ArtFuse: Living in the Art of Luxury with Cole Harrell

Cole Harrell of nAscent Art up close

Real luxury is not about the bling or the brand – it is about that self-indulgent and individual quality thrill that enhances your life. One of the art industry players that certainly enhanced the lives of his clients is Executive Art Consultant, Cole Harrell, of nAscent Art New York. A native Texan, he lives it big with an unbridled passion and zest to bring the best into everything he does. From finding the right art for clients and navigating the broad field of what Manhattan has to offer, it is a glamorous job but someone’s got to do it. Cole gave us a block from his art filled schedule to share with AF the super rich details of being an art consultant, the allure of this city, and ART of course. So sit tight buckaroo because deep in the heart of it – we’re living in the lap of art luxury!

ARTE FUSE: You were born in a small town in Texas and now working it in NYC – would you say you’re a bonafide city guy? What is so great about Manhattan? 

Cole Harrell: It’s funny how our lives can prepare us for things beyond our wildest dreams. At 24 years old, I’ve been here just shy of 3 years and still so excited to live and work in New York City.  I’m astounded and humbled by the opportunities this city has offered me. I liken this city to a massive hallway with hundreds of doors–with your imagination as the key, you can be transported anywhere.

The formidable team of nAscent Art (L-R) Cole Harrell and Jennifer Wallace Co-Founder & Director of Art (MN)

AF: Speaking of doors from your past, what are the essentials you have learned in your former career as a performance artist that you now apply as an executive art consultant?

CH: Discipline is a big one. Any performer requires a great deal of discipline to become truly great at what they do; I try to incorporate that same conduct into my consultation practice. Taking it there and pushing myself to do what’s asked of me better than I did yesterday.

Also, client meetings are a lot like auditions. You and a prospective client are, in a sense, ‘auditioning’ each other. They need to feel confident I can help them efficiently and professionally; I’m learning more about them to figure out which artwork is best for them and their space.

AF: How about your personal art preference – Name one artist and work that you love but cannot acquire for a corporate client.  

CH: An artist I’ve always been fond of is Tyler Wallach. He’s a graphic artist from Texas, and a good friend of mine. Tyler produces these imaginative, slightly NSFW (not safe for work) “Cloudz” characters. The world Tyler creates with these Cloudz is phenomenal, and lies somewhere between Keith Haring and Lisa Frank.

You may have seen his work in the form of stickers plastered all around Soho and the Lower East Side. Also, awhile back, Tyler had these sunglasses created with Cloudz printed on the lenses. I was one of the first to buy a pair and wore these silly things around for weeks, much to the confusion and intrigue of passersby! You can check out his work at:

AF: What are the main criteria for works of art deemed as corporate grade?

CH: At nAscent, the first thing we look for is quality. The work in question needs to demonstrate superior execution, idea and display. Also, I prefer subject matter that isn’t going to offend anyone, that way the art can be enjoyed by everyone in the space. Artists who works well with commissions are especially interesting to me since most large projects require something site specific.

Getting the Art staged properly at Haworth Showroom

AF: If you rubbed a magic lamp, what are the three wishes you would ask for from the Genie?

CH: In no particular order…

1. Genie, I wish for my apartment to always remain impeccably clean, no matter how much I dirty it.

2. Genie, please grant me the ability to understand and speak all the world’s languages.

3. Genie, may I never know a stranger.

AF: Make your own reality TV show. What would it be about and the title?

CH: I must confess: I’ve never watched reality TV, nor do I have any desire to get involved.

AF: Can you live without art? 

CH: Live, or live? The ability to produce art is one of the characteristics that distinguish us as human. Robbing yourself of art is like fracturing your soul.

AF:  What fascinates you about people in general?

CH: Human “chemistry.” The complexity of the human brain and our chemical makeup has always fascinated me.

AF: The dream client and company you’d want to acquire art for.

CH: Boutique hotels have always excited and fascinated me. They’re like vignettes of New York history and glamour. I’d love to collaborate with someone like Thompson Hotel on future New York projects. The NoMad Hotel around the Flatiron district is probably my favorite hotel in New York; I think the Sydell Group finished it in 2008.

Cole Harrell the face of Corporate Art Consulting in NYC

AF: As an art consultant for corporate clients – how do you keep it fun & final thoughts on those who contemplate this kind of career?

CH: At the office, we have two stuffed animals: Massie the Mastadon and a goose named Charlie. When someone goes above and beyond at the office, one of the animals gets to live on that person’s desk for a week. It’s a big deal. We’re hoping Charlie lays eggs soon…To anyone considering this line of work – as with any career in art, love what you do or don’t do it. Stay hungry for knowledge and growth and remember: you aren’t just selling art, you’re changing people’s lives.

So there you have it folks! Real luxury is to change other people’s lives while you’re having fun.

AF recently featured nAscent Art New York show opening at the ultra luxe Haworth Showroom. Abstracted Space runs till the month of April. For a private visit to view the show, call nAscent Art New York at 347-838-3686.

Haworth. 125 Park Avenue, 2nd Floor. (Park & 42nd St.) New York, NY 10017

Cole Harrell is Executive Art Consultant at nAscent Art New York Inc. and if you want your life changed by art contact him at: / learn more

For my three wishes from the Genie in the bottle: The debonair stance of George Clooney, the entrepreneurial brain of Mark Zuckerberg and the moves like Jagger. And if given an extra wish: probably a goose that laid Golden Eggs!

interview by: Oscar A. Laluyan

photography by: Max Noy

special acknowledgement for Haworth as the interior of the photo shoot

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Cole HarrellArtFuse: Living in the Art of Luxury with Cole Harrell