This article is excerpted and summarized from an interview with artist Leslie Neumann for our members. Leslie generously shared her experience working with art consultants. The key points here are provided by Leslie and with include my annotations.
If you have a solid studio practice and welcome the challenge of commissioned work, art consultants might be a good opportunity to help you make a living.
What Art Consultants Do and Who They Are
Art consultants are people who seek and buy art for a client, whether it’s a healthcare company, a private collector, or a hotel.
The difference between art consultants and designers is that, generally speaking, a designer is responsible for the whole job and not just the artwork. They’ll do everything from fabrics to lighting, accessories, and furniture.
Designers know design. Art consultants should know art, and how to show it properly.
Art consultants might specialize in placing artwork—period. End of story. Or they might be involved in all aspects of a project.
They almost always want to commission work from you rather than buying a piece you already have, so you must be willing to make work on their terms.
The difference between art consultants and galleries is that art consultants are not brick-and-mortar outfits. They don’t usually have a physical space.
Leslie’s Tips for Finding Art Consultants
Above all, you should be networking with other artists and asking if they’ve worked with art consultants and how they found them.
Keep in mind that artists are protective of their sources and don’t necessarily want the competition. Asking the name of the consultant outright might prove unfruitful.
You should Google “corporate art consultant” or “art consultants” and pore over the sites you find to see what kind of work they place. Study their projects and staff so you can add this knowledge to your networking experiences.
Pricing Your Work for Art Consultants
Your contract with a consultant might be a 60/40 or 50/50 split. Keep in mind that you have the power to negotiate, and agreeable terms might vary from project to project or consultant to consultant.
After you’ve decided on terms, you must be able to quote your prices.
If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written on pricing, you know that you have one price and one price only for your art. This is the retail price.
Some art consultants will ask you for a wholesale price, but it isn’t in your best interest to work that way.
If one of your pieces sells for $3000 at a gallery, it should also sell for $3000 through a consultant. If you have a 50/50 split, you each earn $1500 from a sale. But, if you tell the consultant that you just want $1500 from the sale, she could sell it for $4000 and you’d never know.
You have to be the one controlling your prices, not the consultant.
What’s Your Experience?
Have you worked with a consultant? What tips can you share with other artists?