5 minutes with Art Consultant Paul Baragwanath

Fifteen years ago, Paul Baragwanath established ARTTFORM, a platform which specialises in independent art advising. Here, we ask about the benefit of his services.

Tell us about your role as an art consultant — it can’t be easy dealing with such a subjective topic. In my view, a good art consultant is like a good psychologist. He or she should be able to understand you, how the spaces in your place need to work and what the art needs to contribute. In other words, to anticipate and to develop what you will not only like — but what you will love.

Is it better to have prior knowledge of art before engaging with an art consultant? Not if you have a good, honest one! An inspired art advisor will expand your knowledge and the way you look at art. Acquiring art with the support of someone who dedicates their life to it can be very rewarding.

You have an array of different clients from private individuals to corporate, institutional and not-for-profit organisations. Is there a ‘minimum scale’ of job you would undertake? There’s no ‘minimum’. If people seek art advice, and I am able to help, I will. Or, I’ll introduce them to someone else who can.

Is there one type of client with whom you most enjoy working and why? Ideally, one who senses art’s potential to enhance their daily life. Or, someone who is willing to take a leap of faith. And art does take a certain amount of bravery, regardless of the scale, budget and type. Public spaces are rewarding because the art will have an impact on the lives of many. But there is nothing more rewarding than working for a private client who values the art you bring into their life.

What do you think people are challenged with most when it comes to the task of buying art? In this instance, how do you help? Probably the biggest issue — and perhaps the least known — is that actually finding truly great art is a challenge. Always. Not ‘everyone is an artist’. Not all art is created equal. A good name is no guarantee of good art. And every artist has bad days, good days and days when they really fly. It’s the job of your art advisor to discern the difference. And if he/she does so, your art will go the distance. For you, and for posterity.

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