This week WPA spoke with Jessica Naresh, Art Consultant with The Art Registry and WPA Board Member, about art advisors, their relationships with artists, and their potential to advance an artists career.
Washington Project for the Arts: Thanks for speaking with us today. So, what role do art advisors play in the art world, exactly? What do you do?
Jessica Naresh: It depends on the client’s needs - art advisors can play a large or small role in the acquisition of artwork. Often a collector doesn’t have the time to devote to studying the market of an artist, or to research the myriad options available when beginning to collect art. An advisor can help guide their search and seek out things that they may not have known about. Depending on the client’s knowledge base, the advisor can help educate the client so that they can make an informed decision. Through The Art Registry, I work with clients to find suitable pieces for their home or corporate collections. Often my clients don’t have time to go to galleries or artist studios on the weekends, so I do that for them and then bring a selection of work back to their space so they can see it in its intended location.
WPA: Does an art advisor act like an agent for artists?
Naresh: I wouldn’t say that advisors are like agents because ultimately the advisor’s goal is to find what is right for their client. I think galleries function more as agents for artists. That said, advisors can be another avenue through which artists can gain exposure for their work.
WPA: Why would an artist seek a relationship with an advisor? How can artists benefit from contacting advisors?
Naresh: Because advisors can have access to buyers who don’t visit traditional art venues and would not otherwise encounter your work. Basically, it is another avenue for your work to be seen, and ideally purchased, by more people. If an artist doesn’t have gallery representation an advisor can be especially helpful in getting your work in front of interested buyers. And if you do have gallery representation, it will still provide you the same benefits.
WPA: What are some ways that artists can broaden their potential for sales, or broaden their audience and collector base?
Naresh: Maintain a website that you keep up to date with new work. Join organizations like WPA that have active member exhibitions and programs as well as an online area for you to have images of your work. I’m always looking for new-to-me artists. Even if I don’t have a project that is right for their work at the moment, I hang onto the info in case a future need arises.
WPA: Is the market challenging? How has the economy impacted your industry?
Naresh: Over the past 5-7 years there have definitely been market fluctuations. DC is somewhat insulated from the extremes of this fluctuation, but it feels to me like things are currently on an upswing. There used to be big budgets with corporate clients, and that totally fell off in 2007 - 2008. But there has been a shift in the last 2 years and we have seen a return of some corporate clients, not to what it was, but it is encouraging nonetheless.
WPA: What do art advisors not do? What are some limitations or misconceptions about the profession?
Naresh: Not all art advisors promote your work to the greater public. The Art Registry is a bit unique in this area because we do host events a couple of times a year, which often include a pop-up exhibition. We have found that our clients enjoy coming out to these events, and it also give us the opportunity to work with artists who are new to us. But an advisor’s main goal is to serve their clients. Part of this includes maintaining good relationships with artists and staying current on the art market, so that they are able to locate the right piece for the right buyer.
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August 21, 2013