An Art Advisor’s Take on Sourcing Art for Interior Design

July 11, 2024

As interior designers, we have a real appreciation for fine art. It’s so important to us that our client’s finished homes feel layered and curated (the magic word!). Often thought of as the last step in the design process or as a part of styling a home before a photoshoot, art makes a space feel complete. While this rings true, we also love the idea of finding an epic piece of art to inspire design and set the vibe of the room.

The world of fine art is vast and sourcing it can be overwhelming. This week we sat down with Chicago art advisor, Laura Lester from Lester Fine Art to learn more about her process and perspective on sourcing art. Laura works with private individuals and corporations to put together art collections tailored to the client’s personal taste and goals. We enjoyed working with Laura on a recent project to source art and truly value her insight into techniques, styles, and artists.

Art advisor, Laura Lester
READ MORE: 7 Unexpected Places Interior Designers Find Inspiration (That Aren’t Pinterest or Instagram)

Our Interview with Chicago Art Advisor, Laura from Lester Fine Art

Tell us about your background. What has been your career path to becoming a Chicago art advisor?

I have been working in fine art for 16 years. I have a master’s degree in modern and contemporary art history. My first job out of graduate school was as a receptionist at Gagosian Gallery in New York. I spent four years in this role learning the client-facing side of the business by working at the front desk and eventually assisting the owner. Then, I worked at Christie’s auction house as a sale cataloger and specialist in post-war and contemporary art, as well as a director of Kasmin Gallery and Richard Gray Gallery. After relocating from New York to Chicago, I launched my advisory business, Lester Fine Art, in 2021. Working as a private art advisor allows me to focus on what I find to be the most joyful and exciting part of my business- helping my clients fall in love with artists and enrich their lives through collecting.

In your expert opinion, what does art bring to an interior space?

When partnering with designers, I often think of art as the “icing on the cake”- that final touch that brings something special to a room that is a work of art. Artworks should stand on their own but live in harmony with what the designer has already created and the client’s personality.

How do you work with an interior designer to source art for their projects?

Every project calls for a bespoke approach! Sometimes I am brought in to take care of artwork selection within a residential project, and although the designer and I are in touch, the client and I are very much running with it. On other projects, the designer and I collaborate closely on each artwork choice- and every shade of in between!

We loved working with you on our recent East Meets West Townhouse project. What was your process and inspiration?

This lovely young family has exquisite taste and a stunning home with lots of beautiful art walls. Claire, the client and I began our work together by looking at a large number of artists that I pulled for them after my initial walk through. The client was able to very clearly articulate what spoke to her after our first meeting, and in the months to follow we acquired a fantastic and eclectic mix of painting and photography by both young and established artists. The resulting collection is daring, fun, and incredibly sophisticated- with room to grow over the years!

Sneak peek of the finished space

What’s your advice for people looking to invest in and source art?

For clients at the very beginning of their collecting journey, I love to recommend websites like Tappan Collective. Visiting an art fair, like Expo Chicago, is a wonderful way to see a lot of artworks and gallery programs at once. Of course, engaging an art advisor is the best way to truly navigate the market if you are new to it and serious about collecting.

Who are some artists on your radar?

  1. Anna Kunz
  2. Alexis Ralaivao
  3. Joe Henry Baker 
  4. Emma Beatriz 
  5. Judy Ledgerwood

We are excited to reveal more of the East Meets West Townhouse and the incredible art pieces that make it so special in the coming weeks. Follow us on Instagram for sneak peeks and the full reveal!

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Meet Claire

Claire’s creative energy comes from her unique perspective on the world as both a trained interior designer and a passionate yoga teacher. Her affinity for kitchen design, timeless style and eclectic decorating are shared here, along with lots of interior design education and tips. Thanks for being here, please enjoy!

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