Nicholas Campbell created Narcissus Arts in 2010 with the mission to give everyone the chance to enjoy good artworks at good prices. Nicholas says he intends to bring his knowledge and experience in more affordable art for private as well as commercial clients.
Can you tell us how you get into the art world?
I started at a young age. I have always had an interest in art, so I started working for a gallery when I was 16 years old. I graduated in 2009 and then I set up my private art consultancy business Narcissus Art in 2010.
You started working at the gallery when you were 16 years old. What did you do at that time?
I started at the bottom. I do lots of photocopying and make lots of coffees. However, through my experience there I managed to garner many insights from the top galleries that we work with.
From that experience, you realised that you want to work in the art world?
After my internship was over, I went on to study Art History at Oxford Brookes University. I wanted a career in the art world, although I had no idea that I would end up as an art consultant. That came much later, which is when I decided to create Narcissus Arts.
Why the name Narcissus Arts?
I studied the painting when I was 16 years old. There was a famous painting of Narcissus by Caravaggio and I love the painting as well as the story behind it. The story itself has relevance until today. In a non-negative way, collecting art is slightly narcissistic because you are interested in an artwork that appeals to something inside of you.
How did you develop such a good eye for artworks?
I think it’s just down to experience. You need to see as many artworks and materials as you possibly can, and from there you can train your eye in a way that allows you to identify which artworks are considered as sensible purchases and which artists are considered interesting.
How do you categorise artworks as sensible purchases?
I think that one has to be mindful of a budget when purchasing an artwork, but it should not be a deciding factor. Sensible purchase means that you should ask yourself whether the artwork you are buying fit aesthetically into your collection or if the artwork comes from artists with an original theme. All sorts of factors come into play when we are looking for a sensible art purchase—the artist’s background, future plans, originality, and, lastly, price sort of comes into the picture.
As an art consultant, do you have any artists partnering with you?
I don’t partner with artists. Usually, galleries will try to partner with artists. As an art consultant, that means I am completely impartial. I find artists for clients from all around the world and try to find artwork that suits my clients’ needs. I am essentially just an agent for my clients.
What do clients expect from an art consultant?
They need us to source the markets and find artworks that really fit into what they are looking for that is within their budget. And they want all of that to be done in a timely manner. So basically an art consultant saves them from having to do it all themselves. At the same time, we give them a guarantee that we are charging them our best price.
So what you are doing is finding artworks that fit into your client needs?
Yes. I will ask them about the kind of artworks they are looking for along with their budget and other criteria that I have to fulfil. I will ask them the kind of artists that they like, because some of them might prefer Jeff Koons and some of them will prefer Jackson Pollock. I will also find out the kind of artworks that they prefer, the space that they have, and ask whether they are buying artwork to start a collection or whether they are just looking for a one-off piece.
What are the challenges you face as an art consultant?
The obvious one will be competition from other art advisors. However, I also feel that increasingly, the amount of access people get to art is a sort of challenge for me. I am not saying that it’s a bad thing because allowing people the access for arts is a positive thing. Nevertheless, people are now looking at arts on online platforms because they feel that they can do their own research, and ultimately they might not buy the right artworks.
So, you are saying that online platforms are a form of challenge for you?
Yes, but on the other hand, you could argue that the huge amount of access means we should be in demand even more. However, I think people have more access to the artworks than they do to me. Personally, I don’t really find new clients through online platforms.
What do you think is the main reason people buy an artwork?
Ultimately, the main reason is because they want to fill a hole in a wall [laughs]. For me, the reason I buy an artwork is not only to fill a gap in my wall, but I am also looking at the investment angle. I think it is important to consider the investment angle because it is an area that people are very interested in.
What do you think are some of the factors that determine an artist’s success?
There are many contributing factors, but I believe that in the end an artist should have originality. Additionally, an artist should be well managed—he or she has to be collected by the right people because the fact of the matter is that there are a number of well-regarded collectors who happen to have the power to make or break an artist.
Why do you think fashion and art go so well together?
I suppose it comes down to an aesthetic level. A fashion designer’s job is to make beautiful clothes and artists are making aesthetically beautiful artworks. So both of them are creating something beautiful.
What kind of art is popular right now?
I think it has to be figurative arts. Almost all galleries are trying to represent figurative artists. There is also a huge movement that is now looking back, where they are finding people or artists that for some reason have been slightly overlooked during their lifetime. So they are trying to celebrate these artists and their artworks.
Which country do you think has the best art scene?
Well, it has to be the UK [laughs]. No, I mean, arguably the UK has a good art scene, but personally, I think America probably has the best art scene because they have great art schools on the coasts. America used to have interesting art scenes mainly on the East Coast, but now both the East and West Coasts are brimming with interesting art scenes. I also see that Los Angeles has a pretty thriving art scene.
What is the significance of art in our society?
I think that art, at its best, provides viewers with a bit of escapism. It is something to get lost in and that’s great for the viewers. It’s just like a good movie or a good song, where we sort of get carried away by the good ones. It has the ability to take your mind off things for a while.
Can you elaborate more?
An artwork can be some sort of a reflection, like there was something inside the artwork that appeals to something inside of you. And that is one of the reasons you buy an artwork, put in on your wall, and stare at it—because it kind of represents you.
So you are saying that art provides us a place to which we can escape?
Yes, whether it invokes sadness or happiness, it kind of allows your mind to be altered.
Why do you think it is important to make art accessible to everyone?
I think there is just so much focus on art being an elitist pastime. I think that art should be accessible for everyone because as I have mentioned previously, it has the ability to transport you somewhere and it’s the same way about how we feel about movies or book. So I don’t see why it should be limited to the few people who can afford it.
How do you make the younger generations to care more about art?
We should get them to see the museums and galleries. I think getting them to interact with the artists is important as well because there is too much hiding behind galleries in the art world. I believe that getting the younger generations to interact and develop relationships with the artists will get them to become more involved in art.
Okay, here is a fun question: If there were a movie made about you, which actor would you pick to pick to play you?
Hugh Grant or Christian Bale [laughs].
Last question. You’ve got 30 seconds to get out from a collapsing house. What are the things that you will take?
A little Hurst painting that I bought and this bangle I’m wearing.