Could your artwork be appropriate for an office building or hospital environment? Would it fit well into a hotel or restaurant venue? The corporate art market is opening up to many different mediums, providing opportunities for artists working in fiber, clay, glass, metal and wood, as well as hanging mobiles, sculptures and 3-dimensional wall pieces.
Art consultants are frequently the connection between artists and their customers, who are interior designers, architects, facilities managers and others who need art to define space and create a mood in their special environments.
Consultants may come from a background in framing, managing a gallery, or working for an art publisher. Usually they have a knowledge of art history and interior design. Their services include meeting with clients to understand their goals, tastes, visions and budget restrictions, and to make recommendations that fit within these parameters. A consultant typically takes 50% of the selling price of work selected or commissioned from an artist that they represent.
How do you meet art consultants? Do a web search to find consulting firms in your area, and contact them. Many times they will mention if they are looking for fresh talent. LinkedIn is also a great resource, and artists can make connections by joining discussion groups such as “Creative Art Consultants” and others. Professional Artist Magazine (formerly Art Calendar) also has a listing of consultants.
Do Your Homework
Artists interested in getting into this lucrative market will need to research it first, and know that their work is appropriate. The biggest mistake artists make when submitting work for consideration is that they do not present a body of work which fits the corporate environment. Read trade publications such as American Style, Art World News, American Art Review and Art News. Check out websites of art consultants to find the type of work they have placed and who their clients are.
Design Center Showrooms
Design centers are great resources for designers, art consultants and art specifiers. These showrooms are typically located in large urban areas. They commonly use a 3x mark-up offering professional designers a 50% discount. You sell your piece to the showroom for $100, they price it at $300 and give a 30-50% discount to their professional clients. Designer Society of America has links to a listing of showrooms.
There are many considerations that clients use in selecting work for their spaces. Art for healthcare environments, such as doctor’s offices and hospitals is one niche which has become very specialized. In fact, there is a whole science to the selection of visual art that helps to calm and soothe stressed patients, and interior designers can be certified in healthcare design. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) is also known for featuring artwork on the cover of the magazine.
Offices, public spaces (such as lobbies, entryways and ballrooms) and other areas often need a series of work by the same artist to work in groupings, or to hang along a corridor wall. Does your portfolio reflect your ability to provide this?
Care and maintenance are an important issue for curators of corporate collections. Make a point to provide clear and simple instructions. Your track record as a good investment is another plus. Add information to support your pricing structure such as auction history, awards, collector support, etc. Having a broad color palette and color matching service helps attract these clients.
Visit newly furnished buildings to get an idea of what is currently being purchased as corporate art. Stay informed about today’s color and décor trends, but focus on developing your own vision and unique style. Hone your skills so that you have an excellent body of work which will catch the well-trained eye of the consultants and designers you want to impress. They are always looking for new talent and fresh work to present. When submitting your portfolio, carefully read the guidelines and follow them.
What to Expect
When partnering with an art consultant, artists should have an up-to-date artist statement and website showing their current work. A business relationship is based on mutual trust and an understanding of each other’s goals. As you work together, you will be discussing upcoming projects and their scale, subject matter, color, and materials. Flexibility is key, as many times projects need quick turnaround times or site-specific work.
Photo Credit: American Style Magazine, photo interiors of New Morning Gallery, Grovewood Gallery, Asheville, NC