FG Fine Art
January 2018|Sofia Simeonidou
Doing a job that doesn't need you to be active on Social Media. Doing a job where no day is the same. We're talking to one of the best Fine Art advisors, a profession we don't often read or hear about. With 20 years of experience and a passion for art, Flavio Gianassi tells me it was all a coincidence. Was it?
Flavio, you’re a Fine Art Consultant. What is it that you do exactly?
Well, as a Fine Art Consultant my job is to help people, both private clients, and public institutions, to buy an art piece. I work as an independent Art Consultant and I’m a director at the Moretti Fine Art Gallery.
Where are you based?
I’m based in London but you can find me anywhere around the world.
Who are your clients?
I have both private clients and public institutions. I like to make a distinction between clients and collectors because they have different goals. The collectors have an almost academic knowledge of what they collect and they're specifically looking for the right piece for their collection. A client is someone who likes art and wants to buy an art piece. With time and very often clients become collectors.
How did it all start? Where you always interested in Fine Art?
To be honest, it was a coincidence. Of course, I’m Italian, I grew up surrounded by art. During high school, I studied Art History and the Classics, but I have a Law degree. A friend of mine from school (Fabrizio Moretti) opened his first gallery in Florence in 1999 (Galleria Moretti). So while I was studying I started helping him out with the exhibitions and the art fairs. That’s when I realised that dealing with art, and people and travelling was something I loved doing.
Would you do something else instead? Would you work in a 9 to 5 job?
I’ve done it before but I chose to do what I do because I don't like having a fixed working schedule. I love the freedom of being self-employed. I was always very conscious about it.
Besides the very specific Fine Art knowledge, what skills do you need to have to be a Fine Art Consultant?
Love for art, love for people. You need to personally care about art, you need to be curious. You invest a great amount of energy doing this job. And as you said, you need to be very knowledgeable and you need experience. For 20 years now, I work and study only with the best. There are many art advisors out there that improvise but it’s not a job you can improvise. Many young people study art and decide that the best and fastest way to get into the art market is by becoming an art advisor. You need to build experience organically, it takes time. That’s what you bring to the table, your experience. Another important thing is to never forget who you are and where you’re coming from. It’s a glamorous career, and it’s easy to lose yourself.
How do you network?
Networking is a great part of my job. As with every job, you need to know the right people and the right people need to know about you. You have to be physically present at different events, exhibitions, art fairs, get to know the museums. I’m travelling a lot to visit museum collections, especially in the U.S.A. It’s important to get to know collection curators and see the collections in person. Nowadays you can find everything online but the perception you get is different when you see the collection live.Word of mouth is how it mostly works in our case. I don't have a website, I keep everything private. Privacy and confidentiality are an important part of this job.
That’s a difference, not having a website or a Facebook business page.
I don’t see anything wrong with promoting art on Social Media but let’s just say that it’s not my style at the moment. It’s not where my clients are. I establish a personal relationship with the client, I have to get to know them, sometimes visit their house to see what they need and what they need it for. So Social Media wouldn’t add anything important to my process and wouldn’t benefit my clients either.
How many Art Fairs do you attend in a year?
I visit many Art Fairs, it's a core part of my job. I also travel to Art Fairs with clients to show them an art piece or I'm there as an exhibitor with Moretti Fine Art, like at the TEFAF in New York or Frieze Masters in London. I visit contemporary art fairs and auctions as well, it’s important.
Why is it important to visit contemporary art fairs?
A lot of collectors do a crossing. The idea of a collector that collects only Old Master paintings, or only contemporary art, is old-fashioned. Now people like to engage and collect different forms of art.
Do you have a regular working day?
The only regular thing about my working day is that I check my emails first thing in the morning. Then it all depends on what I’m working on that day if there’s an exhibition or if I have a client in town. If I’m not traveling, I do research. So it very much depends on the day.
Do you drink coffee?
I quit coffee 3 years ago.
How do you keep your energy levels up?
The passion for what I do gives me energy. I know it sounds like a cliché but I take my energy from talking about art and meeting people. Of course, sometimes I get too tired and then I need a break. I try to follow a healthy diet, but it's not always easy because I travel a lot. When I have a busy stressful period ahead I take vitamin supplements and royal jelly. I don't exercise. It's difficult to maintain a training routine when you don't have a daily life routine. I try to walk a lot. I try to do 15km a day.
Anything you like the most about this job?
The art part, travelling, and meeting people.
What would you say to someone thinking of buying an art piece as an investment?
You can buy whatever you like but you need to know what you’re buying. Clients need to be aware of what they’re buying and from whom they're buying the advice from. People think about art as an investment, which is true because you can invest in art like you can invest in property or stocks, but the first thing I’d advise someone is to buy something they like. I don't say it should be something you should keep for the rest of your life because the same way you change house you can change your art collection but it has to be something you enjoy having for a few years. You have to buy with your heart. Now, if you want this to be only an investment or if you don't want to take any risks, that’s different. It all depends on your priorities.
Where can we find you?
You can find me at the British Airways Lounge, Heathrow Terminal 5. I always joke with that. I’m based in London. I’m often at Moretti Fine Art but if you can’t find me I’ll find you.
I’m travelling to NY at the end of the month for the Old Masters Sales in Sotheby's and it’s a good opportunity to visit exhibitions, and meet clients. One of my goals, in terms of future plans, is to get more young people interested in Old Masters and Fine Art. I want to bring a small group of young potential collectors together, take them to exhibitions, or invite them to the gallery where they can see the Old Masters. There are many potential young clients who'd like to look into the Old Masters but they don't know how or whether it’s something for them.
Because it’s branded this way. We think of it as something you do when you’re older, or when you’re particularly wealthy.
Yes, that’s true and that's what I want to change. You don't need a palazzo to have an Old Master. Sometimes Modern/Contemporary Art is more expensive than Fine Art. That’s what I want to do more, change the perception. You can become a collector even if you don't have a big budget. Of course, you can’t buy a Caravaggio but you can buy a Florentine school 17th or 15th-century painting for the same amount of money you’d pay for a new contemporary artist.