While at first glance the scope of art consulting is implied by the name, there is a lot to the discipline that the average person still may not know.
Within the art community, art consultancy is a well-developed industry. At Art Force, for instance, we have art consultants on staff with 20+ years of experience alone! Yet people on the outside looking in commonly seek further definition and understanding.
Well, friend, ask and you shall receive. Let us clear up a few things about art consulting as both an industry and a lifestyle.
Sometimes called art consultants, art advisers or corporate art consultant, the art consultancy industry has bloomed into an industry far exceeding advice. By utilizing data driven insights that improve customer and employee brand experiences the world-over, art consultants help organizations find their identity from physical spaces that wow, to artwork that aligns with their values and mission.
Look out, dictionary reference coming your way! Yes, Webster’s Dictionary defines “consultant” as “a person who gives professional advice or services to companies for a fee.” Interestingly enough, art consultancy doesn’t have a definition of its own in any online dictionary. Go ahead and Google it. What you’ll find is a mishmash of sources, generally seeking to educate people on why they should become an art consultant. (Which they should, it’s a pretty great gig!)
Back to it, then… Many existing art consultant definitions revolve around art consultancy actions and services. “Consultants are hired by corporations, hotels, health care facilities, smaller businesses and private art collectors,” one description on E-How reads. Another definition on WiseGeek.com says, “An art consultant is a person who consults individuals or businesses about which pieces of art they should acquire.”
While both of these definitions are certainly pieces of the puzzle, the industry would benefit from a clearer definition. At Art Force, our definition of an art consultant is, “An expert who matches a person, business, or mission statement with a piece of art; a professional storyteller.”
The reason we chose to focus on a person, business, or mission is because the world of art consultancy doesn’t fit any single mold. Part of an art consultant’s success is tied to their flexibility and more importantly, adaptability. Art consultants are creative problem solvers, after all, and no two problems are every exactly the same.
Art Consultant: From Unknown to Commonplace
Definitions are great, but let’s unpack the finer points of art consultancy to provide an even clearer picture. A big part of overcoming the definition hurdle is leading by example. Pioneers across any discipline jump this same hurdle enough times and eventually – boom! – they reach the same proverbial finish line of becoming familiar and commonplace. Consider any number of cutting edge disciplines and the same story rings true.
Astronauts, for instance, didn’t even exist 100 years ago. That includes the famous picture of our Earth from space, which wasn’t even available until the late 1960s. Talk about a game changing perspective! Likewise, seeking to define the internet 50 or so years ago might have gathered a response somewhere along the lines of, “Is that the netting within your swimming suit…?”
Such is the beauty of true innovation. It almost always creates confusion initially. With enough time and solid results, industries thus have the ability (and duty) to self-legitimize and become a part of everyday life by proving their utility to society. Especially in the 21st Century, this defining moment is certainly here with the popular rise of art consulting.
Art Consultant Services
At Art Force, art consultants are very much a part of everyday life and we hope the same will ring true for you soon if it doesn’t already.
Like any consultant across any industry, the breadth and value of services is often directly related to years of experience, creativity and taste, and many other intangible and tangible elements that put the value of an art adviser on a sliding scale. The goal of each art consultant then becomes to move enough of their offerings into the upper tier of service so as to become indispensable and admired in the industry.
Some of the top trade tools art consultants continuously build upon include:
- Artwork sourcing and procurement services
- Inventory and asset management
- Holistic brand alignment
- Evidence-based design best practices
- Relationship building
- Art installation services
- Research and development
Below, each of these services is explored in more depth in the scope of art consultancy, but please keep in mind that this is just a snapshot of a diverse and complicated tapestry or products and services.
Artwork Sourcing & Procurement
The first job of an art consultant is to responsibly source and procure artwork. What “responsible” means here is acquiring both fairly sourced and priced artwork. Since the value of artwork can change rapidly or slowly depending on industry trends, it’s the job of an art consultant to keep their finger on the pulse of the industry to help guide wise investments for the clients they serve.
