A Shocking Way to Get the Art You Want

This post is written by my design associate Irene Hill:

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In my previous life as a designer, I specialized in selecting and supplying artwork for residential, commercial and developmental applications. Basically, anyone who needed art for a space and didn’t have the budget or inclination to start a personal investment fine-art gallery.

Probably like you and me.

Most of us live in homes where we need and want art to fill empty walls and inject colour, warmth, interest and texture. And, maybe most important of all, to inject our personality into our spaces.

Art, in my opinion, is the best way to reflect who we are and what we love into our homes. Art isn’t restricted to framed prints or photographs – it can include three-dimensional objects as well as the relatively new generation of decals, available in an amazing variety of shapes and colours.

The whole conversation around personal artwork is so big I’ll be writing ongoing posts about it and giving you my best tips and ideas. I’ll let you in on the secrets of framing and how to get the most for your money. That’s because I’m Dutch and generous. I completely live up to the stereotypical Dutch trait of frugality, but my inherent generous nature compels me to give away all the insider secrets that let me be frugal but look luxurious.

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And now you’re going to benefit from those two traits!

Here’s my first tip. It’s easy to look at buying art with three criteria

  1. You have to love it.
  2. It has to have the right colours for your space.
  3. It has to be the right size. Sort of.

And here’s where my first tip comes in. The first two criteria are kind of non-negotiable. You do have to love it or why bother and it needs to have some colour relationship to the space in order to achieve harmony. But the third criterion has some flexibility.

Because if you fulfill the first two criteria you can fudge the third. If the art you love is too small, there are ways to fill up the space. And if the art you love is too big…

Okay, if you’re easily horrified, please sit down. Because my answer to this comes in the form of a confession.

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If the art you love is too big, you can crop it. That means cut it down to the size you need. I know that the prints I’ve purchased for clients have been painted by incredibly hard-working and talented artists who poured their heart and soul into their work. And then I’ve cut it up to hang in someone’s house, restaurant or lobby.

And while it may seem awful, I’ve done it. Because there are two ways to look at art. The first is you love the piece for what it is and live with the size. The second is you have a space to fill and you craft the perfect, custom-fit piece of art. To hang over your headboard (the long, narrow size is sometimes hard to find art for) or above your fireplace or some space that needs an unusual size.

What do you think? Does the concept of looking at art prints in order to cut them up to satisfy your space horrify you? Or do you think it perfectly reasonable?

Related posts:

Cheap, Yet Happy Wall Art

Cheap Placeholder Art (plus my dining chairs are done)

Baskets & Poodles

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours: It’s All in the Undertones to learn how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.

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  1. I agree with most people here–cropping a piece to fit the space is OK for a reproduction, but not for an original. Vintage and antique prints should be left whole. Change the frame, the matting, but respect the original. Take a copy photo of the original or make a high quality scan and a digital print at a specialty printer, and alter that.

    Even found art from the thrift store deserves respect, and you never know, that unappreciated piece might be something valuable. Seen it many times on Antiques Roadshow. If you must alter or restore a piece, do as little as possible to preserve it, use acid free materials, and consult a professional. At the very least, add a barrier layer that can be removed to separate overpainting from the original. If at all possible, ask the artist to make the alterations/repairs if you must.

    Besides, you might move or change your decor and then the piece is permanently mutilated.