At first glance, the scope of art consulting might seem pretty simple. Like the name implies, they provide advice about art. But what does that really mean? Who needs art consultation? And is it a viable job?
As it turns out, art consultancy a well-developed industry that offers artists, designers, and art enthusiasts the opportunity for challenging and creative work. At Art Force, we have consultants who have made art consultation their job for over 20 years!
Art Consultant: A General Definition
Art consultation has grown into an industry that has far exceeded expectations in many ways. Sometimes referred to as corporate art consultants or art advisers, art consultants are generally hired by corporations and businesses, hotels and health care facilities, as well as private art collectors.
In essence, art consultants help their clients acquire art to help them shape their physical spaces and “wow” customers, provide employees with the perfect atmosphere, and improve overall brand experience.
Whether they are helping a hospital create an environment that helps patients heal faster (which they do!), or helping a “cubical farm” make their office a more pleasant and productive place to work, art consultants help organizations express their mission and values through art and decoration.
Flexibility and Adaptability
The world of art consultancy doesn’t fit into one mold. Every job is different and unique. And it takes more than just good taste.
Art consultants can’t just create what they were “inspired” to create on that particular day. They can’t walk into a job willy-nilly and consult using only their individual tastes and sensibilities. Along with their keen artistic eye and nuanced tastes, art consultants must learn about their clients and respond to them using evidence based practices and data driven insights to provide creative solutions.
At the end of the day, art consultants are creative problem solvers, and their success will in large part be tied to their ability to be flexible and adaptable.
At Art Force, our definition of an art consultant goes beyond the standard definition. Like the rest of the industry, we describe our consultants as “experts who match a person, business or mission statement with a piece of art.” But more than that, we define our art consultants as professional storytellers.
All art tells a story. And all spaces carry stories within them as well. Art consultants take the stories found within art and integrate that story into the spaces they create. Whether it’s a story that suggests “this is a place for healing” or “this business is young and vibrant” or “this law firm is impressive and no-nonsense,” art consultants move through a process of figuring out what that story is and how to infuse that story seamlessly into their client’s spaces, creating far more than simple decoration.
Art Consultant Services
Just like with consultants from any other industry, an art consultant’s worth comes from their individual tastes and creativity as well as other intangible elements. But in order to be successful, art consultants must master the top tools and services of the trade.
See below for a snapshot of some of the most important tools and services that every art consultant should master.
Artwork Sourcing & Procurement
This is the part of the job that most people think about when they think of art consultancy — to responsibly find and acquire artwork for their clients.
The value of artwork changes over time, sometimes rapidly and sometimes gradually. It is the art consultant’s job to understand the market and what the realistic worth of a piece of art is today and what it will be tomorrow, allowing them to guide their clients toward making a wise investment. To be well positioned to do this, art consultants will need to work with a wide variety of artists and art providers.
Art consultants will need to be able to find the perfect piece that will “wow” clients and provide the perfect energy for a space. These decisions should be guided by a client’s specific needs. For example, hospitals tend to prefer art with nature-based imagery, which is appealing to all demographic groups and is shown to soothe patients and aid in the healing process. Counter to that, it’s not all that uncommon for corporations in the business of innovation to seek out abstract and complex pieces of art and sculpture, as this type of art has been shown to spur creativity and innovation.
Whatever the client, whatever the goal, the aim is always to source and procure artwork that is a perfect match for the environment and the goals of the client.
Inventory and Asset Management
Some jobs will be small and easy to manage. Others will be incredibly large and difficult to manage. Imagine a huge facility such as a hospital or a corporate skyscraper that needs to be fit with more than 1,000 pieces of artwork in numerous wings and locations each with a different focus and feel. Simply tracking the number of art pieces can be daunting, let alone where each of them are located and what each of them are worth. Art consultants can make themselves quite valuable by providing inventory and asset management solutions for tracking artwork and cataloging its value over time.
At Art Force, we make use of RFID tracking. This allows our art consultants to easily keep a detailed track of artwork, which proves to be quite valuable when companies decide to relocate, renovate or expand.
Holistic Brand Alignment
Brand alignment is where the art consultant’s storytelling skills must come out. Art consultants must be experts at visual storytelling and help organizations tell complex stories through commissioned artwork, custom graphics, history walls, sculpture and other three-dimensional art pieces.
Just as our homes reflect our unique styles and tastes, our places of work should as well. Without artwork, an office can come off as drab and uninteresting — or worse, as lifeless and unsympathetic to employees’ and clients’ needs.
By carefully selecting and placing artwork in a way that aligns with an organization’s goals, art consultants can take brand alignment to a whole new level, lifting brand recognition at an unconscious level and increasing engagement and satisfaction for both customer and employee.
Evidence-Based Design (EBD)
A widening field of industries including healthcare facilities, educational institutions, libraries, museums, and even prisons are beginning to use evidence-based design (EBD), which makes use of empirical evidence and data to positively inform design.
In the field of healthcare, EBD makes use of greens, blues and images of nature that imply growth and health. In schools, EBD can be used to help students feel more comfortable and at ease so they may focus on their work and remain motivated.
There is a growing body of research regarding EBD, and the best art consultants will not only be aware of EBD, but also how new revelations can be applied to help their clients find the best solutions for their spaces. EBD also offers art consultants and businesses with a tangible way to measure the efficacy of art placement and design.
Art Installation Services
Art consultants aren’t only in the business of helping others pick out artwork, they are also in the business of installing that art. And this can mean not just procuring but also matting, framing, hanging and tracking hundreds or thousands of pieces of art all at once. Which is not to mention the logistical complications that can arise when acquiring and installing a large sculpture, fountain, or other piece of three dimensional art. There are many moving parts when it comes to art installation, and the art consultant needs also to be an effective manager of this process.
As such, art consultants who have the access to a full-scale production facility — such as Art Force — are at a major advantage over others who may be working alone and with no support.
Research & Development (R&D)
Art consultancy may seem like it simply demands a good eye and good taste paired with the ability to understand client needs. But, even though this is all important, art consultants must do more by remaining informed about innovations in EBD as well as new techniques and products available to the market. In other words, they need to continuously engage in research and development.
On top of all of the other responsibilities an art consultant must juggle, this can seem like a daunting task. This is why art consultants who are backed by a full-scale production facility and staff — such as what is provided at Art Force — are at a considerable advantage. With their hands freed from certain tasks, such as matting and framing hundreds of pieces of art, they are better positioned to constantly experiment and innovate in different substrates, media and other product offerings.
The Art Consultant of Tomorrow — Could It Be You?
Art consultancy is a clear growth industry. The market is clear to grow in the years to come. If you are an artist, a designer, or just an art enthusiast, art consultancy just might be the right work for you.
If you are interested but bewildered about where to start, Art Force Academy offers a wide range of courses and a path to certification that will get you moving down the right path. Equipping you with practical knowledge, actionable steps, and a full-service production facility, Art Force Academy is your best first step toward becoming an art consultant.