How a young artist became a consultant to Microsoft Vancouver

Christina Sumie Hirukawa sold her first watercolour painting at 15. But a car accident in university changed her direction

Christina Sumie Hirukawa, 29

Art adviser and consultant, October Inventory


Life Story: At 15, Christina Sumie Hirukawa sold her first watercolour for $150, to her math teacher at West Vancouver’s Rockridge middle school. Thinking she’d found her calling, she began making and selling mixed-media works, which helped fund her tuition and art supplies for a BFA in painting and drawing at Concordia University in Montreal. In 2009, at the end of her fourth year, Japanese-born Hirukawa was hit by a car. During her recovery, she became interested in art criticism and writing. After completing an MA in art history at the University of Glasgow, Hirukawa became a certified art appraiser in 2012, then returned home, where she ran fundraising auctions at North Vancouver’s Presentation House Gallery. In 2014 she launched an art consultancy based on charging an hourly retainer instead of sales commissions, both to increase artists’ profits and to clarify the cost of her services to clients.

The Bottom Line: Hirukawa has appraised, valued and sold more than $5 million worth of art worldwide. She is working with Microsoft Vancouver Inc. and eight other corporations to develop collections, special projects and events. Hirukawa is also associate director of the Portfolio Prize, founded by notable Vancouver artists to support emerging talent; adviser on the FarmBoy Fine Arts fund, which leases museum-quality artworks to high-end hospitality and corporate spaces; director of development at The Next Big Thing incubator program, founded by Hootsuite Media Inc. CEO Ryan Holmes; and a mentor to fellow 30 Under 30 winner Tara Bosch through Futurpreneur Canada, which supports young entrepreneurs.