Creative Lives Podcast — Sarah Williams on founding her own arts consultancy, Soho Curious & Co
Our guest this week is Sarah Williams, founder and director at arts consultancy Soho Curious & Co. Sarah’s career path is a great example of how you can make a creative career work for you, without a formal education. Having dropped out of a degree soon after starting, she decided to make her own way early on – moving to London with few connections, little in the way of a plan and zero knowledge of the industry. Since then, she’s been on a journey of discovery that’s seen her go from restaurant manager to art buyer, and even move to Australia for a while to work as a photographic producer.
Founder and Director, Soho Curious & Co (2019–present)
Creative Consultant, ArtBuySarah (2017–present)
Head of Art Buying, M&C Saatchi (2015–2017)
Art Buyer and Producer, Williams Production (2012–2016)
Art Foundation, North Oxford College of Art and Design (2001–2002)
After studying for an art foundation, Sarah began to seriously consider whether the traditional university route into industry was for her - as a believer in the value of real world experience.
In favour of gaining real world experience in the creative industry, she moved to London, where she gained managerial experience in the restaurant world before undertaking an administrative role in an advertising agency. Determined to find a more creative role, Sarah went through a recruitment agency to land an administrative job in advertising, and soon discovered the role of an art buyer.
“Having face-to-face contact with people is so valuable. You’re much more likely to get a job with someone when you've met that person before.”
The knowledge Sarah gained during this time, eventually landed her the role of head of art buying with M&C Saatchi, planting her firmly at the centre of both the art work and advertising industry. Although Sarah recognises the importance of art buying and commissioning roles, she explains that jobs in this area are now something of a dying breed.
For those who are equally unsure about whether the university route is for them, Sarah has some advice on gaining experience – as well as the kinds of qualities she looks for when considering potential applicants for work placements. As well as some recommendations for anyone thinking of going freelance and working for themselves.