Last week I blogged about how the French have art in their homes and the Brits do not!
So this week’s blog is going to rectify the situation and give you confidence enough to go and buy some great art.
Remember, always look online for artists in your area first, then visit their studio. It's a great way to find out what you like without pressure. If you can't find an artist you like, in your area, the next plan is to visit a small gallery (nothing too intimidating) or go to an art fair. Again, you'll find something online, have a good look round the website first before you go. It will really help.
Once you've gone to the studio/artfair or gallery- here's my top ten rules to help you select art. You should really enjoy the process of buying yourself some gorgeous new art.
The absolute rule number one is - Only by art if you love it! You might have to compromise with your husband/wife or you might have to think a bit carefully about how much you love it but broadly speaking if you love the art you can't go far wrong.
Rule number two- Think about where it's going to go. You might have a plan when you walk into a gallery or an art fair that you're looking for a piece of work for the lounge. This is quite a good strategy if you're not sure what you're doing. As you can start to visualise where the work of art might go. However if you love something, even if it won't go in the room you planned, that’s still the best reason to buy.
Rule number three - Size matters! Broadly speaking it doesn't really matter if you have a large piece or a series of small pieces to start your collection. But if you have, for instance, wall lights in your home you might find that large artwork doesn't fit in the room in quite the same way you had planned. Having a maximum size is a good idea. If you don't want to pay for shipping or delivery having a clear idea of the largest painting that will fit in your car is a good plan too! Very often artists will be able to arrange shipping for you if you are buying a very large piece that simply won't fit in the car.
Rule number four - Colour. I think this can be an automatic. You might decide that a series of blues and yellows will fit in well in your home, but if you fall in love with the landscape with a load of red poppies in the foreground it will still work. Besides, your natural liking for a colour palette will come through anyway- you're going to be back with rule number one quite frankly!
Rule number five - Have a budget and stick to it. Again it really doesn't matter how much money you spend provided you spend what you can afford. People seem to think the art world is about tens of thousands of pounds or even millions of pounds. At most of the art fairs I attend, the starting price for an original work of art is £45! That will be quite a small painting, but it's original and it's unique and it's a great place to start. Broadly speaking at a lot of the art fairs I go to you could get a medium-sized work of art (less than 1 m²) for around £400 depending on the medium. Obviously some artists are more. But the point is you can walk away with stunning work for only few hundred pounds if you want to. That's really impressive actually.
Think about it; you might have spent over £10,000 redecorating your kitchen why finish it off with a cheap little print for 20 quid from B&Q when you can have original artwork for just a couple of hundred quid.
Rule number six- Try not to worry about investment. You might get lucky, you might find a new emerging artist, buy their work for only a couple of hundred pounds, and then in two years time discover that their work is going for 10 times the price! It really might happen. Lots of successful artists at very least find their prices going up after only a few years into their career. However when you're buying work for less than £1000 try not to worry about what it will be worth in a few years time. Just make sure that you're going to love it in your own home that will be enough.
Rule number seven - Quality. Quality is really key for you to carry on enjoying your art. Feel free to ask the artist anything about the quality of the materials they use. Find out about pigments, ask them about colourfastness. Okay so you might be able to hang a £300 work of art in 500 years time but you certainly don't want the colour to fade in less than 10 years.
Room number eight - Negotiate! Some artists will not negotiate at all. Some High Street galleries will not negotiate at all. Don't be offended if people say “The price is the price please don't ask for a discount”. However if you buy more than one work of art you may well find that artists have a little bit of wriggle room and might give you say a 10% discount because you're buying more than one piece. The worst they can do is say no, if they do say no please don't be offended smile sweetly and say “It was worth a try”!
Rule number nine - Look after your art! Recently I sold a very large piece to a couple and they said “Is it true I can’t hang this over a radiator?”
Well here's the deal; in my kitchen I have a very large oil painting of Stonehenge and it hangs directly over radiator, it's opposite the oven, it gets steam and heat and cold and sunshine on it the whole time. Six years of being in the spot and it still looks like new! However if I had a work of art that I've spent a lot of money on, or if I had an old work of art that might be a little more fragile I would not dream of putting it over a radiator- as a rule of thumb you have to be careful with extremes of heat. But broadly speaking new art, on sturdy canvas frames, painted in oil or acrylic, can take quite a beating in terms of conditions! I even have an oil painting in my bathroom! However watercolours are significantly more fragile and definitely not be placed in a steamy room. Also be very careful about direct sunlight. Okay in our climate we’re not exactly living in Greece, the sun really isn't so strong and it doesn't shine for that much of the year , but sun will fade out paint incredibly rapidly if given the chance. Just think about the fading on your curtains or fabrics in a sunny room - that’s what might happen to your painting so do be careful. If in any doubt at all ask the artist. And if you move the artwork to a new room, still feel free to email your artist years after you've bought it they will be happy to help - honestly we really will.
Room number ten- Don’t be scared of being a numpty! I think the single biggest reason people don't buy art directly from artist is that they are frightened of looking like an idiot! You are not an idiot! It's your money and it is your house and it's up to you how you decorate it. Tell the artist what you're looking for maybe even tell them what work of theirs you like and what else you might like to have. Artists will be helpful to you at art fairs. I've even recommended other artists to potential clients because I knew exactly what they wanted from their description and I knew where they needed to go to find it. Gallery owners will do the same, they will try to match you up with the kind of art that you want, that's part of what you're paying for, don't be bullied and don't worry- it's your money and your house, buy what you love!
My next art fair is Reading art fair 22-24 April. There are over 100 artists there, there is a huge range at very reasonable prices. Message me if you’d like Private view tickets or 2 for 1 tickets over the weekend. www.readingcontemporaryartfair.co.uk