Art + Artisans Make Office Art Better with Custom Consultations
In 2002, Debbie Goldgar, a marketing director for a national corporation, and her daughter Jennifer Seay, an art gallery representative, quit their jobs to fulfill a longtime dream of starting a business together. That business, the art consulting firm Art + Artisans, combined Goldgar’s marketing expertise and Seay’s art-world knowledge to create what would become one of the leading players in the booming art consultancy field.
During a recent interview at her art-filled office near the University of St. Thomas campus, Goldgar told me that the company started small, helping find and install art for a few businesses in Austin. Word spread quickly, and soon Art + Artisans was being hired to commission art for universities, hospitals, and law offices all over the state. The company is now one of the go-to consultants in Texas for major property managers like CBRE.
Each client has a different budget and a different set of expectations for their art, Goldgar explained. “Everyone has their own idea of what they want their space to end up looking like. Businesses have a certain image that they want to present to their customers.”
“They specify whether they want contemporary or traditional, although I don’t get many requests for traditional anymore,” she said. “Most of them are moving towards transitional, which is kind of a hybrid. They still have some of the dark wood, but they don’t want to look like they’re stuck in the 1980s. So they use more glass, more light colors.”
Once Art + Artisans meets with the client and goes over the project plans, they set about commissioning artwork from their database of hundreds of artists, many of whom they’ve worked with before. To stay current with the art world, Goldgar goes to as many gallery openings and artist studios as she can. She and her daughter buy the majority of their art from local artists, like Houston sculptor James Surls. “Houston is the fourth-largest art market in the country—we have so many fabulous artists living here,” Goldgar said.
When commissioning art, Goldgar gives the artist rough guidelines for the size of the painting or sculpture. If the client has expressed admiration for one of the artist’s works, Goldgar will ask the artist to make another in a similar—but never identical—style. For their part, the artists are mostly happy to work with the consultants. “They love people who will sell their work,” Goldgar told me. “And I have formed some really wonderful friendships working with some of these people.”
As Art + Artisans grows, Goldgar and their daughter find themselves taking on more and more ambitious projects. They are currently acquiring art for the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas A&M’s new veterinary school, and the Austin Public Library.
Sometimes clients spend weeks choosing each work of art that will hang on their walls. In other cases, they just want to produce a particular effect. “We had one client who said, ‘I want our office to make us look successful, so that when our customers get a big bill they won’t question it.”
Art + Artisans was happy to oblige.
Art + Artisans. 713-528-8000. artplusartisans.com