Collector Interview: Francis Mill

As part of stARTup’s VIP Program, pass holders get early access to the fair on Friday night. They also have the opportunity to join some special pre-fair events. One of them, Tuesday April 23rd, is a special tour of San Francisco art dealer and collector Francis Mill’s home — a former 1937 warehouse in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood.

Photography by David Duncan Livingston

Photography by David Duncan Livingston

In addition to opening up his home, Francis graciously accepted an interview with Fair Director Ray Beldner. Together they discussed living with and learning from the art in his collection and what currently inspires him.

What was your first piece that you ever purchased?

The transaction of purchasing a work of art is not memorable to me, as it really has nothing to do with the “collecting” of art. Therefore, I have little to no memory of my first art purchase. My earliest recollection is of the making of art, at 4 years of age.

Does your collection have a particular focus?

The focus of my art collection is learning and absorbing as much as I can. Specifically, the core of my collection centers around the mid-20th Century and later. It is a period that I studied in art and architectural school and it has continued to have a great influence on how I think and look at art and architecture. Therefore, I like my continued investigations into this period.


How do you find new art / artists to collect?

My life has actively involved the arts since my days in school, so how I find art is irrelevant to me. What is more important to me is to learn how to look. Keeping my eyes and mind open is the key. It may sound simple, but as important as this is, it is uncommon.

What comes first: the art or the space? How do you live with your art?


A very good question for an architect and artist. Art and architecture are interwoven and inseparable for me. My continual looking at art actively involves both. But to answer further, I would say that the art comes first for me, always. I consider architecture and space as art as well, so my living with art is truly a daily integration of art and space. Living with art for me means a lot of looking, thinking, and questioning why we treat our habitat and environment the way we do. Are we dictated by conventions or are we allowing our true functional need for space and art to take priority over conventional thinking?

What currently inspires you and your collection?

My thirst for learning and putting myself outside my comfort zone is what drives and inspires me, my space, and my art.



All stARTup artists are vetted by an independent jury for each fair to ensure that art collectors, enthusiasts, and professionals are discovering and purchasing works from today's top independent artists in the market.

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Q&A by Fair Director Ray Beldner and Content Curator Mica England