When it comes to purchasing artwork for a home, owners and designers alike far too often approach it in the same way they approach buying the sofa, the chairs, the table and selecting the paint color. As these things are subservient to the overall design concept of the room, so they believe is the choice of artwork.
Amanda Still, director and interior designer, Hill Design + Gallery, rejects this approach. Instead, she advises her clients to become art “collectors,” not art “consumers.” According to Still, the fundamental difference is this: for an art “consumer,” artwork is an afterthought; for an art “collector,” artwork is unique, central, substantive, personally defining, individualistic, self-expressive.
“I want to focus on encouraging my clients to become art collectors rather than art consumers,” she said. “This means, thinking from an art collection standpoint, creating an interior that accommodates the fine art instead of having the space dictate purely decorative, mass produced pieces.”
Still says that art should not be viewed as just another matching accessory added to a room that will be changed when the sofa or paint color changes. For this reason, she counsels her clients that they should choose art that “makes a statement” about them and conveys beauty or pathos or power, since they will be living with it, looking at it and enjoying it for many years.
“Each art piece holds a meaning and message; every time they look at that piece it speaks to them, sometimes in new ways,” said Still.
She emphasizes that personal “connection,” not color coordination, matters most when it comes to choosing good artwork. Accent pieces that enhance the furnishings in a room are all wonderful and good, but remember that fine artwork is not an accent piece, even though it can definitely enhance a room. Fine artwork is a focal point, an anchor for the interior design that will follow.
“If you’re re-designing an existing space, that means the “color” of the art work is not always going to match your sofa if you’re picking a piece of artwork just for that purpose,” she said. “You’re kind of ignoring, in a way, the personal experience you could have with the piece. Reupholster the sofa if it does not harmonize with the artwork.”
Being an art “collector,” rather than an art “consumer” also has this financial advantage. Art collectors avoid the budget shortfall that art consumers often experience because they make their choice of art work an afterthought to the overall design concept of a room.
One of the main factors that inhibits people from approaching the whole matter as an art collector, Still said, is fear: they are intimidated by fine art, especially if they’re not art collectors.
“When it comes down to what you’re going to buy…it’s really about what you love and connect with personally.”
Many of us are art consumers for one or more of three reasons: purpose, price or expertise. We think the sole purpose of art is to match the color scheme in our rooms. We believe that buying this type of art is more economical than buying good art. And, we settle for color coordination as our highest standard for choosing art because it is, quite frankly, easier and non-threatening. Being an art consumer misses the point of art. It is not solely about color coordination, but about enjoyment, experience, expression, emotion in your home – that “love” and “personal connection” that truly good art communicates. So, become an art collector and reap the rich rewards, on a budget no less.