Dealing with art is an upscale affair, and most players in this market―gallery owners, visual arts organizations, corporate and private collectors, artists―seldom function without the assistance of a qualified art consultant. For buyers, a qualified adviser not only helps to get the right artwork as per your taste, but also helps you through the buying, insurance, valuation process, and more. If you are an artist, the assistance of a consultant may help you project your work at the right place in the right manner, and also guide you in terms of creating and incorporating ideas that are in vogue among buyers as per the latest trend.
First off, determine why you need the services of a consultant, or to be more specific, what are the goals you wish to achieve with a professional assistance as this. A qualified and worth-hiring consultant will come with loads of experience, education, and perhaps will be a private collector, as well. This business is all about contacts and long-term relationships with the dominant rulers of the market, and an art adviser knows his way well through the otherwise high-flown and complicated process. The expertise is a result of years of education, experience at working in art galleries, auctions houses, and working for private dealers. In other words, these professionals know the rules of the game, inside out.
You're going to be dealing with art, and mind you, understanding art is not an overnight process. Therefore, be prepared to go through the following points to brace yourself for this task.
If you've been there in the market for some time, it wouldn't be difficult for you to seek a few referrals. Visit art galleries and auction houses, or speak to some museum professionals, and you are sure to find some referrals, perhaps even meet them in person! You can also start by visiting or browsing through the Association of Professional Art Advisors and the Art Dealers Association of America to get some authentic referrals. Why we say so is because not everyone who claims to be an art consultant is actually an art consultant! You have to be wary of the fake imitations.
After you have got some names and referrals, it would be better to know more about the consultant(s) through their website, blogs, and other sources. Add them in your social network. Subscribe for their newsletter. Check their credentials and affiliations. Or, if possible, follow them on Twitter! All this would also tell you of the type of art they specialize in. Yes, not all consultants would be suitable for your need. While some would have their specialization is modern and contemporary artwork, others would be well-versed with the French Renaissance art. To ensure that you hire the right person, it is crucial for you to do your homework, which is discussed in the next point.
This mainly applies to those who are new in the field as buyers. You may be a great admirer of art, but not that great a selector. While a qualified consultant will definitely help you with what you should get, you must also be clear in terms of what fascinates you. If you're unsure of that, we suggest visiting a lot of art fairs, galleries, and museums. Look at the different kinds of artwork, and look at a lot of them! Try to know about the provenience of the works that holds your attention. Be familiar with the value of the artwork, its resale evaluation, and market appeal. You don't have to understand everything completely, but this homework is necessary for you to at least form a base of your conversation with the adviser. After all, it is you who needs to instruct or give him an idea of what you need from his services.
Mind you, availing the services of a professional consultant may be extremely costly, after all, the entire affair is an expensive one! The top consultants may also charge high fees, most of which would depend upon the nature of work that needs to be done. Most of them work on commissions, around 10% or more, of what you buy through them. Otherwise, you may hire their services on an hourly rate, as well. Depending upon the kind of artwork you seek, it would be essential to determine a budget, because when it comes to this market, there is no maximum level!
This is like an extended homework you must do when you meet the consultant. There are some that would prefer you to send them your questions online before you meet them, so that everything is clarified face to face during the meeting. Some of the questions you must ask, include:
- Tell us about your experience and specialization.
- How does the process work?
- What are your working strategies?
- What is your fee structure?
- What advice would you give to your new clients beforehand?
- What are the common mistakes made by new collectors/artists?
- What kind of artwork is in vogue lately?
- What are some of the best places to find some phenomenal artwork?
- What kind of artwork appreciates in the market these days, and what segment is undervalued?
- How can you help me maximize my budget?
This would perhaps be one of the most crucial decision-making factors. A consultant is not just someone you have hired, this person would be your eyes to make you see the right art, your legs that will walk you through the intimidating pathways, your friend that will make you get some of the best deals in the business through his years of experience and connections. Therefore, it is important that you gel well with the choice you hire. If you find the consultant to be too intimidating, or too overpowering, it is best to look for other options. In most cases, the relationship between a client and consultant is semi-permanent, therefore, it is very important for you to be open and comfortable with each other.
The world of art dealings is an artsy but competitive one! To avoid all the legal and logical intricacies that are involved in buying/selling artwork, hire a professional who has the ability to complete your ideas, finish your goal, and sense your taste.