No art history degree? No problem. 

Businesses that collect art and maintain a corporate art collection can improve their corporate culture, add a new dimension to their corporate social responsibility outreach, and significantly enhance their brand image.

There are significant benefits to having a corporate art collection. However, sometimes the task of building and maintaining an art collection may not fall into the hands of an arts specialist. If that's the case, there are ways to smartly create a collection without an art history degree.

Here are a few tips to get you started building a corporate art collection:

Have an Art Collection Strategy

A corporate collection should operate in strict parameters since the artwork on display is reflective of the company, brand, and culture. Much like growing a company with a business strategy, it is helpful to run through the same exercise with your art collection. Developing a clear collection strategy will help determine the goals and boundaries of the collection.

To get started, walk through the following thought exercises. 

  • Assess your space and identify the areas to focus on for your art collection. Does your lobby need an oversized piece or does the conference room need some interesting texture that doesn’t distract too much?
  • Think of the walls as well. Your office might have a two-story atrium that can accommodate a hanging sculpture or light fixture. Does the outdoor space scream for a sculpture? What about the corner, could it use a display pedestal?
  • Understand the brand aesthetic and the goals behind a collection. Ask yourself what you want the spaces to feel like. Are you looking for works that reinforce your industry? Do you need to avoid nudity and religious iconography or is your company culture on the edge?
  • Consider the scope of your clients. Do you service a specific area that would appreciate local artists? Do you bring in international guests who would be comfortable being reminded of your worldwide reach?

Keep track of this strategy and where you end up placing the artwork in an online art database like Artwork Archive.

Look to outside art professionals.

A common way to build a corporate art collection is to bring in the professionals.

“Meeting with an art consultant is the easiest and most effective way for a corporation to begin a collection. There’s a lot to consider both strategically and aesthetically. An experienced art consultant can walk a client through the process to ensure the collection meets desired financial and cultural outcomes.”

—Margaret LeMay, Owner, Integrated Art Group

Not only will an experienced corporate art consultant help you build the collection, but they will also ensure the proper installation, care, and maintenance of the pieces to protect your investment. All of which can be tracked in cloud-based art collection management system to make your life much easier. 

Start building an art acquisition committee. 

It wasn’t uncommon in days past for a corporate art collection to be the pet project of the CEO, but as company-wide culture increases in value, this idea feels outdated.

A great way to add variety to your collections stakeholders and aesthetic is to form an art acquisition committee. Bring individuals from throughout your organization, from board members to human resources, sales, and product, to keep your organization invested and active in the collection.

As we all know, deciding anything by committee can be rough at first, so it’s best to provide them with some basic do’s and don’ts as well as some general guidelines. Create a document that describes the spaces in your office that has been highlighted for art and make sure you have any additional budget available for installations needs. For instance, will you need to install lighting for a painting or hire someone to install a piece on a concrete wall?

Provide them with annual goals and budgets, such as increasing the collection by 10% or curate a collection of black and white photography for the third-floor conference room within a $12,000 budget, to keep them on track. Then, see what happens!

When in doubt, rent your art!

Are you running a TypeS (Startup) company that’s changing every day? Can’t decide on the right piece? Not interested in making a hefty investment in a single painting? Is your taste more expensive than your budget?

Consider renting corporate art!

Over the past few years, corporate art consultants have picked up on market trends and started offering art rentals. Somewhere between an exhibition and an investment, companies like Artemus and Turning Art provide a wide variety of services to provide you with short or long term rentals.

Use their curatorial services to help you bring in local or emerging artists, large-scale pieces to impress your clients as they step into your lobby, or a piece by a worldwide and recognized artist to leave a lasting impression. Most corporate art rental services will also offer a rent to buy or a purchase credit if a specific piece becomes beloved and part of your office identity.

Artwork Archive offers the tools you need to organize your growing corporate art collection.