There are three types of people who amble into art galleries: those who are educated about art, those who are not, and those who pretend to be.
I do not know about you, but I fit into the second category. I know so little I would not even attempt to feign being an art connoisseur.
As a teen, art meant tearing out glossy pages of the Backstreet Boys’ mugs out of Teen Bop and making a collage of them on my bedroom ceiling (*cringe*). Well, at least I have outgrown that much.
Still, today, the only pieces of art I own are framed prints from Hobby Lobby, and as Sarah Parker, an art consultant at Masters Gallery (www.mastersgallerydenver.com) at the Village Shops at the Landmark explained to me—those do not qualify.
“When you go into someone’s home, that’s another extension of that person,” Parker said. “You can really tell a lot about them by how they dress, how their home is decorated and what kind of art collection they have.”
As we age throughout our 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond, our lives advance in all spheres: careers, homes, cars, clothing—so, why not art, too?
And, it is not as rocket science-y as you might think; no need to have been an art history major to simply appreciate its beauty.
“It’s all in the eye of the beholder,” Parker said.
Well, you up and coming art connoisseur you, behold: seven rules of thumb to buying art for the home.
1. GAIN EXPOSURE
While this may seem obvious, in our fast-paced lives the arts must be worked in—with intent.
Visit plenty of galleries. Many art galleries clustered in the same area hold First Friday’s. The galleries extend their hours and serve cocktails the first Friday of each month.
Make an effort to attend art gallery openings, go to the theater and experience the arts of other cultures while traveling. Or, for something a little more intimate, explore one of the city’s art museums as a date night—unlike a movie, there will be plenty of time for conversation.
2. START WITH ONE KEY PIECE & BUY WHAT YOU LOVE
Selecting a first piece of artwork may seem like a daunting task, but as Parker said, choosing art is a matter to be left up to the heart.
“Artwork should be very inspiring to you,” she said. “It’s an enhancement. It’s an extension of who you are.”
Parker said she has witnessed clients brought to tears by a piece—this is the feeling a magnificent work of art embodies for the collector: a personal connection.
The art could remind you of a past life experience, inspire you, or be an outward expression of your personality.
Instead of over-thinking it, let the art find you providentially. As Parker said, “Know it when you see it.”
3. “ROMANCE THE ART”
From our food to our clothing to our décor, we are often distanced from where products derive as consumers; the gap can be closed in the art realm, Parker said, with what she calls a little “romancing.”
When you find a piece of art you love, ask the art consultant (or, research for yourself) who the artist is and the details of their creative process. With that, not only will you fall in love with (and understand) a piece of art, but with the artist.
“It enriches you as a person—culture of any kind: theater, music, fashion and artwork.” — Sarah Parker, Masters Gallery
4. BUY WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD
Art does not automatically constitute a four-figure price tag; it is available at all price points, even free (think about your niece’s finger-painting she gave you, which proudly hung on your refrigerator door).
However, Parker gives two pointers. For your art to stand the test of time in value opt for:
- Original works
- Bronze casting
The price of casting is on the up-and-up, and original works (versus digitally-copied prints called “Limited Editions”) never will depreciate in value.
Another tip to keep in mind: art is only worth what the last person paid for it. Beware of estimated future appraisal values. Unless they hold a crystal ball, future worth cannot be determined, Parker said; only present market value can be.
If you have fallen in love with a piece that by purchasing it you are essentially sealing off your destiny to eat Ramen for the rest of your life, ask the gallery if they offer payment plans. Many do. It is a layaway of sorts. Put a deposit down and make payments until the piece is paid for in full, then take it home.
5. COMPLEMENT INTERIORS
Use art not only to culturally enrich your home interior, use it to complement the décor you already own. Or, start with a piece of art and decorate a space based upon it.
As Colin Painter, author of Contemporary Art and the Home, puts it, “Within the art world, the home has been addressed as a subject and even used as a temporary gallery and a space for installations.”
Display your art as a focal point in each room and play up décor colors. Invest in custom framing to add a little extra something.
6. HIRE AN ART CONSULTANT
If you desire more of a guided approach to purchasing art, hire an art consultant to lead the pathway paved with your arty intentions.
Consultants will survey your space and your personal tastes in a home consultation. Then, they will locate that perfect piece with its fitting size, color, style and artist.
Many perform the service free of charge as Parker does. Consultants can also work with your interior designer.
7. COMMISSION YOUR OWN ARTWORK
If you love an artist’s style, yet their available pieces do not match the color scheme of your home, find out if they do commissioned work.
Artists might be willing to create the same work of art hanging in a gallery, yet create it using the hues of your décor; a one-of-a-kind? You cannot beat that.
Just think of how impressed your friends will be when you tell them you commissioned your own piece of artwork; own the snobbery, my friend.
And like the island of misfits we call the backs of our closets, with art you may look back one day and say, “What was I thinking?” and that is OK.
“As we age and grow and experience and live our life, a lot of times our tastes and our opinions on things change,” Parker said.
The beholder’s eye evolves, yet one thing remains the same: the need to surround ourselves with beautiful things in our homes.