As the art and design world grows, and the art fair circuit becomes saturated with events, navigating the seemingly infinite scene can become overwhelming even to the most seasoned collector. Jennifer Klos, the founder of Collector House, wanted to not only guide collectors through the maze of acquiring artworks and design pieces, but also to educate them and inform their collecting decisions with the proper context, historical knowledge and provenance research.

Jennifer Klos in Copenhagen. Photographed by Flytographer Jennifer Klos in Copenhagen. Photographed by Flytographer

With a background in art history, decorative arts and interior design, and an eight-year tenure as a curator of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Jennifer now uses her expertise and curatorial skills to match collectors with acquisitions that inspire and challenge them. Her video conversations series reveal the stories behind works of art, with behind-the-scenes footage of exhibits and fairs and exclusive interviews with artists and museum curators.

Here, she tells Barnebys what inspired her to start Collector House, advice for first time collectors and what's next for her.

Barnebys: Collector House is your boutique art and design advisory that also includes bespoke trips, talks and video conversations. What inspired you to start the firm and how has it evolved?

Jennifer Klos: My days as an intern at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute taught me the core belief that art can inspire an audience in a fun and accessible way.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute. Image: The Met The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute. Image: The Met

Before founding Collector House in 2015, I was Curator at the Oklahoma City Museum for 8 years, which provided me a tremendous opportunity to develop by curatorial interests and discover a wide range of art, both historical and contemporary. The educational aspects of curating, introducing the public to new ideas, was my favorite part of the job. I realized that social media channels were becoming catalysts for disseminating art and that art collecting was becoming available to a larger public. People began asking me how to learn about buying art so I decided to focus on cultivating patrons of the arts through Collector House.

Some art advisors focus mostly on acquisitions, and I prefer to begin with education and let acquisitions follow. It'll spark their curiosity and confidence to start collecting. My YouTube Channel and Instagram account has really allowed me to better do what I love the most for a larger number of people – foster an appreciation for and build a long-lasting emerging collector base interested in arts and culture.

What advice would you give to a first time collector and where should they begin?

Visit a gallery or a museum that you haven’t been to and ask of the artworks: “Do I love it or does it challenge me?” “Why do I love it or how does it challenge me?” Identify what inspires you every day – music or fashion for example, and explore art that contextualizes your interests. Try to seek out art experiences that get you thinking outside of the box.

Jennifer and a client after one of her tours at Vitra Design. Image: Patrick Luetzelschwab Jennifer and a client after one of her tours at Vitra Design. Image: Patrick Luetzelschwab

Who are some of your favorite artists, designers and works of art?

Decorative art and design play an integral part in contemporary art. My studies at Bard Graduate Center, Christie's, and Inchbald School of Design have given me a strong foundation in decorative arts and design that make me a more open-minded curator. In Oklahoma, I worked with Charlotte Potter on a site-specific installation featuring her glass-cameo works.

An example of Charlotte Potter's glass cameo works. Image: Charlotte Potter An example of Charlotte Potter's glass cameo works. Image: Charlotte Potter

The installation demonstrated the longevity of material and that something that has historical meaning, cameo, it can be drawn back to 19th-century Victorian fashion or re-interpreted in a contemporary lens. We look at art as segmented when in reality we have contemporary artists that work in glass, silver, ceramics, wood, plastics, and metals that are in fact helping push the boundaries of both contemporary art and design.

What trends have you identified in collecting art and design pieces? Are there any particular works that collectors today are gravitating towards?

Collectors are collecting both art and design, not one or the other. Design objects have come to have the same important role in collecting as fine art. Tangentially, art experiences are trending, which inspires a new level of collecting. 

Jennifer Klos leading a collector through furniture design. Image: Collector House Jennifer Klos leading a collector through furniture design. Image: Collector House

The art world is undergoing a digital revolution, with AI works, blockchain purchasing and VR entering the market. Does this change or transform what and how collectors are acquiring?

The digital revolution has increased transparency and sharpened the role of the art advisor. Websites and galleries that collect and/or publish information on pricing and the availability of works make it easier for seasoned collectors to understand the market, which is great. I launched Collector House’s education program to stay ahead of my clients' needs by breaching the online art world with the physical world, allowing me to both groom emerging collectors while spending one-on-one time with more established ones.

You attend many art fairs as well as host guided trips to fairs. What is the best way to navigate a fair and how should new collectors approach the art fair circuit? 

Let yourself wander into booths that strike your interest. I always encourage collectors to let their eye carry them through space. Art fairs are the best way to see the biggest variety of art in one sitting. Ask lots of questions, dealers are so knowledgable and often enjoy sharing anecdotes. Most importantly, don’t be intimidated to inquire about pricing.

What is next for you? 

I’m gearing up for the Dallas Art Fair in April. It is the best place for my DFW clients to engage with the international art world, in their own backyard. I will also be introducing out-of-town collectors to the Dallas scene.

Dallas Art Fair. Image: Mei-Chun Jau via Observer Dallas Art Fair. Image: Mei-Chun Jau via Observer

If you want to visit the Dallas Art Fair with Jennifer, you can join Collector House's guided tours. Here are the available times:
Friday, April 12: 3:00pm 
Saturday, April, 13: 4:30 pm - Young Collectors' Tour
Sunday, April 14: 1:30 pm

Learn more about Collector House here.

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