After talking to the experts at Uprise Art, Tappan Collective, and Absolut Art (as well as several Homepolish designers), designer Kelly Martin talks about how to effortlessly bring art that expresses your personality and meshes with your home décor.
From a designer’s perspective, art can be one of the most difficult aspects of designing a space for a client. It is one of the most subjective areas of what designers do, and it’s so much more personal to the client than say, deciding whether your sofa should be grey or beige. When it comes to choosing art, it is our job as designers to guide the client in the direction of discovering art that speaks to them and that goes with the home. Ultimately, we want the space to feel unique and special for the client, and art can certainly make or break the space.
I personally feel that art is a worthy investment for anyone. There are so many resources for real art that cater to budgets low and high. When I say “real art,” I am talking about one-of-a-kind, original works by professionals. And contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t always mean expensive. After speaking with Tze Chun, founder of Uprise Art, I pulled a good piece of wisdom: “It is more beneficial and special to have a few great pieces rather than a bunch of posters.” I couldn’t agree with her more! Uprise Art strives to demystify the buying process for the clients by working hand-in-hand with them to curate their own personal collection. Uprise Art happens to offer free art advising where your designer can send photographs, mood boards, and desired scale of the art. Best of all, if you’re on a tighter budget, they have an “Art Under $800” portion of their website.
It is more beneficial and special to have a few great pieces rather than a bunch of posters.
I also met Nahema Mehta from Absolut Art which is a relatively new tier of the Absolut Company (well known for their vodka brand). Like Uprise, they represent artists from all over the world, and they too are focused on finding the new up and comers and making art accessible. After success in Europe, they are coming to the US. (Check out the preview link above for immediate access.)
After working with many clients who were trying to develop their own taste in art, I decided to try to jump into their shoes and think about what type of questions I would have if I felt lost in the art world. I spoke with a few of my fellow Homepolish designers to get their perspective.
Where to Start
Homepolish designerrecommended to “start by looking at entire rooms that are inspiring you and try to note if there is a certain style of art that is repeating in these rooms (i.e. bright abstract paintings, retro looking graphic prints, etc).” Once you’ve noted these patterns, you can “hone in on the overall aesthetic you’re after and then narrow that into the type of art that works with the overall aesthetic.” Researching other interiors that you admire will help you cull your own unique style.
Start by looking at entire rooms that are inspiring you and try to note if there is a certain style of art that is repeating in these rooms
But there are SO many options!
“Art is all about what hits your heart, what speaks to you. And it doesn’t matter why, it just matters that it does.” says Homepolish designer Shannon Tate. Shannon is all about the love of finding art that excites you, which I think is a very true and free spirited approach to curating your own collection. You shouldn’t invest your money or dedicate a section of your home to a piece that doesn’t make you feel thrilled. And in that light, you shouldn’t rush art purchases. These are the sort of pieces that you layer into your home over time.
To be eclectic or not to be?
Mixing and matching your art is key. You don’t want to be stuck with all black and white photographs or all pop art, for example. Falling into showcasing one style makes each piece lose its unique quality. Leah also agreed that “introducing some variety in the art is great for some visual diversity.” Working with an art advisor can really help you to accumulate a collection that relates but doesn’t feel repetitive. You want coherency but not mundanity.
Accumulate a collection that relates but doesn’t feel repetitive. You want coherency but not mundanity.
How do I know which pieces are worth it?
The stress of spending money on art can often freeze you from buying at all. And that’s a shame. But if you go into your search with some research and go to the right resources, it will be less intimidating.
Leah suggested some of the “it” spots to check out: “If you’re looking to invest in some original artwork, resources like Tappan Collective and Uprise Art are excellent, as they do a great job of vetting emerging artists and curating a diverse collection of artwork. They also have advisors that are able to guide you through the art process and provide more information about the artists that you’re interested in.”
As Leah mentioned, The Tappan Collective is another amazing online art resource to check out. I spoke with one of Tappan Collective’s founders, Chelsea Neman, who describes Tappan Collective as a place that strives to “change both collectors’ and artists’ relationship with the arts and between each other, that it has and will continue to change the way the next generation experiences art buying.” Like Uprise Art, Tappan travels all over to find the best emerging artists to represent. These are the people to look out for and who could be the next Warhols or Pollocks (not even exaggerating!). Resources like Tappan and Uprise Art represent these up-and-comers before their art is showing in major galleries all over the world. By investing in their art while they are still emerging, you are buying wisely because the value of the art could triple once the artist is showcasing in major galleries.
But is it safe to buy online?
Shannon mentioned that “the only difference is that the artist being featured in a gallery is being represented.” Or in other words, an established curator believes in them and thinks that they are sellable. When searching online, Shannon notes that “you can find those same artists from the galleries, but you’re also opening yourself up to a limitless number of other artists.” Sourcing artists online is an endless hunt! That said, this is another reason why it’s helpful to work with a designer that has already narrowed down the search for you and can guide you to the best sources to pay attention to. The best designers know what is out there and are keeping up with what is hot right now. Which is a good segue into my next question…
How can a designer help my art search?
Leah brought up, “A designer will be able to look at the style of interiors that you’re drawn to and translate the desired aesthetic into a few art styles that will help achieve the look. Sometimes the direction may be surprising, but as designers, our job is to guide our clients and sometimes push them toward taking some aesthetic risks that are surprising and can often be the best part of a space!” Designers are basically walking indexes of all the best vendors and resources that are out there because that’s what we do all day… hunt for the best spots to find the perfect piece for each client’s home.
As designers, our job is to guide our clients and sometimes push them toward taking some aesthetic risks that are surprising and can often be the best part of a space!
If you find art that you like but you cannot visualize it in the space, most galleries will allow designers to memo pieces for their clients. This means that the gallery will bring the piece into your home and hold it up where you think you’d like it to go. That way you can see it in the space. This can be beneficial especially when you are contemplating investing in a real piece of art. You need to be sure that it is exactly what you want. There’s nothing wrong with being cautious.
Here are a few places to check out that I haven’t mentioned already: Saatchi Art, Artspace Warehouse, Fiercely Curious Art, UGallery, & Vango Art. Most of these spots offer art advising and can help you narrow down the search within your budget.
Ultimately, art shouldn’t be scary or intimidating at all. It is such a fantastic way to express yourself in your own home. The art that you choose should reflect your personal style and should make you feel good when you look at it. And importantly, it should mean something to you. It doesn’t matter what that meaning is, as long as you love it!