WHAT IS AN ART ADVISOR?
Collecting art can seem daunting. Because of that, it isn't unusual for those looking to acquire a new work to consult with an art advisor before doing so. But what exactly is an art advisor? To find out, we spoke with a professional, Karyn Lovegrove, to get her insight on the role art advisors play, how they connect clients to galleries and artists, and the kind of background necessary to do the job. However, as invaluable as a great art advisor can be, they aren't required to begin collecting art you love. For a different perspective, we also spoke with Hanna Gisel, a strategic PR consultant for the art and design world and art-enthusiast beginning to buy art, to learn how she purchases works for herself.
ADVISOR: KARYN LOVEGROVE
What is the role of an art advisor anyway?
An art advisor is an educator, a guide, a connecter, a tastemaker, an art historian, a market forecaster, a deft negotiator – with endless patience and passion for art. The core principle of our advisory is partnering and collaborating with collectors to build unique and extraordinary collections. We put clients in front of the work of exceptional artists, we detail why the artist is historically important, we advise them on how to distinguish what is an exceptional work by that artist, and we arrange access to those artworks. We help our collectors find that intersection where an artist’s work is attuned to their own personal aesthetic passion, and, ideally, has a strong investment upside.
That's a really thorough approach. Can you tell me a bit more about the information art advisors give clients to help them make decisions?
To serve the unique needs of each of our collectors, our team is constantly researching artists in both the primary and secondary markets, and analyzing historical importance and investment value. We consult and gather documentation from our trusted network of colleagues, including gallerists, private dealers, art historians, critics, museum curators, estate directors, auction house specialists, and conservators. We visit art fairs at home and abroad, we attend museum exhibitions, auction previews, and visit artists' studios. With this foundation, we are able to provide tailored data about the artists who we identify as being attuned to each individual collector's particular areas of interest. A high level of scholarship is essential to provide inspiration and a deeper understanding of an artist’s practice and their context in the larger art world. Our in-depth market analysis of private and public auction sales and art fairs provides collectors with a solid basis for determining value and future investment potential.
Are there different kinds of art advisors?
Just as there are many kinds of art collectors, there are many different kinds of art advisors. Some are strictly transactional – facilitating purchases and resales – while others offer a highly customized level of collection management. This latter kind of advisor can offer conception and strategy, negotiation of acquisitions, in-depth provenance checks, authentication and condition checking, logistics (crating, transportation, insurance, framing, installation), conservation and restoration, appraisals, de-accessions, institutional loans, donations, and legacy and estate planning.
Why do people approach art advisor to begin with? Is it mostly because they're looking for some kind of guide?
The art world is an industry with an increasingly diverse and complex network of platforms and relationships. For anyone who is interested in building an art collection, there is a steep learning curve and they would be well advised to take advantage of the knowledge an experienced art advisor brings. A respected art advisor is uniquely positioned to navigate the art world's complex ecosystem. They possess the insight to identify the most important artists and the most significant artworks by those artists. Furthermore, their long-standing relationships grant the level of access necessary to acquire works by these artists – whether emerging, mid-career or blue chip. For more established collectors who already have a robust network, an art advisor will serve as a collaborator and partner, providing astute observations about the market, while also functioning as a collection manager, curating and maintaining holdings across various locations.
Circling back, you mentioned helping clients make solid investment decisions with their purchases. Why is that so important and how do you discover worthy investments?
Like financial advisors who recommend asset acquisitions, art advisors need to provide a return on their investment to keep the ear of their clients. Art advisors inform clients on how to determine value and opportunity before making a purchase, and we keep them apprised of artists’ market performance in both the private and public markets using websites like our go-to, Artnet, apps like ArtBnk, and global market reports are making art market data increasingly sophisticated and accessible.
How does someone become an art advisor? Is there a specific career path?
Working as an art advisor has become an incredibly desirable career with no particular path. I studied law and art at university. At the same time, I volunteered in a museum on the weekend and wrote for an art magazine. Once I graduated, I worked for a major art gallery; I became so enamored with the business that I felt compelled to start my own gallery. As my reputation for selecting artists whose art had a major investment upside grew, a number of corporations and private collectors sought my advice as to how to start building their collections. A strong academic foundation with a range of hands-on experience in art galleries, museums and auctions houses is not an unusual path for some of the more successful and highly regarded art advisors.
BUYER: HANNA GISEL
What are some of the most important factors that attract you to a work of art?
It’s hard to pinpoint and, as someone who is very much in the early stages of collecting, I imagine there are a lot of factors that I’ve never thought to consider. But I’m often initially drawn to a work by its formal qualities and the underpinning techniques. As someone who studied art history and been very lucky to work in the art world for a decade (but has absolutely no artistic talent) I’m always in awe of how artists can construct entire worlds, whether abstract or figurative, within a work. Those are the elements that usually first strike me, and then if I find myself growing super curious and wanting to understand more and more about the technique and the artist, that’s when I know I’ve found a work that I really love.
When you’re thinking about buying a work of art, do you turn to any resources to help make your decision?
Not really — at this early stage, my approach to art collecting is much more passion-driven than fueled by investment considerations, so I’m not digging into auction records or shopping around for comparable prices but relying more on my instinct to gather art that I love. Of course, if I encounter a work that interests me by an artist I wasn’t previously familiar with, I look into the gallery or galleries he or she works with, past exhibitions they’ve had whether at galleries or museums, and critical responses to their work to gain a fuller understanding of their practice and where a work may fall within their career. Often though, this information usually helps contextualize or ground a decision I’ve already made to purchase if I truly love the work.
What do you like the most about buying art on Platform? What parts of the experience do you like best?
The ease of the purchasing process was incredibly refreshing — to be able to enter a credit card number and shipping information and then have the work on its way to me is something I’ve never experienced before.