I’ve had scores of interior designers filter through my gallery over the years. Out of all these, there are only a handful that I work with. For the most part, the others are always trying to match paintings with the colors of carpets and fabrics. They don’t seem to understand that a painting is a window into another world, and that you don’t try to match a window with anything.
I’ve made dozens of presentations to interior designers, I’ve addressed them in groups, I’ve addressed them individually, and still little has come of it. For whatever reason, many of those I’ve encountered don’t seem to speak the language of art so much as the language of decoration. Nor do they seem to understand how difficult the artist’s life is. As a reflection of this, I’ve often had interior designers borrow paintings to show their clients, then fail to return the works when the sale fell through. Worse yet, a decorator once asked one of my sculptors to design a piece for a foyer, then changed his mind about the whole thing without bothering to tell us, resulting in much wasted time on our part. You should have seen the letter I wrote him.
Due to these experiences, I don’t bother with interior designers much, except for the handful that I alluded to earlier. As for those golden individuals, do they understand art? Very well. Do I give them a discount? Every time. Do I enjoy working with them? Enormously. These designers are competent, hardworking people who love what my artists do, and love introducing them to their clients. How could I find fault with that?
Similarly, no matter where you live, there is bound to be a group of designers who do have a passion for art, a firm understanding of it, and great respect for the hardships that artists endure. These designers are very much worth working with. I urge you to find them, get to know them, and, if possible, make fans of them. You’ll benefit from the association, and so will they.
My experience with architects has been quite different from that of designers. After all, it was architects who hired me as art consultant for the National D-Day Memorial, as well for a convention center in Kansas City, as well as for a project at the Mayo Clinic. Those projects were significant, but when you consider all the hundreds of mailings I’ve sent to architectural firms, and the dozens of PowerPoint presentations I’ve made to them, the return seems rather small.
There’s a reason for this. Architects, for the most part, are artists; their projects are their art. As a consequence, they tend to leave the installation of art up to the client, or the client’s interior designer (God help us). Even so, most major architectural firms do have a designer whose job it is to select art for projects where there is a call for it. These people can be very helpful in assisting you with placing your work. As with designers, make sure you get to know them, and that your galleries do the same. One good architectural contact can, over time, bring you more work than you can easily handle–an enviable dilemma by most standards.