and I said, “tell him the original is available!” And that’s how Robert Herjavec and Kym Johnson became collectors of my work.

Another element of our success is the many partnerships we’ve developed with retailers and boutiques across the US that sell products featuring my art.

Within my business model one aspect or client cannot exist without the other. There’s the collectors who commission and buy my original works. They help me forge a place for myself in the contemporary art market. Then there’s also our collectors of the reproductions and products like stickers and t shirts; their purchases allow me to go to art fairs and hang shows across the country to introduce my work to new markets and restart the whole cycle again. Everything my team and I do is to serve all groups of my clientele because they are of equal importance and value to us.

-Was it easy?

I don’t think any creative field where you must put yourself and your work out there is ever easy. It’s very vulnerable and requires a lot of flexibility and grit; but I was never alone in the process of building my career as an artist.

My husband, Aaron, has been with me every step of the way as LX Artworks’ business director. We’re now at the point where we’ve been able to hire a professional and dedicated team who have been able to use their knowledge and talent to propel LX Artworks forward. So, while building a business is never easy, I’ve had an incredible support system throughout the entire journey.

I would also like to mention the Casey family who own the Cotton Mill. Terry Casey and his two sons, McCall and Chandler, have been instrumental in creating a space for me where I’ve been able to build LX Artworks the way I dreamed it should be. Terry’s vision for the Cotton Mill and what it someday will be has inspired not only me, but all the other artists and creatives at the Mill. His vision for creating an arts and design district in McKinney has truly empowered me to grow my business.

-What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way?

Over the past five years, I’ve learned that organic growth is always best. I’ve grown from painting in my garage, to a tiny studio, and another bigger studio, and now finally my very own fine art gallery. In our fast-paced consumer culture where a product or brand goes viral on social media then fades into oblivion as the next trend arises, I’ve been extremely blessed to have steady growth. I really feel the support of each follower, fan, and collector. That’s why local patrons mean so much; they’ve been here with me every step of the way.

-What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?

I started painting the historic subjects my work focuses on when I needed help through a dark time. I was struggling from post-partum depression, and I found solace through learning about the lives, experiences, and difficulties that these larger-than-life figures had gone through.

Before that point in time, I had never picked up a paintbrush or drawn. I learned to paint because I wanted to create an image of the relatable person I had just learned about, whether that was Abraham Lincoln or Frida Kahlo. The whole process was really healing to me. So, whether I sold the portraits or not, I had already received the value I needed.

The stories and life experiences of the historic standouts I paint are inspiring and timeless. I think they are just what we need in a world that can be quite dark and hard to navigate. It is my life’s work to tell these figures’ histories in a light that is relatable and relevant. I want to help people realize that there are important lessons that can be learned from and related to more in the life of Ben Franklin than some Youtuber they may follow.

These stories belong to all of us. They are our history as humans; collective tales that belong to humanity, and I love sharing them in a fun visual way. I hope to make them relatable and appealing so that people will want to connect with them.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
DFW has an incredible fine art scene that has been built and facilitated by some incredible fine art collectors who’ve used their wealth and resources to benefit the community, which is so noble. I love taking friends and family to the Rachofsky Collections at the House and the Warehouse. Because my collectors are such a big part of my career as an artist, it’s cool to see the impact that art collectors can have on a community.

DFW also has a lot of awesome art museums and galleries as well with the DMA, Dallas Contemporary, Kimbell, and Fort Worth Modern at our fingertips. I love popping into local galleries for insight and inspiration as well. Most of them hold free monthly gallery openings that anyone can attend, and I highly recommend checking those out. I really love Samuel Lynne and VSF. The artists they curate, and their programming are really inspiring for me as someone who’s just starting her own gallery.

Of course, a trip to DFW isn’t complete without a trip out to McKinney to shop the Downtown Square and visit the Cotton Mill Arts & Design District. You have to stop by Mary’s Mountain Cookies on the square and visit Homeology. The colors and designs are so inspiring! Afterwards, grab a coffee at White Box Roastery in the Cotton Mill and check out all the incredible local artists here. I highly recommend a class at Glaze Ceramics! Plus, you can stop by LX Artworks Gallery where I might be able to see you and end up chatting about your connection to Stevie Nicks or Albert Einstein for while.

Website: www.lxartworks.com

Instagram: @lxartworksig

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lindsay-ekstrom-971226116

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lxartworks/

Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/lx-artworks-gallery-mckinney

Youtube: @lxartworks9456

Other: You can also follow @lxartgallery on Instagram, this is the account for our brick and mortar art gallery in McKinney.

Image Credits
Mallory Kee Photography, McKenzie Johns, Jacob Hensley

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