Finding the perfect art for your home is an art form in itself. Kuldea Co-Founder, Deirdre Mc Gettrick, asked an expert, Lorraine Aaron, Director and Co-Founder of Curious Egg for ideas and inspiration on bringing art into your home.
Why place art into your home?
The most common thing I see when people decorate their homes is that art is considered last – if at all. Even some professional interior designers are guilty of quickly grabbing bland off-the-shelf matchy-matchy pictures that go with the sofa and curtains as a frantic last-minute nod to including art in a scheme. So why is this an issue? Why should we bring art into our homes and why think of it at an early stage?
Art has the power to bring something unique that no other element of your decor can do and that’s because it’s not the decor. The moment we stop seeing it as something that should fit in and be quiet or be added purely as pretty decoration, is
when our rooms come alive and transform into unique and interesting spaces that are as individual as we are.
Thinking about the kind of art you want at an early stage can help narrow down the other colours you need in the room to complement or contrast with the art rather than the other way around. It may even help you realise that you don’t need as many other ‘things’ to fill the room and the payback can be limitless.
Impact of art
Art can uplift, inspire, make you laugh, challenge your current views and can even save you a lot of money. Think of a room you want to decorate, but let’s say you have a tiny budget. Sometimes wallpaper, new carpets, rugs, lighting or furniture are just not possible. A freshen up with paint which is the most economical decorating medium, provides a perfect backdrop for art that will take the attention away from the less exciting features of a room and give it new life.
You can make it all about the art and don’t be shy with scale. Big art in small rooms makes an impact. You’ll be amazed at how just this one thing this changes how a room is experienced.
What makes good art?
Art is about thoughts and ideas – it’s that simple. When an artist makes a piece of work they are putting forward their thoughts and ideas about the world as they experience and observe it. Artist may be trying to capture personality in a self-portrait, the beauty of light in a landscape scene, social or political comment or an emotional reaction caught in colour or texture. Drawing, painting, screenprint, sculpture, sound installation or active performance, it’s all based on thoughts and ideas.
It’s up to you to decide if you are interested in those thoughts and ideas or not – that’s what makes buying art so subjective. We’re all interested in different things.
When an idea connects with you, it’s like magic and it creates a little spark. Every time you look at the artwork, the connection will recharge and you’ll know that it holds within. It’s someone’s personal message that you received in your way. How exciting is that?
Art stands out when there’s a strong idea behind it, presented with skill and consideration and with the artist’s own ‘voice’. Something that is well crafted is, of course, a good thing because more time will have gone into the artist’s practice, the quality of materials they use and having used those materials correctly, the piece is more likely to last longer.
If you fall in love with an amateur work of art which isn’t technically brilliant yet connects with you on some level, then I say go for it and love it no less. Especially if it brings you joy!
Buying ‘good’ art is like inviting a guest to dinner, they don’t have to be loud, clever or funny but if they aren’t saying anything or they’re just repeating what everyone else is saying, they’ll soon become very dull to be around and that makes for a very boring night! The same is true of the art you bring into your home.
Choosing art for your home
The art you choose says a lot about who you are so it’s worth putting some thought into what you put out on display. We can be afraid of choosing the wrong thing where art is concerned and worrying about what our friends, neighbours, aunties or guests will think of what we have in our homes. Remember, it’s your home and you that has to live with it. Be brave and choose something that you love. The reality is that even if they don’t love the art you choose, they’ll love your enthusiasm for it.
Art doesn’t have to be stuffy or overly serious, it can be a great talking point when you have friends to visit. There is so much out there to be discovered and plenty of light-hearted humorous pieces that will kick off the atmosphere in a room like no other.
Considerations to help guide you in your choice of art for a room
Thinking of how you want to use the room and how you want the room to feel:
- If it’s a social space such as a kitchen or living room, the artwork you choose may have higher ‘energy’ so the colours may be brighter or there might be more going on in the subject matter to create a talking point.
- Hallways are spaces we move through fairly quickly so maybe not the best place for small detailed pieces that could be missed but a statement work at the end of a hall can be high impact and effective in adding a bit of drama to what might otherwise be a passive space.
- Bedrooms are where our energy is lower and we want to unwind so choosing quieter combinations of colour and more gentle pieces may work well.
- A guest bedroom is a great place to experiment with quirky, fun and unusual pieces that will surprise, shock or make people smile without taking over the main rooms.
People are individuals of course so you may have a calm tranquil kitchen and living room but your bedroom is a riot! The relationship between the energy in artwork and how the space it’s displayed in can feel is a strong one. Vibrant hot reds and yellows and clashing colours are high energy while soft greys, greens, pinks and harmonious neutrals are lower energy. In either case, the pieces should say something interesting and if they don’t stop your eye to look more closely for more than a second then they’re saying nothing at all – move on and choose something else. Be Brave.
Learning to ‘see’ art
Opening your mind and eyes to buying exciting art in new forms can take time and of course, you have to be convinced of what’s ‘interesting’ about it before you’re persuaded to buy. It’s a bit like choosing a partner. When we’re young we may just choose someone because they’re pretty or handsome and popular. Through life experience, we learn to look for more – shared outlook on life. Take more time and build the skills to be able ‘see’ and understand what lies beneath the surface.
Sometimes by not allowing ourselves to be seduced by the same old things just because it looks ‘nice’ or is photo-realistic or because everyone else has it on their walls, we open up to new ideas and start to see and actually seek more unusual art that stimulates us in a different way than just being pretty to look at.
Take the time to understand what might lie behind a certain style of painting, drawing, sculptural technique or another art form, how and why an artist uses certain materials or presents a subject in a certain way, then you will start to ‘see’ the value in art. This way you open yourself up to discovering new art. Your home display of art will take off into the stratosphere because suddenly it’ll reflect a very personal journey of discovery.
If you’re new to buying art, then a good place to start is with prints. These are less of a commitment and can be really affordable and widely available, especially online – but watch out for ‘motifs. Art and motifs are two different things. Trends and motifs drive sales – simple.
Motifs are decor, there’s no idea beyond them other than they look pretty and they’ll sell well = profit. You’ll know them when you see them! Currently ferns, leopards, stags, flamingos, pineapples etc. but of course as trends do, these will change. When you buy an image of these, you’re generally not buying art, you’re buying decoration but as long as you know that then they can be great for filling the gaps in your ‘gallery’ wall.
When you are feeling a little more confident in choosing pieces you love, look for limited edition prints that are within your budget. Limited edition prints have a cap on how many can be made and it’s illegal to sell any more than this number. This is a move towards something that not everyone has and that makes them more special.
These prints usually cost a little more as the ability to generate income for the artist is limited unlike unlimited runs, but they are still generally more affordable than an original of the same work. Original artworks will cost quite a bit more than prints depending on where you buy them as they are one-off pieces and the artists will have put his or her time, thoughts and energy into producing this unique piece. You’ll be receiving something no one else has – there is nothing quite like owning original artwork.
Local art college degree shows and art fairs are great places to get a feel for what’s out there but also go exploring on social channels such as Instagram as it’s a wonderful visual place to discover artists and unique online galleries that offer well-priced works as their overheads tend to be less.
The best advice I can give you – always buy with your heart, not your head. Yes, you will find artworks at a college or art school degree show for a fraction of what they could be worth in years but there’s no guarantee. If you buy with your heart, I can guarantee you’ll never regret a single purchase of art.