As a child, Tim Collom couldn’t sit still, except to doodle and draw in his notebook. Although his active spirit and creative mind sometimes caused problems in the classroom, Collom said it’s become the foundation for a 20-year career as a respected Realtor and celebrated artist.
“Naturally, as a kid, I couldn’t sit still. I think that’s a tendency you find with a lot of salespeople,” he said with a chuckle.
Twenty years ago, Collom’s effervescent personality caught the attention of an agent who thought the then-21-year-old had the personality to make a splash in Sacramento’s real estate market. As a new student at Sacramento State, Collom took the agent up on his offer, promising to give it at least one year.
“I fell in love with the industry and the job and everything about real estate,” he said.
Although Collom loved serving his clients, he began to look for an escape from the stresses of staying successful in an unpredictable career, which included winding down every evening with a glass of wine. However, what began as one drink, turned into a habit Collom knew he needed to break.
“It became excessive and I knew I had to stop that,” he said.
So, Collom turned back to his first love — art. He transformed his garage into an art oasis, complete with a drawing table, multiple easels, studio lighting, paintbrushes, palettes, and tubes of brightly-hued oil paint. Collom painted landscapes, animals, and scenes from everyday life, such as people driving boats on Lake Tahoe.
“For me, it’s about staying loose and colorful. It always goes back to those two things,” he said. “I love the act of art, I love the act of painting, and if I put too much pressure on myself, then I don’t enjoy it as much.”
As time went along, Collom began building an art following on social media, using marketing techniques he learned from years of marketing listings as the leader of the Tim Collom Real Estate Group, a Dunnigan, Realtors team.
“In art, it was very similar to real estate in how you market yourself using social media, which is such a critical part of being successful,” he said. “I guess, luckily, I fell into social media early. So, I started doing my own thing, and it started to catapult me into [partnerships with] different companies.”
Collom began organizing his paintings into collections and opened an art gallery East Sacramento where he sells and displays originals, prints, and commissioned works. As he started gaining more traction in the California art scene, Collom caught the attention of international home decor brand West Elm, who now carries his coffee table book and paintings in select Santa Monica, San Diego, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, and Sacramento locations.
Just like real estate has improved his art business, his art business has helped Collom create and cultivate a creative real estate brand that’s known for unique advertisements and client gifts that include Louis Vuitton and Lululemon collaborations.
“For us, as a group, we’re always trying to do things that are off trend or aren’t typical,” he said. “We co-brand with other companies like Louis Vuitton and Lululemon to do client gifts and having our logos in different places that you normally wouldn’t see a real estate company.”
“I’m always interested in uniqueness,” he added. “You can see the companies that are trying to be creative and do things that are really different are standing out and getting great results.”
Collom’s innovative approach to art and real estate gained him his biggest break yet — an art gallery in the Sacramento International Airport. His work, along with the works of other California artists, will be seen by at least 12 million travelers this year.
“The airport executives saw my stuff, and they said they wanted something that represented California, and they liked my bright and colorful and textured art,” he said after noting he went through a 1.5-year application and planning process.
Collom said he’s excited about what the SIA gallery will do for his art and real estate career since he co-brands both.
“I co-brand between my art and real estate career, so when people see my name, they already know I do both,” he said. “At first, I was really apprehensive about that. Will my real estate clients just think I paint all day? Will my painting clients think I’m only doing this for a little bit? But, I’ve done both, and it’s worked out really well.”
For agents who are struggling to tap into their inner artist, Collom has one piece of advice: Stay true to yourself.
“What’s important is staying genuine to yourself and your brand,” he said. “A lot of people are watching on the internet, and they’re trying to be something they’re not necessarily comfortable with.”
“For anyone, whether you’re marketing million-dollar houses or you’re doing tutorials for other agents, stay true to yourself. Don’t do things that are off-brand just to get attention and likes.”
We’re highlighting agents with extraordinary stories through a new series, Agent Plus. Do you know someone who should be highlighted for their work inside and outside of the office? Send your nominations to AgentPlus@inman.com.