Photo credit: David Loftus courtesy of El Fenn
Did you know that a hotel could be your next art opportunity?
Hotels are turning into exhibition spaces as they create a sense of place for their travelers to rest and play. Whether it be a print over a headboard, sculptures perched in a lobby or paintings hung in a restaurant, a hotel’s art collection provides a unique experience.
Why consider a hotel as your next exhibition space? You have a captivated audience in a hotel. Your work can make a first impression to travelers in the lobby, soothe weary visitors in their guest rooms, or captivate hungry diners in the restaurant.
Here are some other reasons to reach out to hotels:
Hotels focus on local art.
Hotels want to reflect the culture of their area. So they feature local artists as cultural ambassadors.
The Nines “celebrates the talent that has made Portland the creative capital of the Northwest". Their 400-piece collection features commissioned works created by local artists. The establishment furthers its commitment to local arts by partnering with the Pacific Northwest College of Art. Guest rooms feature original works from PNCA and the hotel funds an annual scholarship.
If you think about it, hotels are marketing platforms—places to showcase what the area has to offer. Arts and culture are a huge part of local economies and communities, so it makes sense that hotels would promote their unique artistic and cultural heritage.
Be a part of an art tour.
Depending on the exhibit, Long-Sharp Gallery’s team educates the Art Ambassadors on the works or brings in the artist to speak about his or her pieces. In this way, “Art Ambassador Training” provides insight into the exhibit and shares with the Art Ambassadors firsthand information about the works. Hotel team members then give tours to guests after receiving extensive training on the hotel’s rotating exhibits.
Photo credit: Kasia Gatkowska courtesy of El Fenn
Hotels have their own personality. Could one fit your artwork?
Hotels, like you as an artist, use their brand to define and differentiate themselves. Some hotels are slick and modern. Others are quaint and historic.
Find a hotel that fits your brand.
Meet potential buyers.
To entertain their guests, hotels offer artistic programming that you could become involved in, like hands-on painting classes or artist discussions. The Grand Wailea in Maui hosts beginning watercolor painting classes and encourages art conversations between guests and their local artists-in-residence.
If your local hotel does not have events in place, it’s a great opportunity for you to offer your skills!
Your art as a memorable gift.
Your art can be part of a cherished, lifetime memory. When couples get married at La Posada de Santa Fe, also known as the “The Art Hotel of Santa Fe,” they have an opportunity to purchase an artwork to celebrate and commemorate their new beginnings, hopefully as avid art collectors.
Get involved before the hotel opens its doors.
The Gladstone Hotel in Toronto commissioned artists to design its hotel rooms before they launched in 2005. Each of the 37 rooms was designed by a different artist/designer/team.
Photo courtesy of Hamilton Princess
Connect with hotel owners that are collectors.
If a hotel has an impressive art collection, chances are the owner(s) are collectors themselves. The owners’ passion for art trickles down into the very walls of their establishments.
Vanessa Branson shares the works from her own collection with guests of El Fenn in Morocco. When creating El Fenn, art was integral to the experience. Vanessa shares, “as a sign of commitment to the future of the hotel I selected six of the best works from my private collection.” She continues, “I hate the idea of putting works in storage—owning a hotel is a great excuse to buy more work!”
And the hotel owners can play a large role in the acquiring of the artworks. For instance, the 20th and 21st-century contemporary art collection found in the Hamilton Princess was selected by its owner.
Tap into a new network and build strong relationships.
Jenny Kimball, Chairman of the Board at the historic La Fonda on the Plaza, continues the hotel’s commitment to Pueblo artists. She acquires artwork for the Santa Fe luxury hotel through various methods—the famed Indian Market, auctions, galas, and her own personal relationships with artists.
Her close connections to Native American artists like Virgil Ortiz, Mateo Romero, and Tony Abeyta keeps the collection contemporary. These strong ties also connect her to young emerging artists like Jordan Ann Craig. “Since I have a lot of good relationships with artists, if they see someone who is up and coming, they’ll introduce me to that artist.”
Your art could be one of the best parts of a hotel employee’s job. Managing a hotel is a stressful business. Jenny shares that “one of the things that keeps me in this job is the interaction with the artists. It makes the other parts of my job worthwhile.”
Don't discount smaller hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts.
Would you walk into the Met and expect to be shown next month? Probably not. In the beginning, it's more feasible and manageable to show your artwork in a local gallery than in an international establishment. The same can go for working with hotels. Instead of walking into a Hilton, perhaps scout out local, smaller hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts that commit themselves to art and curating experiences for their guests.
Take the Embassy Circle Guest House in Washington, DC as an example. The inn is near Georgetown University and frequently hosts parents of college students. Within this intimate setting, Innkeeper Laura Saba builds strong relationships with the parents and with a few, quickly learned that they were artists. Laura started buying artwork from her guests. Opportunity can be in the least of expected places—like your kid's college orientation!
Artwork by Serena Martin
Be a part of a special project.
The hotel’s marketing manager, Janet Scanlon, was on Instagram one day and came across Serena’ work. She was instantly drawn to Serena’s aesthetic and hired her for the project.
Serena shared that she is a history buff so when Janet presented the concept, she was "thrilled to have the opportunity to tell the history of an iconic hotel through illustrations.”
And when asked if this was Serena’s first commission through Instagram she relayed that “Instagram has been the biggest driver for commissions since starting my business in 2015, and still is to this day.” You can learn more about how Instagram can boost your art business here.
Sell your work in temporary rotating art exhibits.
To keep their spaces fresh and return visitors delighted, hotels install temporary exhibits.
La Posada de Santa Fe’s property used to be an artist’s colony so they commit themselves to Southwestern art. All of the art in the collection is for sale at the artist’s studio price.
Hotels commission public art projects.
Hotels looking to make an impact commission large-scale installations for places. Murals on exteriors and installations in lobbies are wonderful opportunities to surprise and delight visitors.
Some hotels are included in percent-for-art programs and depending on the size of the renovation or build, can produce significant budgets for art.
A great example of a large budget is the Westin Denver International Airport. The city of Denver requires all public buildings to contribute one-percent of their construction dollars on large art projects. As a result, the hotel features $5-million worth of art and installations.
There may be an opportunity for you! You can search for public art RFQs on Artwork Archive’s Call-for-Entry page.