Design Professional Profile: Elizabeth Dunston

Cold Canyon Triptych (1 of 3 sections) by Sara Post, ceramic collage. Commissioned by Elizabeth Dunston for Phoenix Children’s Hospital, AZ.
Elizabeth Dunston
Elizabeth Dunston

There’s no one way to become an art consultant. Many professionals begin their careers in commercial galleries, frame shops, or art publishing, and almost all have at least some background in studio art or art history. Others, like Elizabeth Dunston of American Art Resources, start out in interior design, a field that demands a similar combination of artistic vision, people skills, and management ability.

We contacted Dunston after seeing a glorious ceramic triptych she commissioned from artist Sara Post for Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and asked for her thoughts about commissioning art for her clients.

“While I was happy to have the opportunity to create ceramic collages on a larger scale, Cold Canyon Triptych offered several challenges. Working from 12 x 12” samples, these 42 x 42” sections required changes to imagery and scale as well as the technical challenge of creating mounted, movable, and shippable ceramic wall art to those dimensions. Elizabeth Dunston created timelines and clear directions for its completion and delivery, which made the project go smoothly and in a timely way.”

Sara Post, artist

What’s the best thing about including commissioned artwork in a project?

I love placing commissioned artwork in projects when the budget allows for us to do so because it makes the environment so much more personal. I always try to commission artists local to the project so that it creates community involvement and generates support for the local arts community as well. It is great for everyone involved when the community is excited about a project!

Do you find that most clients are receptive to including artwork?

I feel that clients are looking at the built environment and really paying attention to all of the elements of the interior, including artwork. There is also more thought going into creating the most conducive environment for the patients to heal.

Are any of your current projects incorporating commissioned art?

I am working on a great children’s project in Greenville, North Carolina that has been a fantastic experience because we have been able to find some really talented local artists and utilize some very creative mediums. The design of the building is an underwater theme, so naturally the artwork followed the design intent set by the designers. I am most excited to see the result of a large mobile we are commissioning in the dining room that was a result of a collaboration of the all members of the design team.