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Meet Julian Baumgartner of Baumgartner Fine Art Restoration in South Loop

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julian Baumgartner.

Julian, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’d say I was indentured into servitude by my father who founded the business in the late 1970s! After studying studio art in college in New York I returned to Chicago to begin a proper apprenticeship. In the beginning, all I did was get a lot of coffee and get yelled at a lot. I didn’t touch a painting for the first 4 or 5 years while I was shadowing my father. At the time it was frustrating and of course, I thought I knew more than I did but to simply watch a master ply their craft is an education that one can’t find elsewhere. Slowly over time, I was allowed to begin working on paintings and refine my skills.

Eventually, I was working side by side with my father until his passing in 2011. Taking over the business in that fashion was unexpected and a shock for sure. I was very fortunate to have a client base that believed in me, trusted the education my father had given me and was willing to give me the benefit of the doubt.

Has it been a smooth road?
As I mentioned, assuming the business from one day to the next was a shock that one can’t prepare for. Aside from having to manage all of the conservation I had to instantly learn how to run a business with no coaching or guides. Ultimately though I knew that the work I was doing was paramount and that if I focused on delivering the best quality to my clients I would learn the business aspect in time.

Shortly after taking over the business one client came into the studio and began to express to me that he had doubts about my skill and didn’t feel comfortable with me working on his paintings. To which I responded that for the past 5 or so years my father hadn’t touched one of his paintings, that I had done all of the work and that during that time he kept coming back without complaint. The client was, of course, humbled and to this day is a regular. I routinely give him a hard time about that day, but only in jest.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Baumgartner Fine Art Restoration specializes in the restoration and conservation of all paintings in need of attention. As the oldest conservation studio in the city with over 37 years of reputation and no advertising the business has survived on word of mouth, and word has been good. Simply put the quality and attention to detail the client and artwork receive from BFAR are superior. As sole proprietorship clients can rest assured that only one set of hands will touch their artwork. No interns, no account managers, no billing department. By staying decidedly small there exists the possibility to foster an intimate relationship with the client and art that simply cannot be achieved with larger studios.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Chicago is an amazing city. Period. It has amazing museums, galleries and collector base that nurtures the arts and that energy and standard bleeds out to individuals throughout the city. It’s an incredibly nurturing place for young artists those within the arts which is incredibly rare in a large city. My client base, however, extends throughout the country and the logistics of being in the middle of the USA next to one of the largest airports and at the crossroads of inter-commerce travel makes getting artwork of all sized into my studio very easy.

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