Choosing art as a profession is not confined to the creation of visual imagery. One can teach art, sell it, criticize, review, curate and even write about it.
There are those too, who counsel others on what to buy for a collection or how to enhance an interior environment or exterior design.
One such service, SCW Art Consulting, exists in our very own community and owner Shanan Campbell Wells (SCW) also owns Sorrel Sky Gallery; a not-so-coincidental pairing.
Campbell Wells graduated from Fort Lewis College where she focused on art history, management and marketing. Most art consultants earn their credibility in the art world before becoming independent consultants. In Campbell Wells case, it was with the Franklin Mint as an art scout. Her job was to identify art and artists in eight western states who could be commissioned to create collector plates.
Although it sounds glamorous, it requires hard work and an organized mind, plus traits that are both innate as well as learned on the job. Communication skills, said Campbell Wells, are paramount.
Learning how to listen is important, she said, but also understanding what is not said.
Its part aesthetics, part psychology and being sensitive to the clients needs. The differences between running an art gallery and advising buyers are polar opposites; a gallery represents the artist and the consultant represents the client, so when it comes to recommendations, there are a number of elements to consider. Keeping within budget is crucial, but so is appropriateness of the art. Art not only has to fit the décor, but when it represents a company or organization, it should represent the corporate culture, its identity and its branding. Art will subliminally send a message about the personality of the company and/or the locale in which it operates, while style, symbolism, and even color play a role in the art selection process.
One of SCWs most ambitious projects to date was filling the almost 450,000 square feet of the new Mercy Regional Medical Center. With more than 700 works of art, the hospital is probably the largest single art showcase in the Four Corners. On most projects, SCW attempts to use regional artists to reflect the companys interest in supporting the local community. At Mercy Hospital, works by Gerald Balciar, Stanton Englehart, Veryl Goodnight, Denny Haskew and Michael Naranjo are all on view.
Campbell Wells prefers not to discuss her budgets or fees, but most consultants work with numbers between $.75 and $1.75 per square foot of space and plan for about 60 pieces per 100,000 square feet.
An art consultant may serve as an investment adviser to clients and is expected to have a comprehensive understanding of trends. Businesses such as health-care facilities, hotel and restaurant chains and banking institutions may hire an outside consultant or even have an in-house curator. Finding just the right art might require attending auctions, art fairs and exhibitions around the world; sometimes even on private jets. Hmmm maybe it is a bit glamorous after all.
Stew Mosberg is a freelance writer and has written about art regionally and nationally. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.