Liberties gallery goes global to get out of a jam

“Making the place profitable after all of this is going to be a hard one.” The owners of Jam Art Factory on Patrick Street tell The Liberty about their plans for the future. 

Jam Art Factory, an art gallery and eclectic store set in the old Ivy Trust building on Patrick Street, is owned by brothers Mark and John Haybyrne, who opened its doors in 2011.

“It was around the time of the recession that my brother, John, had just been let go of his job,” Mark Haybyrne of Jam Art Factory says. “I had started doing a bit of painting and we just decided to go for this space.”

The opportunity arose when a relative of the brothers pulled out of renting the space at the last minute. As soon as they signed the deal, the pair began quickly working on transforming the old building into a creative space for independent Irish artists and within two weeks they were open.  

Jam Art Factory, Patrick Street. Photo Credit Mark Haybyrne 

What originally started as an art gallery that sold canvas paintings was quickly reshaped as a store that focused on original digital designs and prints – more suitable for the tourists who called in on the way on visits to the cathedrals up and down the street.

“For people to bring paintings back to, say America, is going to be much harder than bringing back a print – the artist still signed the print and there were many limited edition pieces,” explains Haybyrne.

“It was a big shock to the system”

Mark Haybyrne on the pandemic closing their doors

“It was a big shock to the system” when the pandemic hit last March and the brothers were forced to close the doors to Jam Art Factory and its sister store in Temple Bar.

The lack of tourism in the area, once they are allowed to reopen, is a real worry to the owners. “We even noticed, at Christmas time, a huge drop in the number of people compared to the years before. Making the place profitable after all this is going to be a hard one,” says Haybyrne.  

According to a survey conducted by Red C 83% of Irish consumers believe they can help the local economy by buying guaranteed Irish brands, whilst 63% said they prefer to buy guaranteed Irish brands from local businesses during this time.

This statistic materialised for Haybyrne when the business “received some really lovely messages of support from people, mainly posting on our Facebook page.”

So what’s in store for this store? The brothers have been busy and are currently launching a new website CrossTownPrints. The new venture aims to take on 10 international cities and artists, such as Fuchsia Macaree and Izzie Creates.  

A percentage of all sales through CrossTownPrints go towards a charity that aims to improve the area. For example, with the New York project, “5% of all the sales we make will go back into funding an art programme for inner city kids” says Haybyrne.  

The next city that CrossTownPrints is looking to capture is Madrid. When asked about the recruitment procedure, social media seemed to be the number one go-to.

Instagram is a great way to reach out to people,” said Haybyrne. Another successful way to find new people and introduce them to the project is through artists’ recommendations.  

The main barrier is language: “It’s a slow process but that it’s fun trying to navigate our way through all of that, ultimately it leads to new professional relationships.” 

The brothers hope to welcome back the residents of Dublin and indeed, the world. They say they have discovered artists over the last year whom they look forward to showcasing in person.

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