At this year's Affordable Art Fair Milan (6 – 9 February, Superstudio Più) we're delighted to be working with Caterina Verardi, Art Consultant and founder of Verardi Art Advisor. Caterina will be offering exclusive personal shopping sessions - all in the name of finding the perfect piece for your home! With a wealth of experience under her belt, achieved working with auction houses and other institutions, you couldn't be in safer hands to navigate the fair. In advance of the fair, we caught up with Caterina to learn more about her purchasing tips, gallery walls and the inspiration behind her own art collection.
Meet Art Advisor Caterina Verardi
Purchasing and collecting contemporary art has become an art in itself! Can you give us your 3 top pieces of advice to bear in mind when you want to buy an artwork?
Collecting is pure creativity, a way of expressing yourself and your taste. However, although fascinating, the world of art collection is extremely large and lacking in transparency. To make the right purchase you have to know the rules of the game and spend a lot of time researching and examining the works.
My first tip would be to only buy from professional artists; being an artist is a very serious job.
My second tip is to only purchase from sellers with impeccable reputations, whether at auctions or from galleries.
Thirdly, always request a certificate of authenticity, which should be issued by the artist or foundation that manages their archive.
But the real secret to creating a superb collection is to only buy works that you love. Sitting in front of an artwork that stirs your emotions every day is the best investment you can make.
Are you also a collector? Can you tell us about one of the first pieces you bought?
It is a passion I share with my husband, Marco. We purchased one of our first pieces here at the show. A great work by Thomas Bee, a pop artist who transmits important social messages and winner of the "Premio Arte" in 2011.
And one of the first pieces you sold?
A Gouache by Mirò. It was beautiful. As soon as I saw it, I knew we had to form a sales strategy that would exploit its potential. I sold it in London, a market in which there was a great demand for that type of work at the time. I decided to collaborate with an international auction house, and thanks to some careful communication work, the painting sold for twice its maximum estimated worth.
What are the benefits of working with an Art Advisor?
Getting the help of an Art Advisor means exploring your passion for art with someone that knows your taste and sees dozens of works every day. A professional that is able to guarantee the quality of every artwork and evaluate its price. A filter that is able to select artists who deserve greater attention while leaving the client the enjoyable task of calmly choosing the next work they wish to add to their collection.
Can you tell us how your job changes according to the collector sitting in front of you? How does your approach to someone with a well-defined collection differ compared with your approach to someone who doesn’t have a clear idea?
Every collection reflects its collector and every collector is different. The first real challenge is to understand the client’s taste - from what they tell you, in the case of a new collector, or from the works they possess, for those who have already started their collection. Once you have identified their style, the job is the same. Piece by piece the collection will then develop with the purchase and sale of works because over time the collector’s taste becomes more refined and their expertise and passion grow.
Although it is a process that requires a lot of attention and dedication, it is also very rewarding. Because in a good collection you can celebrate the beauty of every single piece and, as we have seen many times in the past, increase its value.
What tools do you use to select the works you recommend to your clients?
The process of selecting the works begins with a detailed understanding of the client, so the first tool is certainly dialogue. Once you have identified the recurrent themes of the collection you can make an initial selection of the artists that could form part of it. In this phase the most important tool is experience. The greater the number of artists the Art Advisor knows, the greater the chance of finding the right works. Finally, having identified the artists, you then have to select the works based on precise criteria to ensure that the artwork valuation is as objective as possible. In this phase an analysis system is used which studies the works available on the market in order to compare some of their characteristics, such as state of conservation, origin, authenticity, depiction of the subject and price. Here, our search engines are our time, our expertise and our passion.
What advice would you give a prospective collector wishing to purchase their first artwork?
First you need to train your eyes to understand which kinds of works attract and intrigue you. To begin, go with your gut. Then, when you think you are sure about a work, you have to try and understand if it is a good purchase, i.e. if the artist is a professional, if the work is genuine and if the price is right.
What is your biggest inspiration? Do you have any favourite artists?
My first source of inspiration are my clients, their ambitions, their style and their desires. My favourite artists are the good ones!
Tell us about your average day: what does an Art Advisor do on a daily basis?
My job is to marry the desires of collectors with the opportunities available on the art market. On one hand I am busy with artworks, exhibitions and artists, and on the other I am focused on helping my clients to sell and purchase works with valuations, authentications and assessments. I often meet with other professionals with whom I collaborate in order to provide an across-the-board service which also includes, where necessary, legal, insurance, tax and asset management advice.
What advice would you give somebody interested in a career as an Art Advisor?
To study. The art market is not very transparent, so you have to work twice as hard to get the information you need. And to practice and listen to the wishes of the customer. Our job is to make their experience in the wonderful art market as pleasant and satisfying as possible.
How do you envisage the future of the art market? What are your plans for the future?
In recent years there has been a growing demand for greater transparency. Apps are being developed to digitalise certificates of authenticity, blockchain systems are being trialled to trace purchases and values, and it is becoming common practice for galleries to use e-commerce systems. I hope all of this encourages new collectors and helps to make art as popular as many other luxury goods today.
From a personal point of view I believe that all tools are useful and I will continue to study all of the latest innovations in the world I love and inhabit every day. My plans for the future? Becoming a better Art Advisor and continuing to be surrounded by wonderful works of art, the only way I know of satisfying my passion for beauty.
Thanks so much for your insightful advice on art collecting Caterina! If you’re inspired by Caterina’s words of wisdom, we look forward to welcoming you to the upcoming edition of Affordable Art Fair Milan (7 – 9 February, Superstudio Più). Plus, to purchase a special ticket and take advantage of the Art Advisory service at the fair – follow the link below and select “Personal Art Shopping”.