When Ann and I first got the gallery up and running ten years ago (it’s amazing how time flies), we were both surprised when our clients would come to us and say “I’m not quite sure how to buy art or start a collection” or “I really love this painting, but I’m afraid it won’t go with the sofa/chairs/paint color” or “Help!” Since we both adore art and both love to write, we came up with a little series on art “how-to’s” that we printed and offered to our clients.
Since then, we’ve all grown up a little bit and have graduated from paper copies to a series of blogs on our site about collecting, hanging, framing and even making sure your marriage survives choosing art. And, even after all this time, there’s rarely a day that goes by without one of us refering back to our How To’s.
It’s a simple formula. We think that when it comes to art, you just have to remember that there are no shoulds, shouldn’ts, musts or must-nots. It’s all about following your heart and trusting your eye:
Start with your heart: Art is so personal and unique, that we believe the only magic formula for collecting art is to start with your heart. And what someone else loves – your husband, your mother, your friends – may not be what gets your heart racing. That’s okay. And it’s also okay to love lots of different artists, styles and mediums. Variety adds soul, gravitas and even humor to a collection.
One Day at a Time: Don’t look at the whole room and think, I’ve got to fill all these walls with art – now! Wait to find what you really love. You’ll be happier with blank walls than hanging something you don’t love to fill a void. And most important: don’t settle for anything less than original.
Get Smart: Visit art galleries, museums, art shows, artists’ open studios and art fairs. Savor the process and ask lots of questions. The more you see, the more you’ll come to refine your own taste preferences and be able to recognize what you love.
Match the sofa: What?? That’s right. It’s natural that when you buy what you love, your taste will be drawn to what works together. But here’s the kicker: Don’t buy it to match the sofa; buy it because you love it. And then watch it work with the sofa – every time.
Know when to pounce: When you feel your heart being tugged, and you love it but don’t know where to put it, you probably should buy it. Art is one of a kind and you won’t find it again, and for that reason, you don’t want it to get away. Trust us!
Buy Something Old: As you build your collection, no matter what your taste in art, give it some depth and soul by adding a few wonderful old pieces, perhaps something you’ve inherited. Mix it with contemporary art and see how one makes the other sing.
Stretch yourself: Just like you don’t want to know everything about a person when you first meet them, think of modern art as a wonderful challenge, that you will get to know over time. Let it unfold slowly, and watch your love grow for it over time.
Something Blue: Art, like fashion and design, has certain styles that go in and out of popularity. Be aware of the trends but don’t become a victim of them. Will you be happy with this over time? Whenever in doubt, let your own heart be your guide.
Something Tried: Try it, live with it and hopefully love it. But if your love wanes, reframe it, move it, or hang it with something different. It will either come back to life or need to go away for a while or it will be time to pass it on, and that’s OK.
Something True: It all comes down to this: Love. Listen to that little voice that tugs at your heart and try to hear what it’s saying. If you buy what you love, it will work.
Ta ta – and happy collecting.