Making art work for hotels: ARTIQ CEO Patrick McCrae talks to Swiss School of Tourism & Hospitality

Hoteliers and brands are continually looking for ways to differentiate themselves from the pack. Patrick sat down with Macy Marvel of Macy Marvel Consulting for the Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality for a Q&A to share his insights into the benefits of art for hospitality. Read the interview in full below:

ARTIQ, a London-based art consultancy, provides advisory services and helps clients to source art for their premises. ARTIQ believes that a great piece of art displayed in a hotel can leave a lasting impression and resonate with clients on a deeper level than any other aspect of the design or service.

The company was founded in 2009 with a dual mission: on the one hand to bring great art into public spaces, but also to make sure that the artists are fairly compensated for their work.

Currently, the group works with some 200 artists and boasts upscale and luxury hotels as clients, including: Marriott Regent’s Park; various other Marriott projects currently ongoing; two Hilton projects in Europe; Great Northern Hotel (London); Gleneagles (Scotland’s foremost golf hotel); Pendley Manor (Hertfordshire); Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh; and Crowne Plaza, King’s Cross.

I was able to catch up with Patrick McCrae, ARTIQ’s founder and CEO, who explained to me why he founded ARTIQ and how the firm works with hotels.

1. Patrick what gave you the idea to launch ARTIQ?
Fair pay essentially; we launched with the idea of providing a sustainable and regular income for artists. Not to mention a lifelong desire to run a business and be disruptive in the industry!

2. How do you typically source your artworks? I see that you work directly with some artists that you are keen to promote.
We work directly with 200 artists, as well as numerous galleries and collectors, whose work forms part of our leasing collection. These pieces can then be rented for set periods of time.

Aside from that, we have an Arts Team of four people, whose job it is to source art for projects and to ensure we’re working with the very best artists for each location, targeting local and international artists who are culturally relevant.

3. Please describe the business you do with hotels. Is it mainly rentals, outright purchases, consultancy, etc.?
All of the above; we help create briefs and strategies for each individual hotel, brand and location and then work on arts programmes on an individual basis to express that strategy.

4. What is distinctive about working with hotels (as opposed to other types of businesses, e.g. offices, etc.)?
Hotels are particularly interesting because they encompass every type of space: live, work, meet, sleep. The art needs to be incredibly diverse and aspirational for many of our clients. It’s another hook to attract people to a particular hotel and, done well, provides a notable competitive advantage.

5. Is there a definable trend in terms of the type of art that hotels are looking for? How does this differ according to the type of hotel, customer base, etc.?
Storytelling and elevating guest experience are universal and how that’s then interpreted for the different brands varies massively, depending on their customer base, culture and history, whether that’s about humour, micro-trends like ‘the new masculine’ or even ‘colour’ or eclectic-collection-style and so on.

6. What is the typical rental period for works of art in hotels, i.e. how often do they change what they display?
It’s entirely up to them – for example, Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh updates every quarter to change with its programming and events, while the Great Northern Hotel changes every 9 months to align with British Library exhibitions; others 6-monthly and others annually.

7. When working with hotels, do you work closely with interior designers, architects?
It depends. We usually work with designers, architects and project managers, but very often with direct client involvement also.

8. You have an interesting tool, Maestro, to gauge the attractiveness of works of art in a given location. Has this been used in a hotel context? If so, with what result? 
Maestro is actually a very useful tool for selecting art collections democratically. We’ve used it extensively, but not yet for a hotel. We think it has huge potential as a marketing tool for hotels to engage with previous guests, asking them what they want from a space. It’s all about getting people to visit a hotel again.

9. Is there ever interference or interaction with hotel brand standards when working with hotels?
Some hotels have standards that need to be met or interpreted. At the mid to luxury levels they’re usually pretty open to ideas, as long as we fit the key themes. However, it’s always nice to challenge new brands with new ideas.

10. Does your work with hotels ever touch on the question of what music is or should be played in the properties?
With closer client relationships we’re asked about everything! I’m a big fan of music so I have made recommendations in the past; we’ve worked with Music Concierge who do this very well.