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How to Build a Private Art Collection: Your Questions Answered by Expert Private Art Consultants

With cross-sector expertise as an international art consultancy, Artelier specialises in curating art for private clients, public art projects and corporate art collections. Our extensive experience working with global talent has given us unique insights into what makes a successful art investment opportunity. In this article, Artelier's specialist private art consultants address questions to ease your journey in building a private art collection, whether you are just starting out or looking to elevate it to new heights.

A fine art investment discussion in front of several oil artworks for art investment.

Building a private art collection is a sophisticated pursuit that demands a deep appreciation for artistic expression and a nuanced understanding of the art world. Whether you are a seasoned art collector or a newcomer, navigating this intricate landscape often leads to a plethora of questions. In this comprehensive guide, we have examined the most frequently asked questions to demystify the art of collecting, providing you with the knowledge and insights needed to curate a private art collection that reflects your individual taste and passion.

This article explores:


1. Why do art collectors work with private art advisors and consultants?

Art collectors opt to collaborate with private art advisors and consultants for a host of reasons. Typically, clients are in pursuit of dependable guidance and a turnkey project management experience, bypassing the complexities of delving into the art world themselves. Much like the process of engaging an architect or interior designer, the decision to enlist an art consultant is driven by the client's desire for the reassurance of a seasoned expert with extensive experience. This choice is rooted in the recognition and appreciation of the profound value specialist support brings to their art pursuits, saving them from the time-consuming intricacies of art sourcing. After providing their initial preferences, clients routinely entrust us, their art consultants, with the task of expertly curating and delivering artworks that precisely align with their unique criteria and preferences. In essence, art collectors work with private art advisors and consultants to ensure a stress-free and harmonious art acquisition process that delivers their unique criteria, whilst allowing them to fully indulge in their passion for art.

A private art collection with contemporary art, curated by an art consultancy

2. How involved are clients in the choice of art?

Some clients prefer to be more closely involved, and we enjoy providing them with comprehensive information to give a deeper insight into the process. For each project, we curate a tailored art proposal, based on a wide knowledge of the art market and bespoke new research. Our curators explain in detail the different values of artworks in the proposal – why certain artists are highly collectable, why some emerging artists are a promising investment, and why materials vary in cost. Presenting varying price points in this way, through contrasting comparable artists, helps collectors understand how valuation operates. As curators, we believe in being transparent about the qualities we look for in artworks, which clients find illuminating in addition to giving them confidence in our suggestions. More details on our specific criteria for artworks, against which we measure every new artist we discover, can be found here.

A gold art installation for art investment, curated by UK art consultants.

3. Who is the typical private art collector?

Across all our projects, our clients vary widely – as well as private individuals seeking art for homes and yachts, we also deliver hotel, corporate and public art collections. With this wide network, private clients therefore approach us from many different avenues: some find us through recommendations, some reach out to contacts within the design world who refer them to us, some become aware of our projects for other industries, and others discover us online. The onboarding process depends on how they find us, as this determines whether they are ready to collaborate immediately or are looking to learn more.

An artist touching their artwork given to a private art collector for their bespoke art collection.

4. What do art consultants consider at the beginning of the curation process?

Regardless of how a potential project comes to us, our curators evaluate the technical details and aesthetic requirements from the onset to ascertain whether the project is a good fit. This includes discussing the number of artworks, the scope of the project, timeframes and budgets. We also consult on the client’s preferences for artistic styles and materials, whether they are looking for classical or contemporary art, and if they prefer colourful or understated pieces. Sometimes, clients ask us to work with their interior designers, in which case we take time to consult with them and develop an understanding of their design concepts, the finishes, and how artworks can be presented and curated in situ. It is only after we are fully familiar with the project that we progress onto our consultancy processes.

a 3D minimalist artwork for a private art collection, delivered by expert fine art consultants.

5. How long does a typical relationship between collector and advisor last?

As each client is unique, there is no average length for a client relationship. It depends entirely on the needs of the clients themselves. We are often approached by clients when they have a specific commission or ambitious project that they require support with, hence the timeframe for fulfilling a specific project can be a couple of months or a couple of years! Once an initial project is delivered, a client may then come back to us every few years with a new opportunity. There are other clients, however, who always have upcoming projects of a certain calibre – a newly acquired residence, a yacht, an office – or who want ongoing management of their art collection across their portfolio of assets. These relationships are fostered over a number of years and continue to grow into an established partnership.