Going to the source, the best art consultants work with a wide variety of local and national artists to discover hidden gems and “wow” pieces that have the power to change the energy of any space. Considerations for art procurement will also be guided by a client’s specific needs. For instance, artwork in hospitals often reference nature-based imagery on the universal experience of the outdoors, which not only crosses all demographics, but universally soothes and eases patients based on the power of evidence-based design.
On another end of the spectrum, it’s not uncommon for enterprise level corporations to seek abstract or sculpture art that challenges the viewer to think complexly and abstractly, leading to more creative thinking and innovation. From both ends of the stick, the aim is always to match the artwork to the environment, which enriches the end-user experience within its native space.
Inventory and Asset Management
For organizations with vast art collections, just tracking inventory and assets presents a unique challenge. Consider a 500,000 sq. ft. facility with 1,000+ pieces of artwork in numerous wings and locations, and the logistical implications become clear. Art consultants can provide inventory and asset management solutions to not only track the location of artwork, but catalog its value with time.
At Art Force, we utilize RFID tracking to help large clients meticulously track their artwork assets. When companies decide to move or expand, this information is invaluable for efficiency and expediency.
Art consultants know the value of visual storytelling better than most and can help organizations of all sizes tell complex brand stories through the power of art. Whether organizations employ the power of history walls, custom graphics, commissioned artwork, sculptures or thought-provoking abstract art, the decisions art consultants make are always unique to the particular story of the client they’re serving.
Just like each person’s home is a reflection of their unique style and taste, our work spaces should be a reflection of our values and beliefs. Without artwork, offices leave everything up for interpretation; an interpretation that often falls flat. Putting your best foot forward with carefully selected artwork demonstrates a level of brand alignment that actually uplifts brand recognition and customer and employee engagement and satisfaction.
Evidence-Based Design (EBD)
In healthcare settings, educational institutions and an increasingly widening field of industries even including prisons, museums, libraries and more, evidence-based design (EBD) utilizes data and empirical evidence to inform design decisions that positively affect outcomes.
In healthcare, EBD often focuses on images of nature, utilizes blues and greens, and implies growth to positively affect patient outcomes. In schools, EBD can help students stay motivated and focused. A wealth of knowledge and research exists around the subject, and as more becomes known, art consultants become better at driving tangible results that organizations can appreciate.
Much of the art consultancy industry is built on reputations and relationships, which comes to little surprise in a service-based industry where advice informs important financial decisions and investment.
People like working with people they trust, and this is really the beating heart of art consultancy. This trust is built through quality service, passing along savings, fair pricing, consistency and timeliness, courtesy, honesty, integrity and the usual things that make people like one another. If an art consultant’s heart is in the right place, their deepest desire will be to create a quality client experience. Like any other discipline, art consultants reap what the sew!
Art Installation Services
When you are dealing with large scale production, logistical problems can mount quickly. When’s the last time you procured, matted, framed, hung and tracked hundreds or thousands of pieces of art at once? When you think in sliding scales, it’s quite the production from start to finish regardless of project size.
With that said, art consultants with access to full-scale production facilities are at a major advantage.
The less time they need to spend hanging and framing, the more time they can spend researching, innovating and creating connections with artists and businesses that lead to better rates and options for everyone.
Research & Development (R&D)
Like any industry, staying ahead of the curve is critical for art consultants. The best breakthroughs often happen at the R&D level, where conventional wisdom is silenced and innovation is born.
Art consultants who are leading the pack will be constantly experimenting with different substrates, media and product offerings, ideally with a full-scale production facility and staff.
The second an art consultant feels comfortable, that’s often the time to innovate and create something entirely new. At Art Force, we pride ourselves on our agility and innovative spirit, constantly trying to create new and exciting products that can help organizations stand out.
The Art Consultant of Tomorrow
As a clear growth industry, the marketplace for art consultants is sure to expand in years to come. It will be important for art consultants to self-regulate and create an honest and open environment where innovation is driven by improving the customer experience rather than padding one’s pockets. Art consultants are driven by creative passion, and that passion helps improve the world one space at a time.
Cheers to art consultants everywhere from your friends at Art Force. We wish you well in your endeavors!