Trends in home decor come and go. What you loved two years ago will undoubtedly be a faux pas in five, but there are a few key pieces that transcend this cycle of style. Despite your home’s ever-evolving decor, family heirlooms stand the test of time and custom portraits never go out of fashion. Enter Kelly Moffatt, sales associate at Portraits, Inc., and your go-to local expert who can walk you through the process of commissioning a custom portrait of your loved ones that will be admired and cherished for years to come.
For nearly 75 years, Birmingham-based Portraits, Inc. has been building a legacy as the best source for fine art portraiture in the United States. Portraits, Inc. simplifies the process, taking care of all of the details of having a portrait made and guaranteeing satisfaction with the finished product. The company has more than 150 of the world’s best portrait artists on its roster, and there is no one better to guide you through the process of artist selection and portrait planning than Kelly Moffatt. Kelly is uniquely familiar with both sides of the process, as her initial experience with the company started with a single portrait. “We had our daughter’s portrait done through Portraits, Inc., and I fell in love with the whole process,” Kelly says. “I’ve always loved art, and I love working with people, and so when I got the opportunity to work here, it was just a good fit.” In the eight years since, she has worked closely with the portraits boutique’s catalog of accomplished artists to achieve the renderings of her clients’ dreams.
Most of Kelly’s clients come to her with the simple goal of capturing a moment in time through the portrait. “On occasion someone knows exactly what they want, but the majority of the time they simply know that they want to capture their son or daughter or family at a specific time, and they want to explore looking at artists who can best capture that moment.” Each consultation starts with determining the aesthetic the client gravitates toward. Together, they explore different mediums — watercolor, pastel, oil, pencil, charcoal drawings and more — and from there, Kelly hones in on the artists most well suited for that client, taking into consideration their subject, style and budget.
“Sometimes a client comes in who really doesn’t know what they’re looking for, so, together, we try to figure out what they’re drawn to or what they have an emotional response to,” Kelly says. She pulls a selection of artist portfolios, which are available digitally, in addition to the physical copies at the gallery, for the client to consider. “I try to match people really well with the way the artist works and with their personalities because it is definitely an experience, and I want my clients to know up front what the artist is like, what their process is like and if they think that will work well for their family.”
Once the artist has been selected, Kelly then works with the client to gather reference photos, schedule a live sitting with the artist and help along the way as the artist works on the piece. It’s easier than ever to have a portrait made, because as technology has developed, so has the portraiture process. “With photography being so accessible now, most of our artists just take tons and tons of photo references,” Kelly says. “The majority of them share the photos with the client and help them choose the expression and composition, and then we talk through the palette and decide if they want a really dark palette, if they want a setting around the subject or if they just want a really painterly, nondescript background. We basically talk through all the details and the artist often checks in to show the client the direction the piece is taking as it progresses.” The production process depends on the individual artist and how many projects they are working on, and from start to finish, production can take anywhere from three months to 18 months. Then, at the final reveal, the artist often brings along supplies to make any last minute tweaks or changes to the piece, making sure that the end product is one the client is completely happy with.
After working one-on-one with countless clients over the years, Kelly is skilled in and passionate about this process. She loves working with incredible artists to create custom art that will stand the test of time and capture the spirit of her clients’ loved ones. “There’s a lot more depth in a drawing or a painting than in most photographs,” Kelly says. “You have a human with a God-given talent capturing the spirit or the essence of another person, and it is just such an amazing art.”
Portraits, Inc. is located at 2801 Sixth Ave. S., Birmingham, AL 35233, with additional locations in Flat Rock, NC, and New York, NY. Local hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment. Call (205) 602-8992 or visit portraitsinc.com.
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