Today we’d like to introduce you to Carlos Reyes.
Carlos, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
For more than a decade, I worked as an executive in customer retention management for a company in the Automotive Industry. After the crash of 2008, I spent three years trying to reinvent myself. I became a licensed real agent in the midst of the largest “underwater” real estate market in history. Next, I turned to art. Art was always something I loved. By combining my graphic artist background with my experience in business management, I set out to open a creative business. I was living in both San Diego and the Joshua Tree area for nine years before I decided to settle permanently in the small desert town of Yucca Valley. I opened ArtFx & Furnishings in February of 2012. ArtFx & Furnishings is located nine miles west of the entrance of Joshua Tree National Park.
I opened in a recession and in what was considered a distressed area of San Bernardino County. I acquired a building in the historic Old Town area of Yucca Valley while the neighborhood was in blight. The area had character and would hopefully rebound in time. My concept was simple. I would sell my art, my designs, and art from my personal collection. I also planned to provide artist consignment in an area rich with artists and become successful by providing an outlet for local artists. In addition, I had a purpose to brand the “Joshua Tree” to the Town of Yucca Valley, so I created my very own logo and tagline. The logo consists of a Joshua Tree inside of Heart which I call “Heart of the Hi-Desert.” My tagline is “Shop Closer to Heaven in the Heart of the Hi-Desert” mostly because of our beautiful skies and very unique landscapes.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Unlike most artists or dealer consignment contracts, I was not going to charge a monthly fee for space in my gallery. I wanted art items to blend as an entire collection rather than a dedicated gallery space for each artist. Nine years later, I am still not charging other artists a monthly fee and only charge a commission for items sold.
I sold out of my art and my personal collection fairly quickly and filled in the open space with works by other artists quicker than I could create my own items. I grew to be supporting 150 local artists. Paying commissions on most of what was sold in the gallery was not going to be profitable. The administrative work required was taking up more of my creative time than I had planned. I wanted Desert and Joshua Tree-themed art for the tourist visitors to the area. When I asked, most of my artists declined to create what I had in mind. I had to do things differently to keep creating something sustainable for my long-term goals.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
In a two-year period, visitors to the Joshua Tree National Park had grown from 1.2 million to 3.5 million per year. During that time, I had been designing items specific to that market. I wanted to be able to create art in multiple mediums.
Before opening ArtFx & Furnishings, I had traveled to Indonesia and had spent time in Bali. I had the opportunity to return to Bali and develop a collaborative relationship with many artists there. I had the ability to learn various art forms I had not worked in before and use these artists’ tools and studio space to bring my designs to life. I could carve molds and build prototypes and let the other artist do the production runs. I designed and produced jewelry, paintings, sculpture, mosaic, fabric, glass, and small souvenir items in greater quantities than I could do working alone and running a shop. I spend three to four months a year in production in Bali during the slow season in the California desert.
My designs and inventory have been well received in the desert. The “Hipster” trend combined with the growth of the vacation home rental market has led to unexpected business growth in the Joshua Tree area.
In the nine-year period since opening ArtFx & Furnishings, I have created the most extensive selection of Joshua Tree Jewelry and home furnishings in the area and most likely the world. My Jewelry line is available at the Joshua Tree National Park Visitor’s Center, online at www.joshuatree925.com, at ArtFx& Furnishings in Yucca Valley, and ArtFx Palm Springs.
I have been developing a clothing line through my brand called Joshua Tree Clothing Company. I have been using some of those design patterns for interior design projects. Many of the vacation home rentals in the Joshua Tree area have home furnishing items and artwork from the gallery in Yucca Valley.
In early 2020, I opened a second location in downtown Palm Springs. Palm Springs was shut down due to the covid pandemic for much of 2020 and early 2021. ArtFx Palm Springs primarily features my work and I am not doing artist consignment at that location. The gallery has been well received by the residents and visitors to the area. An invitation to display sculpture at the Lunar Fashion Week Show at The Sonoran Palm Springs in April was established through a visitor to ArtFx Palm Springs. My work is expanding to include Mid-Century designs which are popular in the Palm Springs market. I am looking forward to the post-covid recovery of business in the downtown area of Palm Springs and sharing my work in a new market.
How can people work with you, collaborate with you, or support you?
I am currently working with over 100 local desert artists from Joshua Tree to Palm Springs and with over 200 plus artists out of Indonesia to continue to curate both of my locations and keep my design endeavors alive.
- Email: GotCarlos@gmail.com
- Website: www.JoshuaTree925.com & www.ShopArtFx.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/hidesertarts
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/hidesertarts
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/hidesertarts
All Images ©Carlos Reyes