What is an art advisor?

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Turns out no one knows what I do for a living.

Most days, I enjoy the mystery, but on insecurity-inducing days (extended family reunions, social occasions where I am the only person who doesn't work in finance, bumping into someone I always I hated) I fear that people think I have a fake job. But....personal ego aside...I get it. 'Art Advisor' is a vague term, especially for those who aren't in the biz. There are a bunch of great articles on line describing what an art advisor does and why you should/shouldn't have one (here's one) but in plain sbsb speak: 

An art advisor is someone that helps you buy, sell, and care for art.
— sarah burney

Art advisors are helpful because of their knowledge and their access. You want to buy something to hang above your couch and have no idea where to begin - an art advisor helps you articulate what you like and guides you through the entire process: buying the art, getting the art to your home, installing it properly, etc. If you like the work of artist x but can't afford that, they'll direct you towards artist y who does similar work and is in your price range. If you been quoted $z for an artwork your art advisor will know/do research to ensure that $z is a fair price. If you are thinking of buying a delicate paper installation they will talk you through the realities of living with that work as it ages, how to protect it from light, humidity, visiting children etc. And so on and so on. Galleries provide all of these services too but a gallery will only advise you on artists they represent. An art advisor is not promoting a specific artist, they are an independent specialist, working for the collector not the artist or gallery.

The second most frequent question I get after I tell somebody I'm an art advisor (right after 'What does that mean?') is how do art advisors make money? Art advisors either charge an upfront fee, or a fixed monthly/yearly fee, or take a commission (Usually 10-20% of the sale price). A combo of upfront fee+commission is also common. People get funny about the commission thing because they think that the advisor will always direct them towards more expensive art...not true. We want you to keep buying art, so we're gonna act in a way that ensures that you come back. Blowing your entire budget on one piece that you aren't in love with is not gonna make you come back. 

Aren't art advisors for rich people buying art that's for $billions? No. Those might be the ones you read about in the art magazines but there are a lot of us that prefer to work with ppl with more normal budgets. I for one, LOVE working with young people who are buying art for the first time.

Does everyone need an art advisor? No. If you enjoy spending lots of time researching art, are knowledgeable about the industry, trust yourself to do the due diligence, and know exactly what you want to buy then you're probably fine to go it alone. Have fun!

But..if you don't have that much time and have some questions....call me! ๐Ÿ˜ 

Sarah BurneyComment