Click Magazine: Were you always artistic growing up?
AW: My grandmother is an artist, and I spent a lot of time with her just being around a lot of art materials. I was making things all the time, just not even knowing it. In college, I would hang art I created in class all over the walls. When we bought our first house, the art for me came first. I just gravitate toward it.
CM: How did you get started as an art consultant?
AW: It started out as friends purely saying ‘Anna, we want to get something for our dining room, what would you suggest?’ and I would give them suggestions, just 'I think you might like this,’ and they usually would. Then I’d help them with it, whether it was visiting a gallery or meeting an artist, put it on their wall and they liked it. Then that one person would ask again, or then the next person would say ‘I heard you did this for so-and-so, would you help me?’ That was going on just for friends, and then I worked on a big project at Le Bonheur. They were building the new Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, and I helped with the children’s art component. We selected around 300 pieces from thousands that were submitted from the region.
As I was doing the kids part, there was a committee choosing art from artists, doing that art consultant component. I watched them and admired the job and thought that that was something I was sort of doing for residential clients already, so once my third child was about a year old, I said it was a good time. She’s not a tiny baby anymore, I can start this as a business and it grew from friends, to friends of friends, to strangers that become friends and clients.
CM:What’s the process you go through to help your clients?
AW: I first try to understand the client’s aesthetic taste—what do they like, what do they gravitate to? Do they like neutral colors; do they love bright, bold intense things? Do they love to travel? Just try to get a sense for what their aesthetics are like from a home standpoint.
Then I find out their budget, what are they willing to spend for art? Then that tells me where I’m going. Am I going to go to local galleries? Am I going to source from individual artists that I know? Am I going outside of town? I have an initial meeting to understand what their needs are, and sometimes I’m dealing with a designer and I might work with the client directly. The designer will show me the design plan so I have an understanding of what they may be looking for.
CM: Do you consider what you do interior design?
AW: I feel like it’s interior design for the walls. I love interior design, I love working with interior designers and getting to feed off their creativity and see how many directions things can go. I just think art is another layer of that. It takes a lot of time for me to research and do that, just as much time as the designer is focusing on couches and lighting and rugs and all those many, many details. Art is just another detail that I’m focusing on solely. I feel like what I’m doing is just a branch of interior design.
CM: What is the most challenging part of your job?
AW: I would say time management because there are only a certain number of hours in the day. I’ve got to meet with clients on their time, artists on their time and then physically get there. I like to meet the artist in the studio or go to the galleries and have that hands-on time to be in front of the work or researching on the computer. I’m a one-woman show. I have had a Rhodes student do a school internship with me and that has really helped. She’s taken on some projects that I’ve given her direction for, whether it’s a PowerPoint presentation or something that takes too much time. Other than that, I do everything. Clients are going to hear from me, there’s no one else. I can’t take on too much business, but I’m constantly inspired.
CM: How do you balance your career and raising a family?
AW: Luckily, I have a lot of energy going into it. I have to sneak in walks and yoga, and I have to have a calendar that has everything written down in it. I don’t do it on my phone—I have to have it on paper, or I will not be there. It’s about that deliberate putting it down on paper and then just having a plan.
I do plan a little bit far out, but I like to tackle it one day at a time. I have to be majorly flexible. I might have a meeting to see a photographer in their studio and something comes up. So if that happens, I’ve got to move things around. I try to get everything done by 3 o’clock when I pick up my kids from school and that starts a whole other day—sporting events, cooking dinner, all that good stuff. And that’s just as fun, too, it’s just that my children need my full attention then.
CM: How does someone know if they need an art consultation?
AW: You’ve got to have an interest in it and an appreciation at some level for art. It’s especially for people who are unsure about what they want, and they would like feedback. But it also could be great for a true collector that wants the special attention focused on their collection. Clients may just need someone to bounce ideas back, or if they’ve seen everything and nothing is jumping out at them, then they might need another layer of looking. Or if they’ve got a full-time job and they can’t spend time to do this, but they’re really interested and they love what art can do for them and their space.
CM: What’s your favorite piece in your own home?
AW: I have a painting by Michael Crespo, who was a teacher of mine. He was a teacher at Louisiana State University and also taught at Anderson Ranch in Colorado where I did a workshop with him, and it was amazing. He did a show in Memphis years ago, and I saw this painting and just knew. It’s a painting of a doe, and my husband is a big hunter, although I don’t look at this painting like it’s a doe we’re going to shoot. It’s more like a character—it’s just a really intense, beautiful painting. It’s not very big, but it’s meaningful based on who painted it and how it's painted. I have a personal connection with that one, but I could probably pull a list of 20 favorites from my house. I need more walls!
CM: For those who aren’t necessarily art-minded but want to start an art collection, what would you recommend they do?
AW: There’s so much online help right now, it’s almost overwhelming. They can go online and kind of get a sense of what visually speaks to them. I want my client—no matter what they end up getting—to love it. People are going to have a reaction when they see something, and it’s going to be a ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ and if it’s an ‘I don’t know,’ then hopefully I can put some variety in front of them to give them a ‘yes’ and go from there.
A mother-of-three turned art consultant uses her creative talents to help others cultivate their home asthetics.
INTERVIEW | July 2014
Anna Wunderlich’s journey to becoming an art consultant wasn’t straightforward. Armed with a degree in studio art and a passion for painting, she taught art at Sheffield High School, Wooddale High School and Hutchison School, her alma mater. She continued to paint using oils and watercolors, even while she married and had three children. Eventually her careful eye for design and fine-tuned aesthetic turned to helping others add personal style to their space. Like a painter mixing mediums to create a profound and enduring work of art, Wunderlich uses her experiences as a student, teacher, mother and artist to bring out the best in someone’s home.