Small Consultancies and the Working Artist
Joel Kuennen interviews Jennifer and James Wallace of nAscent Art New York
Jennifer and James Wallace, co-founders of nAscent Art New York, have made it their mission to champion emerging artists. Not only that, but they have made it their business. In 2007, nAscent Art began as a small auction house to represent emerging artists. Finding it difficult to drum-up buyers let alone a buyer for emerging artists’ works, they decided to employ a different tact in bringing unknown artists to the marketplace and shifted their model to that of an art consultancy. Since 2010, this has been their business. James put it like this: “The challenge wasn’t getting collectors to buy work, it was that artists needed to make a living.” This statement represents an altogether different approach to the marketing and selling of work. Instead of constructing a cult of personality around a few artists that could then sell their works for greater and greater sums, nAscent became a group that focused on transforming young artists’ practices into viable careers.
They didn’t go after large corporate collectors however, knowing that, for the most part, collectors like these were looking for investments and tax deductions, not sponsoring new artists. “We felt the best way to support emerging artists was by positioning these artists in a fine art space with that level of dignity and respect for a client that isn’t necessarily JP Morgan but wants to be like JP Morgan.” nAscent’s clientele has become small to mid-sized accounting and investment firms, hedge funds and developers with average price points ranging from hundreds of dollars to $10,000, and most work selling for around $1000-$5000. These organizations are ones that find the current gallery system cost-prohibitive but at the same time, want to invest in and support artists while improving their work environment. “Really, what many of these firms are looking for is guidance,” they affirmed...