While pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from South Dakota State University, Elkton native, Emilie Nettinga, remembers being told that the only career path for someone with her degree was education.
After graduation however, she went on to work at several Sioux Falls galleries, and it was there that she noticed a trend.
“Customers kept coming in with the same question, ‘How much is this worth?'” said Nettinga.
Legally, a gallery owner or worker can’t offer that type of information to customers, as it would constitute a conflict of interest. Additionally, certification requirements vary by state for property appraisers.
“I just saw a need,” she said. “It was a way for me to do something new and on my own.”
In October 2018, Nettinga took the leap and opened her own appraisal business, Earmark Evaluations. To become certified, she took classes and became a member of the International Society of Appraisers (ISA).
THE NAME “EARMARK EVALUATIONS” IS A MELDING OF NETTINGA’S INITIALS BEFORE SHE GOT MARRIED [EAR] AND THE TERM “EARMARK,” WHICH MEANS TO DEEM SOMETHING AS IMPORTANT. NETTINGA ALWAYS SIGNS HER ARTWORK “EAR.”
“the hardest part is the honesty when i’m telling people their items aren’t worth as much as they think they are.”
While art is Nettinga’s primary focus and passion, her current certification qualifies her to evaluate a variety of personal property, and she continues to take classes to expand her offerings.
Appraisers can take classes to become certified in specific types of property, such as antiques, clocks, or jewelry.
“You have to keep educating and re-educating yourself,” she said.
When it comes to clientele, Nettinga hopes to focus on South Dakota and its surrounding states.
“Sioux Falls is, as many people know, an awesome mix,” she said. “It’s a really large art community. Some people are doing old-world, traditional things, and others are doing very modern and contemporary things.”
Regions tend to have a style all their own. In the South Dakota/Minnesota/Iowa area, Nettinga says nature is a familiar artistic theme.
“Native American art is also very big here,” she said. “My first job out of college was at a Native American gallery that has sadly closed, but you get very historical, interesting pieces. I’ve even met appraisers that specialize in Native American art.”
While Nettinga is an artist herself, it’s her duty as an appraiser to be completely objective.
“It’s fun to see different people’s tastes, and it allows me to meet really interesting people,” she said.
As far as the evaluation process goes, Nettinga operates as a traveling appraiser.
“I go to them, whether it’s their business, gallery, or home, and I meet with the people there. I do the inspection, take all the photographs, and get to know the piece a bit more,” she said.
NETTINGA IS STARTING TO PRODUCE SHOWS AND EXHIBITS OF HER OWN WORK. SHE HAS PARTICIPATED IN THE DOWNTOWN ART & WINE WALK AND PLANS TO DISPLAY A SERIES ON HONEYBEES CREATED ENTIRELY OUT OF BEESWAX AT THE OUTDOOR CAMPUS THIS SUMMER.
After viewing the piece in person, she returns home to write the report. These can range in length, with up to 20 pages of information and photos.
“The hardest part is the honesty, if I’m telling people their items aren’t worth as much as they think they are,” said Nettinga. “People attach a lot of personal value to items that are really special to them.”
When she isn’t working on her new business, Nettinga stays busy with a day job at Schmitt Music, creating her own artwork, and spending time with her husband and 3-year-old daughter.
At Schmitt Music, Nettinga has been given the unique opportunity to create a mural within the shop. Initially, it was planned as a traditional paint-on-the-wall mural, but Nettinga has since given it her own twist and shifted to a sculptural mural.
“I’m using that big pink Styrofoam insulation you would use in a house, and taking heat to it to melt and carve into it,” she said.
If you stop by Schmitt Music, you might be lucky enough to witness the work in progress.
Nettinga’s personal art will always be a priority, but in the future, she hopes to take the appraisal business full-time.
“If you need an appraisal, you have to find someone who really is an appraiser. Just having the right information or being an expert on a topic doesn’t qualify someone to appraise your property,” she said. “I like to educate people so there’s a trust in what I’m doing.”
For more information, visit earmarkevaluations.com.