During the production phase of art procurement for commercial real estate, all the artwork commissioned for a commercial property is fabricated. We’re Texas-based art consultants Art + Artisans and, in this article, we’ll show you how we oversee all moving parts involved in custom art production for our commercial real estate clients. This includes managing payment of artist commissions and vendor fees, providing renderings and design specifications to the artist, and overseeing the quality control and production timeline of the artwork and any custom framing. Not to mention coordinating with the general contractor and other project consultants to schedule delivery and installation of the completed artwork. Commercial real estate developers, interior designers, and architects should read on to learn more about what happens during the production phase of art commissioned for commercial real estate.
In this Article:
When to Bring an Art Consultant on Board
How well artwork integrates with the vision of your commercial real estate development depends entirely on how early you bring an art consultant on board. If they're involved from the very beginning, when the architectural design direction is developing, an art consultant can advise you on whether certain specified materials will work with the artwork you have in mind. This can make a huge difference to your overall budget and drastically increase the artistic options at your disposal. At the very least, bring an art consultant on board by the design development phase of your project to get the most out of your interior, framed artwork and before the schematic development phase to get the most out of your sculptural or external artwork. Any later and your artistic options will be vastly diminished which almost always leads to added expenses and artwork that’s less integrated into the property.
Photo: On a recent commercial real estate job, we were brought in early enough to connect an artist working in LED light beams with the project’s electrician. He taught the artist how to hardwire her artwork and make the final pieces appear to float on the wall, which took the installation to a whole new level.
Managing Artist Commissions
Commissioned art packages for commercial property usually contain multiple pieces by multiple artists. Managing all the details is a massive undertaking. In the first article in this series, we explained that Art + Artisans clients are assigned a project manager. This is the point person who walks you through the entire process of art procurement from discovery to installation. During the art production phase, it’s the project manager’s job to oversee all the moving parts involved in bringing your commissioned art to life exactly as you ordered, on time and within your budget.
In the second article in this series, we explained that during the selection phase of the art procurement process, your project manager should provide you with a detailed cost proposal to review and sign. This is a contract containing every detail of the art package including artwork, framing, and installation. With this document, clients know exactly what they’ll be getting at the end of the art production phase, exactly when the artwork will be delivered and installed on their property, and exactly what they’ll be paying for it. It’s the project manager’s job to ensure the project is completed as stated in that document.
Once a client signs the cost proposal, the project manager orders the artwork and bills the client for the artist commission, framing and shipping costs. These funds are often needed up front so the artists and vendors can purchase supplies to create the artwork and framing.
Artists also sign a contract agreeing to a delivery date and to fabricate the artwork to the specifications in size, color, material, media, and design agreed upon in the cost proposal. They also agree not to change any of the specifications without approval and they assume full responsibility for loss or damage to the artwork until the client receives it. They also warranty the artwork for a period of one year after delivery.
Photo Gallery: Managing artist commissions is a detailed part of an art consultant’s job. For The Independent in Austin, Texas, Art + Artisans curated an art package of over 80 works of art commissioned from 23 different artists in the US and abroad. In 2021, the building won an international Award of Excellence from CTBUH for Interior Design because of the elegant, museum-influenced interiors.1,2
Managing Artwork Fabrication
Once contracts are signed and commissions are paid, the project manager begins overseeing the artwork fabrication process. They confirm all floor plans and measurements with the real estate development team and check in with the artists to ensure they are doing what was agreed to in the cost proposal. If necessary, the art consultant will problem-solve for them.
For example, one artist we worked with was commissioned to create wall sculptures for a client’s commercial property. The artist had never worked in a commercial space, but the Art + Artisans project manager was trained on all the ADA and fire codes and was able to help the artist tweak her designs so that the sculptures did not protrude more than four inches from the wall, as is mandated by ADA code.
These are the moments when commercial developers and designers really appreciate having an art consultant with interior design training on their team. Because if the artwork installed at their development isn’t up to code, their entire site can get shut down.
The team at Art + Artisans have LEED-certified interior design experience and PMP-certification. Which means they can save you time and money by ensuring all your statement art pieces are code compliant. Pictured: Wall sculpture commissioned for class AA office tower The Link in Dallas.
Managing Custom Framing
During the art production process, any custom framing that was agreed upon in the cost proposal is finalized. An experienced project manager knows which framer will be more cost- effective for a given job and is able to get the best price for the best quality. Working closely with the framer, the project manager helps to select the frame, the matte, and the glass, taking into consideration where the artwork will be displayed. For example, if the artwork is to be placed near a window that exposes it to sun all day, it’s important to use UV-filtering glass or acrylic glazing to protect the artwork from damage. Once selected, a proposed frame that fits within the framing budget in the cost proposal is presented to the client for approval.
Coordinating Plans for Delivery and Installation
When it comes to delivering and installing custom artwork, planning is key. The art consultancy project manager will oversee all of this during the production phase.
- Pulling Permits: Sculpture and outdoor artwork require permits from the city. So does installing a mural if access to sidewalks will be blocked. Your project manager will pull these permits for you.
- Code Requirements: The project manager will ensure your art installation is code compliant by checking wall-bracing and measuring the site, as construction doesn’t always follow the floorplan. They’ll also ensure there’s no flammable artwork in a staircase meant for fire evacuation use. And that there’s no textile artwork that could limit the spray distance of a fire sprinkler.
- Coordinating With Other Contractors: Your project manager will coordinate with the other trades to register access to the dock, the freight elevator, and a staging area to safely unpack your artwork. They’ll also coordinate with the general contractor to navigate around other trades like painters or tile installers so everyone can stay out of each other’s way.
Once plans are finalized and production of the artwork is complete, it’s time for installation and activation of your custom artwork. Which is the final part of our four-step process. In the next article, we’ll go over installation and activation in detail. Including onsite coordination and installation, final walk-through and approval, maintenance recommendations, and art engagement recommendations.
Resources to Learn More about Managing Production of Custom Artwork for Commercial Real Estate
- Project management in public art [PARTGO] – PARTGO aims to increase the knowledge about public art by providing resources and information for artists, teachers, students and other people interested in the processes of public art.
- How does Public Art happen? [Australian Centre for Contemporary Art] – ACCA Education supports free arts learning opportunities to the wider community through in-gallery programs, outreach, online resources, and the ACCA virtual classroom.
- Advice on Project Management [Public Art Online] – Brief overview and practical guidance paper for those wishing to appoint a project manager within the field of public art from this unique public art information site that provides guidance and examples of public art practice from around the UK and internationally.
- The Independent Wins Award of Excellence from CTBUH. (2021, February 23). RHODE : PARTNERS. Retrieved February 22, 2023, from https://www.rhodepartners.com/the-independent-wins-award-of-excellence-from-ctbuh
- The Independent (By Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat). (n.d.). skyscrapercenter.com. Retrieved February 22, 2023, from https://www.skyscrapercenter.com/building/id/19364