A selection of contemporary photographers displayed in an art gallery primed for UK art investment,

6. How do art experts build on an existing art collection?

If new clients come to us with an existing art collection, that can be a really helpful starting point. Their collection offers a window into their innate artistic interests, and also how their tastes have changed over time. An initial audit, reviewed together with the client, can uncover which pieces stand out more than others and have proved to be a better investment. Establishing which artworks resonate the most with the client also provides valuable insight into how we can help evolve their art collection. When clients have begun art collecting without a specialist, pieces may also have been presented in an unfavourable way; the art curation, framing, plinths or lighting may detract from the impact of a beautiful piece, rather than enhance it. We offer support for re-curating and presenting their artworks, to breathe new life into their art collection.

Art curation serviced delivered by private art consultants for a fine art collection

7. What is the best way to begin an art collection?

On the other hand, a client who is just beginning their art journey may not be as confident in expressing what they like and what they want to achieve. In these cases, our curators take time to understand their preferences and uncover considerations that the clients themselves may not have considered.

A fruitful starting point is to introduce them to the diversity of artistic techniques and styles around the world. Artelier has a database of 20,000 artists, collected over a decade by multiple art experts, which exemplifies the richness of contemporary artistic practices. As all artists have been individually reviewed and carefully selected from major art shows, galleries and beyond, the database is the ultimate edit – there are no ill-advised choices since the quality has bas been evaluated and overpriced pieces have been filtered out. After getting a feel for the client’s preferences, we present a selection from the database and refine the clients’ vision further. Occasionally, we walk clients around different galleries or fairs, showing them the breadth of what’s out there. This is especially useful for clients who are unfamiliar with viewing art regularly. Large-scale works or sculptures have a completely different feel in the flesh compared to a photograph of the piece, and so having experience viewing artworks helps develop an instinctual understanding of how any piece will look in person.

A 3D artwork for a private art collection dlivered by art consultancy service Artelier.

8. Should private art collectors buy pieces outside of their comfort zone, or what they like?

Buying outside of your aesthetic comfort zone is rarely advisable. If purchasing for their own private art collection, a client should have a genuine visual response to the artwork and truly love it, and so we would never put clients in a position that pushes them outside of their own tastes. A connection to an artwork transcends investments, trends or market advice, and it is our role as consultants to respect what the client authentically loves and find a way to combine that with sound guidance.

So, instead of asking clients to buy outside of their aesthetic comfort zone, we try to expand their choices by introducing them to the breadth of artistic production. Our curators show them styles, techniques and mediums which they may not even be aware of… or show how materials can be used in unexpected ways. With this approach, we encourage them to discover new art and evolve into fresh interests. For instance, on a recent project, we were approached by a client with traditional artistic tastes who typically collected paintings and sculptures in heritage materials, such as bronze and marble. They wanted to expand their portfolio and explore other contemporary practices, but for the pieces to still have an elegant and classical appeal. We showed them how alternative mediums such as refined textile pieces and ceramic wall art can still suit their aesthetic preferences, whilst feeling fresh and bringing something new to their collection.

Another client, who recently acquired a new Miami residence, is particularly interested in sustainability but has a very luxurious, high-end taste. They did not know how the two could merge, and so enlisted our help, as one of our specialisms is commissioning sustainable art. Contemporary high-end art and design is increasingly exploring the beauty of organic mediums, unusual textures, and exquisite craftsmanship, rather than glossy finishes and perfect form. Our curators selected collectable artists working with sustainable wood, sculpted paper, Raku-fired ceramics and biodegradable fibres, and contextualised their practices within global artistic traditions. This gave the client confidence in how sustainable materials can fulfil their aesthetic requirements within their home.

