Upgrading Your Home Through Budget-Friendly Art (+ Places We Love to Shop)
Art is such an interesting thing to invest in. You may never know if your piece will offer you a return on your financial investment – but it is something that you will enjoy in your home on a daily basis. Some of my favorite pieces of art are items I found at antique shops or even hidden away in our old house. Regardless of cost – the payoff can be great when you find a piece you truly love.
Getting Started with Budget Friendly Art
The most important thing to remember when you are starting to collect artwork is that ‘art’ can really mean anything. I’ve decorated my house with a bunch of prints and maps that I found in the attic of our house - so anything is really up for grabs. I like to collect nautical and seascapes in quirky frames when I’m out antiquing (I like to get ones that are already framed to avoid the hassle and expense of getting frames for them).
There are so many ways to start collecting – but it’s also really important to take your time. Picking up pieces over time – as you go to a gallery show, boutique, or see something online that you love – will give you the best result. We moved into our current home about a year ago, and we’ve been taking our time to hang art. I have always found that if you try to rush collecting and decorating all in one go it can look very forced. Instead, I’ve been slowly picking up pieces and looking through our collection to figure out what works best in different spaces and what complements how we spend time in each different ‘zone’ in the house.
These days, I’ve also given particular thought as to what art is visible during zoom meetings. I love how your background can tell a little something about you through your art and decor choices. Lately, I’ve found that a beautiful graphic print or boldly colored landscapes make the biggest impact and can really brighten your day of back to back zoom calls.
Use a Personal Approach
This might sound odd, but I don’t love having too much stuff on the walls. I like things to look fairly calm and not too cluttered, so I favor simple, personal choices whenever possible. I like to display a mix of items we have picked up while traveling or have purchased from friends. That way, I have a personal connection to the piece and know the story behind it. Choosing art this way also has the added benefit of being nostalgic – it can help you to remember a special vacation or a place you loved – which we could all use right now.
Working with Galleries
Art fairs can be a great way to meet the gallerists and sometimes the artists and hear more about the pieces and the inspiration behind them. The art fairs in Miami and events like Frieze in NY and LA can be amazing places to see the most prominent new art in the world. You may be surprised at the range of prices at these events – some things are accessible so don’t be afraid to ask for the price sheet! I asked good friend and gallery owner, Amy Adams of Adams and Ollman, for her best advice for starting an art collection:
“I suggest developing a close working relationship with a gallery that can help you identify and articulate your interests, arrange studio visits and navigate the financial piece of collecting. At my gallery, we work with clients who support our roster of artists, but we also introduce them to artists from the programs of other galleries and advise on secondary market sales. Many people have walked through our door and made their first purchase; we work with them over the long-term to pursue their interests and develop important collections that have intellectual and market staying power.” – Amy Adams, Adams and Ollman
Knowing When to Splurge
She also had this to say about when to splurge: “I always recommend buying the most significant example of an artist's work that you can afford. It might be a stretch, but one can always ask the gallery about flexible payment options. I've never heard someone say they wished they hadn't purchased something, but have heard many, many regrets....” – Amy Adams, Adams and Ollman
Trust me, galleries do want to sell things, and if you aren’t familiar with the artist (let’s face it - most of us aren’t!) it’s difficult to judge the price on an artwork’s appearance alone. If you want to purchase from a well known artist, look for prints in larger editions, which can be much more affordable than a one-of-a-kind piece.
Artsy is a fantastic site for researching and purchasing contemporary art from the best galleries. They also organize the artwork by helpful groupings like the MacArthur Genius Grant Winners, trending artists, or different categories of work you may be interested in exploring. Personally, I’m saving up for a print by Nicole Eisenman.
On Hanging Your Art
Once you’ve collected some pieces you love, how you hang your art is very important to showing it off! I’ve had a slew of odd jobs in my life, including a stint as a gallery installer (it’s funny if you know me because I am probably the last person to be trusted with power tools and a ladder!). However, this job taught me the biggest tip – to always hang art at eye level (and that’s eye level for someone like me - clocking in at 5’3”). A common mistake people make is hanging art too high. The ideal wall placement is placing the center of your artwork around 57-60” from the floor.
Where to Find Budget-Friendly Art
4. Picture Room
5. Shop Scad - Located in Savannah, all the art is created by students and professors.The gallerist is willing to do a facetime appointment to walk you through the current collection.
6. Wrong Gallery - When traveling to Marfa I discovered this gallery and fell in love. There is amazing art in a variety of mediums.
7. Any antique shop! Remember, almost anything can count as art when you put it on your wall!
8. Reach out to an artist you follow on Instagram and ask about commissions.