The most important thing to know when buying art is IT WILL TAKE TIME. You can’t rush perfection – and don’t let your money burn a hole in your pocket. It’s better to spend a year looking for a piece that speaks to you rather than buying something you kinda like ‘because you need it now’. Never buy the first thing you see – unless of course you can’t stop thinking about it.
You’ll often find affordable art displayed in chain furniture or homewares stores. But I strongly advise you resist the urge to buy this sort of art. Those pieces are mass-produced and are designed to match the trend that store is carrying. If you buy it, you’ll hate it in a few years.
Likewise, you’ll never find art that you will love forever if you go shopping for a piece that ‘matches’ your blue sofa cushions. While it’s important to bear in mind the light and tones of your home, never buy art to match soft-furnishings. It’s far less expensive to adjust your decor to tie with the art, rather than the other way round.
The best way to find that special piece that fits your budget and totally speaks to you is to visit independent galleries, artist collectives, knick-knack shops, and hunt online. Some cafes even display fabulous art for sale. You just need to do a little research and always keep your eyes open.
Art is the best souvenir to bring back from your travels. It’s small, light (if it’s unframed) and easy to carry. And it will transport you back to that special place when hung beautifully in your home. Art is a little slice of culture, history and memory.
When you’re a bit short of cash, just remember that art is much more than expensive works from galleries. It can be a framed letter, currency from your favourite country, photographs, textiles – anything that’s flat, really! And the best thing about displaying your treasures on your walls rather than throughout the room is that your house looks homely while your surfaces are clean and clear.
When displaying your art collection, just be conscious of scale and detail. Don’t hang a framed letter or a tiny ink drawing on a huge wall behind your couch. They need to be in a small, close place, like a hallway, staircase, or column, so people can get up and personal. Likewise, give large abstract works space to breathe. They are better viewed from a distance so hang them on a big wall that you can step back from.
I’m also a huge fan of the ‘cluster’. If you have a collection of art with similar tones (like neutral colours, or black and white), hang them grouped together. But avoid hanging them in a straight line. Create Tetris-like shapes to ensure the overall effect is pleasing to the eye. Look at these great gallery wall examples.
Just remember, building an art collection that you love will take a lifetime. Start small and always buy within your budget. You don’t need to worry about pieces not working well together. If you’re disciplined and only buy art that speaks to you and is your true style (not fads or trends) then your collection will look cohesive without being matchy-matchy. Buy from the heart and you’ll love it forever.