How to buy art that brings you joy: 6 tips from an avid art collector
1ST SEPTEMBER 2023
If art gives you the shivers (in a good way), invest — because it's art that lifts our souls. Here's what I've learnt...
Buying art begins with your story: art that speaks volumes
Personally, I’ve found that buying art does have an ‘art’ to it so to speak. It’s not complicated but there are certainly some things I’ve learnt about choosing artwork over the years and the most important one is this: if you’re going to live with a painting, print or sculpture, it should absolutely bring you joy. How do you know if it will? Well here are some tips (and if you don’t have time to read them and just want some inspiration, you’ll find some of my favourite ever artwork in our Art & Prints department. Be warned: you might want it all!).
Find art that reflects your unique personality and style
For instance, my print by the glorious Margaret Calvert OBE absolutely showcases my values. Margaret designed the UK’s road signs and created a female version of ‘men at work’ for the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote. It reflects my entrepreneurial life as well as my feminist beliefs so it’ll stay with me for life. Glass Cathedrals have their own interpretation of this with a tiny woman sweeping up pink glitter. My neon ‘You are the tits’ print by Real Hackney Dave (AKA Dave Buonaguidi) — I mean, it just sums up my personality instantly. Or my colourful camel head made sustainably by Josh Gluckstein says a thousand words. Art is like a tattoo for me. It needs to mean something. Think how yours can help tell your story.
For art buying made simple, trust your instinct
It’s great to get inspiration and ideas for art to buy but really, your gut will tell you. You’ll know what sings to you. The piece you would absolutely sell a kidney for. And my best steer? As my family know all too well, don’t listen to the practicalities of those around you! If you love it, go for it. As the expert Norman Ackroyd RA told the Royal Academy, ask yourself this, “When it goes on the wall, can you live with it? Sometimes of course the question is 'Could you live without it?' — and if it’s a no, that’s when you really go for something.” Couldn’t agree more.
Empower your art buying: let go of guilt and buy what you love
I don’t feel guilty when I buy art because I know I won’t tire of it. I know it’s an investment and might increase in value (not that I am ever selling it!). It kind of feels the opposite of ‘throwaway’. For me, it’s what I would pass down to my son, Harry. I also believe in supporting artists — those with out-there ideas and the balls to try something new. I believe in the makers and I always will, so I’m happy my money helps them to do what they love. Plus it doesn't need to be expensive. You can frame anything you’re passionate about or that represents a memory for you — a favourite book, the (funny) stroppy postcard your son sent you from his school trip, vintage matchboxes, a stitched quote… Original prints are a good alternative too if you can’t stretch to original art.
Unleash your creativity with imaginative ideas for framing or displaying art
As a student, I got my frames where I got my annual meatballs fix. Yet as an adult, I love to explore more with colours and styles. I do think it’s worth getting pictures framed properly. Try our picture and photo frames or find a framer you trust. Also think where your art could go (beyond the wall). I have a friend who sits little railway people on her light switches to make them into mini installations and every time you open her bathroom door, a sensor is triggered so that the sound of birds plays to bring alive her parrot wallpaper. Have fun with it and surprise people. Art can be anything.
Feed your creative spirit…
Use artwork to preserve memories
My mum does a scrapbook, but she is from a different era. Personally, that would kill me off, but art… well, I still have the pieces I bought when I was living in a one bedroom flat. I can tell you about when and where I was. I can tell you what was happening in my life and how I was feeling. It’s a kind of diary of creativity for me. I love the stories behind artwork. It’s why I like customised art, too.
Dare to be different: embrace adventurous art buying and discover new artists
If you’re searching for something in a particular style, it’s worth exploring exciting, emerging artists rather than getting something you’re not so passionate about from someone better-known. Choose artwork you like rather than artwork that will ‘go with the room’ and be brave. That’s all there really is to it. So for art that brings you joy, choose something that sums you up, trust your instinct, don’t feel guilty about it, frame pieces imaginatively, use artwork to record your life and most of all, be adventurous and have fun. Isn’t that what art is for? Hmm, why does this make me want to go shopping…