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Demystifying Art World Phrases:  Art Consultant
Mirror, mirror on the wall, which painting is the fairest of them all?
Career 30 Oct 2018

Me: Mirror, mirror on the wall, which painting is the fairest of them all?
Mirror: Ask your Art Consultant.
Frieze Art Consultant
Image via Artnet
Art collecting and investment is on the rise. Spanning from the growth of online sales to private collections and museums around the world, the practice of buying art is becoming more popular than ever. With the increase of new buyers comes the need for knowledgeable Art Consultants, because what constitutes a valuable work of art is a little trickier than a simple matter of taste.

But what does an Art Consultant actually do?

The Art Consultant or some may say Art Advisor, is essentially a walking, talking art encyclopedia, with eyes and ears for their client, because understanding the art world isn’t so simple. Do you think the buyer of Bansky’s ‘Girl With Balloon’ knew what to do after it was publicly shredded without an Art Consultant…?
Bansky Shredded Girl With Balloon via Engadget
With years of experience and countless contacts in the industry, Art Consultants can be a treasure trove of information for those who have discovered a new passion for an art style or artist and want to learn more. For a special piece for a home or a valuable investment, sourcing fine art is no easy feat and getting access to the right galleries or dealers can be tricky for those just starting out as collectors. Through industry connections, Art Consultants can grant access and expert insight into the ever-changing and confusing marketplace, whether it be through visits to art fairs, private sales or galleries.
Now you know what an Art Consultant is, you are probably wondering how does one become an Art Consultant?

Key qualities and qualifications for the role

An Art Consultant should be an expert on fine art with vast experience and the scholarship to back it up. Someone who has worked in an art gallery, museum, auction house, or another art institution with an education background in art history and the art market is favored. In addition to having the right experience and knowledge, an Art Consultant should also have a great rep in the art world and enviable contacts with galleries and other art sources. In other words, you can’t simply become an art consultant overnight, it takes a lot of networking, art knowledge and experience.

What Makes a good Art Consultant

To become a great Art Consultant, you need a wide skill set and a lot of experience. To start with, an Art Consultant should be an expert listener and someone who can understand the special needs of their client. In addition to this, an Art Consultant needs to be business savvy with great knowledge of the art market, because buying art is, after all, a business transaction. An Art Consultant should, therefore, understand the market value of a work, and be able to do a solid background check on pricing, quality, and origin, and be an excellent negotiator. You are probably thinking at this point, wow that’s a lot of work, but wait this is not where the job ends. A decent and thorough Art Consultant also needs to carry on with work after the sale, from framing, installing and lighting the art piece to cataloguing and insuring. See what we mean now by wide skill set?
Screen Shot 2018-10-29 at 21.19.38

Where and how to find a solid clientele

The key to finding clients for Art Consultants is a no-brainer and like any other client heavy role. An Art Consultant needs to find opportunities and a platform to display their knowledge and show their skills. This can be via social media, writing columns, conducting art tours, giving lectures, teaching classes or even better talking really loudly at an event about how great they are so everyone can hear! Another great way is by word of mouth, asking current and former clients for referrals and speaking to collectors is a great place to start. Lastly, connecting by attending industry events, gallery openings, auctions, and lectures, and meeting with fellow art world professionals, is another great way to be seen and heard, so get out there!

How much can an Art Consultant earn?

In the United Kingdom, the average salary is £32,263 per year. For entry-level positions, it begins at £23,000 and for the most experienced workers earning up to £45,000, stated by Neuvoo. In the United States, the average annual salary of an Art Consultant is $45,382 – a statistic found from PayScale. In general, salaries vary greatly from $28,337 to $87,866 per year.

The downside to becoming an Art Consultant

It is a hard and long road to reach the top of the Art Consultant career ladder. Compared to other positions in the art field, consultants are not up there with the high earners like auctioneers and museum curators. Studies also show that a large majority of Art Consultants move on to other positions in the field after a short tenure. All factors to keep in mind if you looking for a job with longevity, as well as a good starting salary.

Text by Peigi Mackillop

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