The process of hiring an art consultant for the first time can be a daunting task. Whether you're looking for someone to help with a private art collection or you're sourcing fine art for a project, it can be challenging to find the right professional. A good art consultant will understand the brief, have experience working on similar projects, be extremely familiar with their corner of the art world and will expertly curate relevant art that immediately elevates the space.
In this article, we will look at the key steps involved in hiring an art consultant to assist you in sourcing fine art, as well as some of the fees involved.
1. What is an art consultant and what do they do?
An art consultant is an individual who works with private and commercial clients to provide expertise on the selection, acquisition, or conservation of artworks. Art consultants can be hired for many purposes including building a collection; sourcing artwork for a commercial project; or helping with a large exhibition.
Experts in their field, consultants have knowledge of the art market, different artists and styles, and can assist in curating a private collection or entire exhibition. An art consultant will also be aware of any potential risks involved with acquiring new artworks such as authenticity concerns or damage during transportation.
2. Why should you work with an art consultant?
When you start researching for yourself, you will find that acquiring art is not always the most straightforward process. First, you will have to sift through the millions of artists available online working in all genres and styles with varying degrees of quality.
Many artists will also be overpriced for what they offer and the gallery sharks will be eager to sell you the artists they represent rather than finding something that meets your needs. Having a trusted partner with your best interest at heart can therefore help you navigate quickly and with ease, ultimately ensuring you have access to better and more affordable art.
Another advantage is that many art advisors won't charge any upfront fees but rather take a percentage of the final sale. They will also be able to negotiate the best prices on your behalf meaning that oftentimes it will not cost you more than it would have to purchase the artwork on your own, with the added benefit of having expert advice.
Finally working with a professional will make your search easier because they will already have extensive knowledge of the type of art you are looking for. Here at Artelier for instance we hold a database of over 15,000 contemporary artists in all genres that our curators have carefully selected over a decade. This means that when a client comes with a particular aesthetic in mind we can quickly research that style in the database and then follow this up with more research into up-and-coming artists.
Image: Artelier Art Consultancy
3. How to find the right professional (top tips):
Finding the right professional for your needs is important as who you hire will have an impact on the type of art that you will get. Most art advisors will have a specialism or a type of client they usually work for, they could be an expert in contemporary abstracts, 18th-century landscapes or curating art for hotels and corporate offices. It is important to find someone who has expertise in the type of art that you are looking for or the type of project you are working on.
When finding the right consultant you can look at directories online like this handy list we've put together. If you are working with interior designers and architects you can also ask them for their recommendations. Another way to find someone is to check on LinkedIn job search where you can see their credentials and past projects as well as search by country and region.
Lastly, it is also very important that they have a good reputation and list their credentials on an online profile or website. When looking at their online profiles look for case studies showing the art they've curated in situ, this will give you the best feel for whether or not they are a good match for your needs. A good art consultant should have curated pieces in a way that takes your breath away, it should be new and interesting and displayed in ways you may not have thought of.
Image: Artelier Art Consultancy
3. The process of hiring an art consultant for the first time
Art consultancy services will differ depending on the company you are looking to hire and the type of project you are working on, however, here is a general breakdown of what to expect:
The first step is to reach out to your chosen consultant and have a discussion about your project or collection. This will allow you to share more information about what you are looking for and also let you and the consultant know if it's a good fit. Ideally, you should be looking for someone with experience in the type of art you need, and with whom you have a good rapport.
Understanding your project vision
Communicating your project vision in as much detail as you can from the start is crucial. The consultant will need to understand what you are looking for in order to make the most relevant suggestions. This is a stage where it is important for the consultant to understand what is important to you, whether it is the cultural context within which the art will be placed, or rather the aesthetic quality of the piece. The more information you relay from the start, the better.
Sit back and wait for proposals
Once you have shared all the relevant information you can sit back and wait for the first proposals to come in, this usually takes around two weeks, depending on the scale of the project. This will be followed by a series of back and forth communication where you can give your feedback, ask questions and make decisions. It is important to remember that the consultation process should be interactive, you can both share your opinions and thoughts about what's been proposed as it allows for a dialogue and clear understanding before artworks are commissioned.
Commissioning and Installation
Once you have agreed on a final proposal it is usually time to commission/purchase the artwork. If you are commissioning new pieces then the art consultant will undertake all of the communication with the artist on your behalf (saving you a lot of time and headaches). If you are purchasing existing artworks then your art consultant will organise the purchasing and transportation of the pieces to your specified location. Finally, you can request for the artworks to be framed and hung for a complete turnkey service.
4. Fees involved in working with an art consultant
The costs involved in working with an art consultant can vary by consultant and project so the best thing to do is to simply ask them as part of the introductory call how their fee structure works.
Common approaches would include working on a retainer fee with an hourly rate for extra services. This means that you will pay them a lump sum, usually per month or year to work as your trusted advisor and representative in the art world. Another approach more suited to temporary projects will be for the consultant to work on a commissioning structure taking a percentage of the final sale. Lastly if you are simply seeking a consultation on a project and would like to source the artwork yourself, then there will simply be a consultation fee.
It is important to be upfront about your budget for the project as this will greatly inform the type of art that will be selected. If you are too vague, what can often happen is that the artists pitched in the proposal will be too overpriced. This will then lead to having to find substitute artists who would do that work for a cheaper price which will have an impact on the final look and feel.
5. Common mistakes people make when hiring art consultants
Hiring an art consultant is not something most people will have significant experience in, here are a few common mistakes to avoid so you can be ahead of the curve.
Not researching the type of art that you are looking for, or your consultant's experience is a common mistake people make when hiring someone. If your chosen consultant does not have any previous experience with what you want then there is no point in hiring them, rather do more research and find someone who has worked on projects similar to yours before.
Another common mistake is not being clear about your vision from the start. The time to communicate what you want and have a discussion with your consultant about it is at the initial call or introductory meeting. Don't be afraid to ask for their advice as well, it is okay to still be at the exploratory stage but make sure that your communicate that clearly.
Finally a big mistake people can often make is to not be open to their consultant's suggestions, rather they come in with a very clear idea of what they want and don't listen if the art consultant suggests something different. This is where having an open mind about your project vision will help you achieve better results!
Image: Artelier Art Consultancy
6. Final installation of artworks
When you have a trusted advisor the process of selecting art for your project should become a smooth and seamless one. The art consultant and their team will be working hard behind the scenes to put together a beautifully curated selection of artworks that will meet your brief and budget. Depending on your project you should be able to finalise the artwork selection and installation in a few weeks or months and you should be ready to enjoy your new artworks.
Need an Art Consultant?
If you are still looking for a trusted art consultant here at Artelier we have worked on sourcing art for a variety of clients such as private collectors, yacht owners and large hotel projects. We specialise in commissioning contemporary as well as oversized artworks and murals known as Artist Walls. Our team has worked on all types of art projects, whether commissioning a single piece or curating works for an entire hotel. If you are interested in finding out more do not hesitate to get in touch or browse through our website to discover more about us.