CRYSTAL LAKE – A never-ending passion for the arts has allowed Lynn Carlson to run a successful fine art appraisal and consulting company for more than 30 years, the Icon Centre in Crystal Lake.
The Gary, Ind., native grew up all things art. Whether it was studying the piano as a young girl under the direction of a nun at a convent or soaking in artistic design knowledge from her father who ran his own business, art was always a topic of conversation.
That love continued beyond Carlson’s adolescent years and led her to Iowa Wesleyan College, where she completed her undergraduate studies in studio art before earning a master’s degree in the same field from Northern Illinois University.
“I grew up thinking I could open my own business someday,” said Carlson. “As a young woman I was a bit of an appraiser, and I started to make a plan early on where I would use the skills I had and grow new ones.”
Carlson later married a man from Woodstock and after teaching art and working on the retail side of art display and management, the two relocated to Crystal Lake, where she opened the Icon Centre in 1982.
Early on the business focused offering art lessons and selling supplies. It also included a wall of artwork that “I didn’t push too much,” Carlson said.
She later went on to teach at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake while still running the business out of a small commercial space nearby.
After 11 years of building a reputation as the woman see about fine art, Carlson moved the company to her Crystal Lake home in 1993 to focus on appraisals. During that time she also earned her master’s degree in valuation science.
“I had a lot of visibility,” she said. “That meant people would bring me their artwork and ask my opinion. It just made sense that I should be appraising art.”
Carlson wrote her first professional appraisal in 1996, and the rest was history.
“There is a huge difference between being a neighbor who people bring their painting to for an opinion and a professional appraiser,” she said. “Almost everything is worth something, and sometimes people absolutely need to know.”
The in-home business now focuses on fine art pieces for insurance purposes, or those that are going to be donated, resold or liquidated, to name a few.
She has appraised artwork worth hundreds of thousands and others worth “not quite as much,” Carlson said.
As the economy has slowed, the business has had to evolve.
“There has definitely been less activity with the lower-end art,” Carlson said. “But the high-end pieces continue to change hands and retain their value.”
As for offering some advice for future appraisers, Carlson said it’s all about education.
“When you study studio art you are studying the process, aesthetics and history,” she said. “Those things are such a wonderful background for what I do. Then the valuation education teaches you the methodology and principles.”
The Icon Centre has no plans of closing its doors anytime soon.
“I am going to keep the business going as long as I can,” Carlson said. “I think when I can’t do it anymore, I will probably concentrate on my own art.”
What: A fine art appraisal and consulting company
Where: Home-based business in Crystal Lake
Information: Call 815-459-9151 or visit lynncarlson.us