INTERIORS+DESIGN for architects
ALEX HEATH, MD INTERNATIONAL ART CONSULTANTS

Alex has always been interested in art since school French exchanges to Paris when he'd sneak off to visit Impressionist galleries. He went on to study art history at St Andrews; it was here that he decided that art was going to be a big part of his life.

Alex is married with two children aged ten and twelve and splits his time between London and Somerset. His wife is an established landscape painter.

"When I graduated I set up an art business with a friend of mine. We'd fallen in love with Czechoslovakia, and our mission was to go around in our clapped-out car tracking down fantastic new artists in Prague and Bratislava. It was great for a couple of years, and we placed a few artists successfully in decent UK galleries, but we ran out of cash during the recession of '91 and our Czech sponsors pulled out on us one after another. That was when I realised that I didn't just need to love art to work in this world - I also needed to find a way of making money.

So I got my MBA from Harvard, which was a useful start. Then I spent the next 12 years doing various things in new media - building cable TV companies, dotcom businesses and a range of other enterprises. These included companies like Virgin Net and Telewest.

After that time I felt that I was in a good position to think about coming back into the art world, so I started a search for the right kind of business. I wanted something that I could get stuck into before I left it too late in my career, and that led me to the founders of International Art Consultants.

The business was founded in 1980, and initially focused on providing low-cost solutions for relatively small companies. It began by commissioning limited edition prints and selling them on and it was very much based around finding art for offices. From there it continued to expand, growing into different types of art with more commissioned and original work. As the founders got more confident, the business got bigger. By the time I came on the scene in 2005, they were supplying art for upmarket blue-chip corporations as well as working for public bodies such as educational

establishments. They had broadened the range of art they could provide and were addressing a larger market.

When I first met the founders, they were beginning to think about retiring and they were looking for somebody to take the business on. I really liked the idea behind International Art Consultants and what they did. I thought it was a good vehicle for me, so I acquired it from them when they retired in 2006. We’d worked closely together for a year or so before that, so it was a smooth transition.

Over the past five or six years, our upward trajectory has continued. I've moved the business even more towards what I call 'upstream' - so we've rebranded as International Art Consultants and moved a lot more into advisory work. A large part of what we do now is helping companies think about what it is they want to get out of having art in the workplace.

We have also expanded our geographical reach across Europe and the Middle East, opening offices in Paris and Dubai, which has brought us new clients and access to a wider range of artists and projects, be it designing an art programme for a new airport, commissioned pieces for a new office (left) or reception space (above) to a bespoke collection of Arabic art (below) for a privately owned bank.

Indeed, I have continued to expand our Private Client Practice beyond its original scope of looking after the Directors of corporate clients to a wider variety of High Net Worth individuals across Europe and the Middle East. We are now helping many individuals build, manage and realise collections of many different shapes and sizes.

I also continue to help other early stage companies in the sector, most recently becoming a NED of ArtFinder, the UK's fastest growing online marketplace for affordable original art"