After getting a master's degree in art history from the University of Washington, Fossum now owns her own art-appraisal service.
What do you do? I am the owner and operator of McAllister/Fossum Appraisal Services, LLC. We specialize in appraising fine art and antiques for a variety of purposes, including insurance coverage, estate-tax liability, charitable contributions and resale.
How did you choose that career? I moved to Seattle to get my master’s degree in art history from the University of Washington. After I graduated, I started working for appraiser Lynn McAllister, who had been in the business for more than 30 years. A couple years later, she was ready to retire, and I took over. I did not think about appraising as a career when I was in school, but once I started it felt like a natural fit.
What’s a typical day like? Most days I am at my office working on projects. This involves researching the market for different artists or objects, making calls to galleries and dealers, and examining auction results. About once a week, I am at clients’ homes in and around Seattle, documenting items for appraisals.
What’s the best part of your job? I never see the same thing twice. There are consistencies, such as artists and styles that are typical of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, but I am always surprised and excited by the pieces I get to see. The amazing collections I work with make my days great.
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What surprises people about your job? People are surprised by the situations in which one might need an appraisal, and how values are determined. Many people associate what I do with what they have seen on “Antiques Roadshow,” and assume people come up with values in their heads, rather than doing very deliberate market research.