Buying art: the biggest mistakes to avoid.


Buying art seems like it should be fairly simple - you see something, you like it, you buy it. Bam! But pretty much 99% of places I walk into; be it a home, a waiting room or a hotel lobby - have made a huge mistake with the artwork they've purchased. And it breaks my heart! Because they've gone to all the trouble of buying an artwork, and making that artists day, and have failed to execute properly. So, here are my tips on what to avoid when buying art. Hopefully they can help you make some excellent art purchases!


1. Don't just buy artwork in 'any size'.

You're at a market - and you see a giant canvas covered in glorious paint depicting a mermaid unicorn with a rainbow cat -- *GASP* -- you simply must have it! Understandable. I know this feeling. When you see an artwork for the first time and it just hits you right in the good spot. So you buy the piece (okay, you can't really afford this right now, but you can live off Mi Goreng for a few weeks) and get it back home. You're so excited that you've bought it, and you're enthusiastically running around the house looking for the hammer and nails to stick it up. Now, where will you hang it? Oh... it won't fit above the telly. Sits a bit too close to the ceiling. I know - that big spot in the hallway! Except... you can't really view it from far enough away to see it properly. Ugh. Okay, what about that wall in the kitchen? Sits waaaay too close to the sink for your liking... WHERE THE HELL AM I GOING TO PUT THIS? You're tired now, from carrying this big ass painting around the house for an hour. So you either: a) Bang in a nail above the telly and don't worry that it's way too cramped up there; or b) You put it in the garage til you can find the right place for it. Now - every time you see it, you feel a little pang of disappointment or guilt that it doesn't look as amazing as you'd hoped. And that initial joy you felt when you bought it has sizzled away and left a bitter after taste. Bummer. Huge bummer. And I see this ALL THE TIME. It disheartens people and puts them off buying art again. Not to mention that they feel like they didn't really get what they paid for. It was supposed to enrich the environment, and instead it looks clunky and awkward. So how do we avoid all this awfulness? Let's go back to the market. You see this painting and you love it and you simply must have it. But you think to yourself, hey now, this is probably too big for my place. And so you ask the friendly looking artist behind the table if she has any prints of this piece at a different size. If she says yes, hot dog we have a wiener! You can buy this as a print and get it in the perfect size to fit on your wall. If she says no, it doesn't come in prints - ask her if she'll do a commission piece for you, just like this one, but in a different size. And she'll say oh yes, that'll be this much and it will fit perfectly in your house!

Joy to the world! You now have a piece of artwork that you love, that fits on your wall and is the epitome of beauty that it can be. Well done, you! This same scenario also applies to pieces of art that are too small for a wall. Often I'll see a tiny little piece of artwork all alone smack bang in the middle of a giant wall - and it's just as awful as an artwork that's too big. The thing about a small piece of artwork is that the fix is a bit easier - you can put it in the hallway, or find another little nook around the house where it feels a bit more cozy. Or, you can pair it with a few other pieces of artwork and create a cluster of artwork on a larger wall. The important thing is to always fill the space just the right amount. A piece shouldn't be swimming or cramped. If you're having trouble judging this, you can hire a picture hanger or interior stylist to give you some advice.

2. Don't just put it in 'any frame'.

The amount of amazing artworks I've seen in disgusting frames haunts my dreams on a nightly basis. Why oh WHY would you buy a lovely piece of artwork and then chuck it in a piece of shit frame? It's like buying a diamond ring for your 500kg pet pig. Or buying a stunning ball gown to mud wrestle in. You're just ruining it. So, let's you and I put an end to that horridness, shall we?

There are two main reasons why people end up putting artwork in frames that don't match. One; they spend all their money on the artwork and can't afford a good frame. Two; they don't realise it clashes with the artwork. Both of these are easily fixed. If you blow all your budget on the artwork and can't afford a good frame, rather than wasting money on a crap frame - save up to buy a bloody decent frame down the track. This might mean not buying another artwork, and instead spending that money on bringing this one up to scratch. Alternatively, before you buy a piece of artwork, take the framing into account. If you can't squeeze it into your budget, then you may need to reconsider buying the artwork at all. Now, if you have trouble picking a frame to match your artwork - you're not alone. Having worked at a picture framer's for years, I've witnessed people from all walks of life who have no idea how to pick a frame. It's probably not a skill that most people have. Which is fine! That's why they were at the picture framer's in the first place, they needed help. Some people would come in and say can I please have that ostentatious gold frame for this piece? And I'd say, you certainly can, but shall we see what it looks like in the modern oak frame? Naturally, once people had a nudge in the right direction, they were able to find a framing option that brought their artwork to life, rather than drowned it in the creek. So if you find that you're just not great at matching a frame to your artwork, get advice. You'll find that if you ask the artist who sold you the artwork, they'd be more than happy to suggest something. Or even recommend a framer who's done work for them before. Again, asking a picture framer or interior stylist will probably get you the best outcome. But for those on a budget, if you have a friend who has a perfectly styled house, maybe ask them for a hand!

3. Don't buy 'fad' artworks.

When you invest in a piece of artwork, you want it to be something that lives in your house forever. Right? Well, I know I do. I'm never buying a piece of artwork and thinking I'm probably going to be sick of this in a year. And if that is what you're thinking - then you shouldn't buy that piece! Artwork can be expensive, and nobody wants to waste money on something they aren't going to love for a long time to come. So this really comes down to you having a bit of a think about why you're buying the artwork. Are you just buying this painting because it features a character from Game of Thrones? And you're super into the show right now? Think about if you're still gonna love it in five years after staring at every single day between now and then. If the answer is yes, then buy that piece right away. If the answer is no, then maybe save the GoT theme for your next phone cover.

4. Not picking a theme.

When purchasing artwork, I think it's important to adhere to a particular theme. Trust me - when you walk into a room and there's no theme - you can tell. The vibe is just off. Rather than being a space you're excited to be in, it'll look a little weird and uncomfortable. Maybe you've got a room in your house like this? Usually if you're not fully in love with a room, it's because there's no theme. When I use the term 'theme' I don't necessarily mean like nautical or Moroccan nights. Not that there's anything wrong with those. But really the theme can mean anything, as long as you're thoughtful and consistent about what you're buying. After all, you want the artwork to not only look good on it's own, but you want it to be easy to match the couch cushions or the table dressings or the cutlery to it as well. Tying the whole space together into one big present to yourself. A few themes that work well are: colours - pick a colour palette and stick to it. Artist - pick an artist you like and collect their works. Style - like pop, illustration, charcoal sketches, contemporary etc. Subject matter - maybe all your artworks will have a floral theme, or be landscapes, or portraits. This is important when you're buying more than one artwork, even if it's years a part, or buying other items in the room to match it.

And that's about it! Those are the biggest mistakes to avoid, so hopefully when you're buying your next piece of artwork - these can guide your decision making process. Anyone else got any tips on buying artwork?


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