FAR from simply filling a blank wall, the right piece of art can transform a room, make a statement, and even pull an entire home together. But finding one that fits with your style and space can be an intimidating prospect. Eleni Duke, founder of Shoreditch gallery Curious Duke, shares her top tips to get you started.
Buy what you love
The first and most important rule of buying art for your home is to go with your gut, rather than following fads or trends.
“People often think they need a degree in art to appreciate a piece, let alone spending a lot of money on it, which is totally wrong,” she explains.
“You should be able to just like a painting for the fact that it’s blue, or not even know why you like it, just that you like it.
“Take some time to have a proper look around galleries and shops and figure out what you like, artists you’re drawn to, and you will start to understand your tastes.
“Don’t focus too much on trends and keep in mind that if you’re buying an original painting that’s something completely unique, it’s the only one of its kind in the world, and if you move or paint your wall or change your furniture, you’re still going to love it.”
Do your research
As with any major purchase, research is key to making an informed decision, so spend time exploring your favourite styles of art and the artists behind them. Eleni says getting to know the artists can help to create more context around certain pieces and help you identify exactly why you like them.
“It’s nice to actually go to the gallery and speak to an artist about their inspiration, their process for creating the artwork – you feel a bit more involved in the final piece.”
If you can’t get out to meet the artist in person, check out gallery websites for profiles of their artists, or start following them on social media for a glimpse into their own spaces or a sneak peak at a new piece.
Once you’re ready to start narrowing things down with a gallery or dealer, arrive armed with a list of art styles, pieces, or artists that you like to use as a jumping off point for advice.
Measurements of the space will also help, and make sure you bring some photographs of the room as galleries like Curious Duke can superimpose art pieces onto the walls to show what it will look like without you having to take it home.
That said, most will let you try it in the space for a couple of days before you commit.
Stick to a budget, but keep your options open
Pricing is always going to be a huge factor when buying art, but Eleni says that a small budget doesn’t limit your options as much as you might think.
“People often think they have to go to Ikea because they can’t afford original works but there are so many different financing schemes and payment plans that make it much more accessible.”
Own Art is an Arts Council England funded scheme that funds interest-free loans of up to £25,000. You can take the piece home straight away, add multiple artworks and framing to the loan and split repayments evenly over 10 months.
Lots of galleries will also set up payment plans, so it’s worth asking about your options if you fall in love with a piece that seems a little out of reach.
Discovered the perfect piece only to find it’s too big/small for the space? Or the background colour is a little off? Think about commissioning the artist to create something similar that works better in your space.
Eleni says most artists welcome private commissions if a piece isn’t quite right for the room. You just have to ask the question. “Apartments in London are all different shapes and sizes so it’s rare to find something completely perfect,” she says.
Have it framed professionally
If you’re spending big on a piece of original art, don’t scrimp on the finishing touches.
A professional framer will be able to guide you on what style of frame will best suit your piece and handle it correctly so it can be preserved forever – a DIY job can lead to dust particles trapped in the frame or paper sticking to the glass.
“We get people bringing in pieces that they’ve tried to frame themselves and it’s carnage,” Eleni warns.
“If I were spending a lot on a piece, I would definitely leave the framing to a professional.”