Head or Heart?

The title of this blog relates to the question I get asked about the most on my Instagram feed and it’s how should I choose art?

Since I started posting my home a couple of years ago the focus from others has always been where do I source my art, what is the best way to choose it and whats the best way to frame and hang it?

Right then let’s work our way through these one by one.

  1. Where to buy and source art? Nowadays there are a bonkers array of choices to buy and source art. However whatever route you choose I would always advocate using reputable sources with ethical credentials and a transparent supply chain, it’s more sustainable in the long run.

I initially started buying from galleries yonks ago which I admit was a daunting prospect but as my confidence grew when I started to understand what I liked it became an easier path to navigate. There are fewer galleries with a fixed address now than say 20 years ago but they are still some good places about but admittedly the good ones are fewer and further apart but if you have one locally then check it out.

However, art fairs and exhibitions are an excellent source as generally speaking they tend to have a more relaxed vibe. My first foray into this was via the Affordable Art Fair (AAF) in Battersea many moons ago. The AAF revolutionised the contemporary art market in the UK as it made art, accessible, affordable and immediately available (which for an impatient person like me was like manna from heaven!).

I would still recommend the AAF and they are held in different parts of the UK and abroad. There are newer contenders on the block such as The Other Art Fair or you have major exhibitions like Frieze Art Fair for contemporary art, but it depends on your budget and what you are looking for.

Generally speaking art fairs are an absolutely brilliant source of inspiration as there are oodles of galleries present selling art by loads of different artists, some of the prices are wholeheartedly affordable, the vibe is normally buzzing, heck sometimes alcohol is even being sold, music is playing and generally it’s a great day out for all involved.

I say do your research beforehand so that you can target the pieces you want to see or sometimes it can be overwhelming, but this is not always necessary.

Huge advancements in technology and digitalisation means that the plethora of choice online is now mind boggling. However, if you want to take a targeted approach then social media is another excellent source as you can follow small businesses, artists and or galleries as you please and have instant access to mountains of choice.

Other obvious sources include the online giants such as Etsy and eBay where it is still possible to score some real gems. Alternatively suss out when auctions are being held.  At my first auction I got so excited I swear to god I was bidding against myself at one point!

Alternatives includes vintage markets such as Ardingly,  Newark or Kempton plus there are loads of places abroad. I'm not trying to provide you with an exhaustible list is that would be overwhelming I’m just trying to give you ideas.

When you are out and about keep your eyes peeled. I’ve even bought from a restaurant before as they had art for sale displayed on their walls. But, I think one of the most underutilised sources are holidays. If you stumble across something on your travels, then nab it as you might not see it again. You can arrange for it to be shipped to you, but this obviously racks up on the expense front so be mindful of this. 

  1. How to choose art? Well this is literally the million-dollar question isn’t it! The obvious thing is to acquire an investment piece by commercially tracking what artists have sold their work for and buying and selling accordingly at the right time. Moreover, if you manage to secure a rare piece like a Banksy (unless it’s been shredded) or a Picasso well it’s time to give up the day job and do the conga around some lovely little bolt hole in the South Pacific (or wherever floats your boat). But let’s be realistic the average person doesn’t have gazillions to splash out on art unless you're dealer etc.

What I will say is if you are looking for something unique and you want to buy an original piece for your home you’ve got to instantly love it, it should speak to you (not literally) as it’s akin to being in a long-term relationship!

Personally, I have always bought art based on gut instinct and whether it makes my heart skip a beat. Whilst I will admit that 20 years of buying experience later I know a good commercial investment it’s never been my motive.

Likewise, if you go for a print always try to go a for limited edition piece as to be honest it will always be worth more than an open edition. The rule of thumb is always try to go for editions with the smallest number produced and less than 25 edition number wise is always a better bet. It is also the best way to curate a unique collection that you will love.

But in either scenario spend more if you can afford to and buy less for sustainable reasons – simples! 

  1. What’s the best was to frame and hang it? Now this is important especially the framing part. If you are buying an original piece from a gallery source the likelihood is that it will already be framed. If not I would always use a professional framing service as they have the expertise to do this for you properly.

However, regardless of whether your print is an open edition or a limited edition the most important thing is that the glazing should not touch the image. This is to avoid the build-up of moisture and condensation due to the fluctuations in temperature as this could damage your artwork.

If your budget does not permit you taking it to get professionally framed there are plenty of shops on the high street that have good quality frames. Once again, I can recommend plenty of places, but I don’t want this blog to turn into the magna carter!

With regards to how you hang your artwork this depends on where it’s going and the look you are trying to achieve. Pre-made or custom-made frames will already dictate how the piece will be hung but if you want to do this yourself there are online sources or hobby shops that will help you with this. It also depends on whether you are trying to create an oh so fashionable gallery wall or whether you want to have your art as the centre piece but this is a write up for another time.

Right then I hope this has been helpful and thanks for reading!

That’s All folks.