May 22, 2018

Buying Art: How to Dress a Naked Wall

A large number of the conversations I have with clients touch on one particular topic that completely paralyzes so many… What on earth should go on the walls of these beautiful homes? If you aren’t naturally drawn to art, or you simply don’t trust your instincts, it can be hard to know where to start. It can be harder still to actually pull the trigger and make a purchase. When this happens, the result is a mess of naked walls… and that’s no way to live!

Art brings color, texture, visual interest and, most important, personality into your home. It can make a space feel polished and be a reflection of the home’s inhabitants. Art doesn’t have to be an oil painting or a limited edition print – it can be something as simple as a colorful scribble your preschooler brought home last week or a charming pencil drawing you found at a junk shop. It needs only to be pleasing to your eye and make you happy when you look at it. Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

These days, there are so many amazing, affordable places to purchase great stuff for your walls. Once you figure out what you are drawn to, one of the easiest ways to buy art is by shopping at the various online shops that have popped up over the last few years. Sites like etsy and Society6 are great places to start. They offer a wide selection at great price points but, unless you have a clear idea of what you are hunting for, they can be overwhelming due to the sheer amount of listings. One way to navigate this sea of possibility is by starting with a clearly defined search – “black and white abstract art” for example, or “nature photography.” You will still end up with hundreds of listings to scroll through but it’s a start, and once you spend a little time hunting it gets easier to refine your search criteria.

If you are looking for an experience that is a little less hectic and a bit more curated, Minted, 20X200 and Artfully Walls are all great bets. Some of these places offer framing services as well… one stop shopping is the easiest way to dress those naked walls! This option is a great way to get started and to begin building confidence in your taste.

The last online option I will mention is a group of sites that showcase emerging artists. Saatchi or The Tappan Collective are two that come immediately to mind. On these sites you can find really cool, original art from all over the world. Much of the art is priced well, you get to skip gallery fees after all, but if you are looking for a steal then this may not be the best place to start. Some people buy art at these retailers with the hope that the artist is “discovered” and their pretty picture becomes more of an investment. This is not how I personally buy art. I just like what I like and enjoy hanging it in my home.

photography by Erica Moffitt | Naki Studios

Another great way to start testing the art waters and figuring out what you are drawn to is by shopping local. Why not kill some time on a Saturday afternoon visiting a few local galleries or hitting some art shows? We are so lucky to live in an area simply crawling with artists of all kinds! There are art shows at places like the Pierro Gallery in South Orange and  1978 Maplewood Arts Center on Springfield Avenue in Maplewood. The two towns also sponsor different art extravaganzas like ArtWalk in the fall and SOMA Artists Studio Tour which happens to be this weekend. On June 2-3, artists all over Maplewood and South Orange will open their studio doors to the public. Many local shops host artists within their walls as well… The Maplewood Mercantile is hosting 4 artists this year!

Another local option, one you can participate in without leaving your sofa, is to take a look at the SOMA General Store. It’s an online, local site that sells, among so many other things, the work of local artists. It’s a great way to get to know what’s happening artistically in the neighborhood.

So, how do you start collecting? Where do you begin? Well, first try to determine what sort of art you are most drawn to. Is it photos? Portraits? Do you like abstract paintings? Watercolors? There is no wrong answer, that is the amazing thing about art! Having a hard time establishing even that? Start by just looking through some websites and save images that strike you – for whatever reason – to learn about what draws your eye in. Browse some local stores and start looking at what is hanging on the walls – not just on the displays. Most important, if you see something that you love, for whatever reason,  don’t second guess yourself. Snap it up and put it on your wall!

I want to also mention that there is nothing wrong with going to HomeGoods or Pottery Barn and buying a picture that you love… But that’s the key. You should love it. It should speak to you. It’s only a steal if you would have paid more for it and if you are only making a purchase to fill a space then you are better off with a pretty mirror. Really. This is all part of curating, not decorating your home. Why not take a bit more time and find a piece that has some meaning? A story behind it? Often, when I look around at the art hanging on my walls, I think about where I bought it, whom I bought it from and what phase of life I was in at the time of its acquisition. Every piece has a memory and I just think that is so very cool!

There is only one rule when it comes to buying art – art truly is each to his own. I am 100% positive that many of the pieces I have collected throughout the years are not everybody’s taste! And that, wonderful readers, is what makes art so amazing.

So now that you know how to begin, what are you on the lookout for?

Happy hunting!

In the mood to read more? Check out these related posts: Hunting and GatheringEveryday Objects as ArtCurated, Not Decorated