9. How does someone find an art consultant?

The relationship between client and art consultant is built on trust, and therefore it is important to spend time researching different firms or individuals. If you have contacts within the art world or design circles, this could be an excellent place to start; you can ask for recommendations from an interior designer or architect, for instance, as many use art consultants themselves or are at least aware of one with a solid reputation. A growing number of clients are approaching our curators after finding us online, through search engines or press. The internet can facilitate fulfilling new connections of this kind, but it’s essential to do due diligence as a potential client to make sure that the consultancy is right for the scope of your project.

Artist's Tobias Tovera work hangs on the walls of a private art gallery for a art collection curated by a fine art consultancy, Artelier.

10. What are the criteria to look out for when hiring a private art consultant or advisor?

An appropriate art consultant should stand out on multiple criteria:

  • References and Case Studies

Check if the art consultants can provide references and case studies, especially with well-known clients.

  • International Experience

Ensure that the art consultants have experience working internationally, as the art world is global. Look for their ability to collaborate with international artists, brands, and cultures to create exceptional collections.

  • Credentials and Past Projects

Examine their credentials and review their past projects. Have they successfully completed similar projects? Do they specialise in specific sectors or types of art?

  • Company Size

If they are independent, you are relying on the knowledge of one individual. This can be an advantage if, for instance, you have a niche interest and want to build your collection purely on that, and they are a unique specialist within that specific artistic field. A solo independent art consultant can, however, be a detriment if you are looking for a more diverse collection, in which case you will benefit from a slightly larger firm that can bring the expertise of multiple curators.

  • Project Size

Evaluate the size of your project. For substantial undertakings like procuring 30 pieces for a residence, ensure the art consultant has experience managing such projects, including residential, hotel, and development contexts.

  • Custom Art Commissioning

Art consultants who oversee commissions are able to effectively communicate with the contemporary artist and ensure that the piece is delivered to your expectations, on time and on budget. Reputable art consultants will likely have a large amount of this information available, either on their website or upon request.

  • Information Availability

Reputable art consultants should have ample information available on their website or upon request. Many offer free initial consultations to determine mutual compatibility with your project.

Paper art created by a contemporary artist primed for fine art investment

11. What are some questions clients should ask of potential art consultants during their selection process?

For a successful relationship with art consultants, transparency is very important. Consider the parameters of your project and the services you need – to explain what you are looking for from the art consultants, you must be clear on your vision and the practical considerations first! After explaining these to the art consultants, ask about their fees and pricing structure, as each art consultancy operates differently. A clear understanding of how you will pay them will help you decide if they work in a way that is suited to you.

Another step in assessing art consultants’ suitability is asking to see a scope of services document, beyond what is available on their website. They should be able to provide you with a tailored package and have the resources to develop that in line with your needs. It’s crucial to go beyond vague explanations – as well as their costs, to understand how long it will take, and what are the deliverables. Will they be responsible for shipping, insurance, installation, or presentation solutions? Rather than leaving these open, it’s useful to know from the onset what exactly can be expected of them.

Something often forgotten by prospective clients is taking the time to understand the full business model of the art consultancy. There are an increasing number of art galleries or dealerships offering art consultancy and art advisory services, but the reality of what they offer is somewhat different. Since their business model depends upon promoting artists that they represent or selling pieces they have in stock, they will be more preoccupied with their selection of artists than building a bespoke collection. Individuals or firms who are primarily art consultants, on the other hand, will undertake fresh research to suit your tastes and requirements and draw on the wider art market.

A art collection displaying contemporary abstract art

Ready to build your private art collection?

We hope this article has shed light on the reasons why collectors choose to collaborate with private art advisors and consultants, offering insights into the world of art curation and collection management. For further guidance, we invite you to download our industry-leading industry guide to art collecting.

With decades of experience and cross-sector experience, Artelier Art Consultancy is here to provide you with expert guidance for developing your art collection. Acting as a 'personal concierge', our specialised team of art consultants will utilise their international expertise and deep understanding of the art market to tailor solutions that align with your unique vision and objectives. Whether you're an individual collector, a corporation, or a public institution, we are committed to delivering exceptional and timeless artworks for investment, at reasonably priced valuations. With global contacts and a bespoke framing service, we have a range of tools to help cultivate the collection you are after.

To explore how Artelier can elevate your private art collection, or if you need any advice or further information, get in touch with us today.

a private art collection of sculptures ready for art investment or beginning an art collection.


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