Art consulting is the business of finding the right painting, sculpture, photograph or other illustrious pieces of art to fit your office. Many gallery owners also serve as consultants to some degree—not simply opening the doors and letting people pick out pieces, but often going to a home or business to lend their experience for an additional fee. While art consulting for corporations is more popular in larger cities, as Southwest Florida grows, so does an interest in this specialty.
Marlissa Gardner started Emillions Art in Massachusetts in 2014 before moving to Naples about four years ago. The Naples gallery began offering fine art asset management out of a small office on U.S. 41, then she opened a gallery on Fifth Avenue South in 2019, with a recent claim to fame being the sale of an original Picasso etching last year. She’s now looking to grow the art consulting side of her business locally.
Earlier this year, Gardner launched a hospitality division focused on providing consulting services to a major industry in Southwest Florida. She relies on a network of hundreds of artists worldwide to nd the right look, whether it’s a breezy coastal scene or a collection that features some of the Old Masters. Often, clients come with a general idea but aren’t quite sure how to take it from there. “They have a vision but sometimes they don’t know it,” Gardner says. “Sometimes you have to sh it out.”
Remember that art sends a message. What do you want that message to be? Gardner’s advice:
“Buy art that will create conversation. You don’t have to buy something that fades into the background.”
Art consulting is more than just making a few suggestions, too. A few years ago, a business owner from California reached out to Nancy Winch at Gardner Colby Art Gallery in Naples. He had come across her gallery and the work of artist John Schuyler, who specializes in mixed-media abstract paintings, and wanted to use Schuyler’s pieces to decorate his new corporate office in Fort Myers. Gardner Colby selected about a dozen paintings and trucked them up to the office. The owner bought almost all of them on the spot. The gallery then helped with installation, framing and lighting; it was all done in about three hours. “He was a dream client,” Winch says.
Much of art consulting locally tends to be with homeowners, but when she started her hospitality division, Gardner saw the potential in an area that’s one of the fastest-growing in the country. Anyplace from hotels to headquarters could use a good art consultant, she said. It’s her job to dress up those tan walls with something that doesn’t just look nice but can set the tone for the workplace. “We can certainly bring a fresh look here in Naples,” she says.