I am planning on running a short feature this week. "On our walls" will focus on different things I display in our house. This started because I wanted to run a post on the new photo gallery wall I made in a hallway, but I realized I had so much to say about the how and why for this gallery wall that it could easily expand into a week of posts. I'll be talking about buying and making art, recognizing and creating "themes" and of course, hanging photos.
So today, to kick things off, I'd like to talk about the art I buy for our space.
Interestingly, with the exception of one card that I have framed, there is nothing on our walls that I bought in real life. (It's the card above and I bought it the summer before Paul and I moved in together. It was the first thing I knew would hang on our walls. Five years later, the $3 card is still up.) I purchase art exclusively online. Here are some of the things I consider before I click add to cart and checkout.
waiting for a frame - a new 18x24 print from ugmonk.
1. Is it easy to frame? Framing non-traditional sized art can get ridiculous. Often, before I purchase something, I'll run a google (or amazon) search for frames that are the dimensions of the print or piece to see if something is easily available. I tend to stick to things that are smaller than 11x14 so I can drop them into a frame or have a mat made. (This is a great video that talks about having custom mats made.) If something is bigger than 11x14, I look for standard sizes like 16x20 or 18x24. Ikea sells "odd" sized frames, so sometimes one of them can work. But really, if it's going to be a pain to frame, I have to more than love it to push buy.
a print I knew would be fun in our kitchen from wallblank.
2. Do I know where it will hang? Oddly enough, I don't buy art to fill spaces. Usually, if I have a large wall or area that needs "something" I'll make it myself. This keeps me from hunting online for something to fill a wall and potentially just buying because it works. Instead of looking for the art, I let the art find me. If it's awesome, I consider what room it will go in and how it will match with what we already have before I buy. The best part about moving every 1-2 years, is that I know eventually everything will change and I can move art into different rooms and create new combinations.
graphic sunglass art from bkny.
3. Does it fit our style? After five years of decorating our place, I have a decent idea of the "style" I like. And for better or worse, I've passed it on to Paul. For my own house, I like simple, graphic pieces. I love text. I don't usually like browns or red. I usually don't like animals or landscapes (unless it's palm trees). I generally don't like pieces with too many colors. That all sounds so random, but I have found it really helps to have a clear understanding of my YAYs and NAYs. There is a huge difference between what I can admire from afar and what I can live with in my house.
a funny letterpress card that's framed in our kitchen from sapling press.
4. Can I think of two reasons why it works for us? I can look at almost anything I've bought and see two reasons why I love it. Maybe it's that it's black and white (a huge fave) and it's got California (we're akwardly obsessed) on it. Or maybe it's that it has a great message AND it is something I hadn't seen before. It sometimes seems like half the stuff we buy is an inside joke between the two of us and I love that.
5. What's the price? I don't think you have to spend a lot of money to fill your house with fantastic art. (You can, though, for sure!) 99% of what we have hanging up are prints. Some are digital prints, some are screenprints. I have bought a few pieces through 20x200.com over the past few years and I love that they host such a wide variety of artists and offer limited editions. I have had some great luck finding prints of all sizes and styles on Etsy. Our most expensive piece of art is a small $100 original painting from Kal Barteski I bought in 2008. It was one of those gut reactions, do not pass go, just click buy, and I am so glad we did. The majority of our art is in the $25-$50 range though. One thing that I like about shopping online is that you can often buy directly from the artist which means more cash goes into their pocket instead of to a middleman.
the perfect 5x7 print when my one little word was "magic" and I was struggling with Paul's deployment from kate miss. (sadly, I do not think this print is still available).
6. Do I want to buy it right now? Some stuff I see online and think, "oh, cool." I'll email myself a link or if I'm on my iPad take a screenshot to find it later. Or I'll pin it if the site is Pinterest friendly. Other stuff I see online and think, "OH! COOL!" and immediately shout to Paul to come look or email him a link. I drop it in my cart and make plans to purchase if he likes it too. I have learned that the pieces that cause me to instantly act are the ones that I should be buying. Yes, it's impulse buying, but the stuff that you choose to hang in your space should be personal and sometimes that means impulsive. What's your gut reaction? You're either going to like it, love it, hate it or be indifferent to it. If you're indifferent or like it, you'll never love it. If you hate it, you might someday love it. But if you LOVE it - go for it.