A Guide to Collecting + Displaying Art

Framed Wall Art Collection

ART IS ESSENTIAL

London based interior designer, Brian Woulfe, wrote an article for the Independent titled, The Value of Art in the Home. In it, he says, “For me, a home is incomplete without the presence of art… From showcasing your identity to enlivening the spirits of your guests, art provides value in myriad unexpected ways.”

Jillian Hendricks, Lead Interior Designer at McCoy Homes in Chattanooga echos Woulfe, saying, “I tend to think of adding artwork – a painting, a sculpture or some found object – to a space, in the same way that I think of adding a hat or a piece of jewelry to an outfit. Art is the finishing touch. While not necessary for function, without it, the space is incomplete.”

Amanda Reynal for Derring Hall

So, there you have it, interior designers from London to Chattanooga, Tennessee, are of like mind: a home without art is incomplete. That said, if I were a betting woman, I’d bet you five dollars that those same interior designers would also tell you that selecting and displaying art is not uncomplicated!  (Double negatives for emphasis. Sincere apologies to the editors!)

As designers and decorating professionals, alike, find the selection and display of artwork a difficult assignment, it stands to reason that a homeowner would have trouble, as well. Because we love you and we want your life to be easy and beautiful (it’s true!), we have put together a little How-To Guide. Broken out into two parts: collecting art and displaying art. Our guide is meant to provide… guidance (duh?) as you amass and make plans to showcase art. With our help, we hope you’ll collect and display your artwork with confidence. 

Amand Reynal for Derring Hall

BRING ON THE BEAUTY | PART ONE: ART COLLECTING 101

HOW TO COLLECT ART FOR YOUR HOME

No matter where you are in the art collection process – how much or how little art you’ve collected, whether it was found or commissioned, whether you perceive it as “valuable” or “worthless” – there are a few important things you should try to remember.

  • START YOUR PERSONAL ART COLLECTION

I know what most of you are thinking, “Art collection? Haha! I don’t have an art collection. I have a few prints from HomeGoods and a weird finger painting that my daughter brought home from Vacation Bible School!”  And, to that, I would say, “Well… honey, that’s the beginning of your collection.” Store it carefully, and build on it.

  • BUILD YOUR ART COLLECTION

But How? Where should I go? Who should I talk to? What if I get ripped off? The galleries are so white and the gallerists are so quiet – it’s unnerving. I sneezed once and the gallerist – the willowy one with low hemoglobin – actually scowled!

First, you’re cooler than you think you are! Artists and Gallerists get a bad (read: hoity) rap. Sometimes its deserved, but most times, it’s not. Like you, they’re just people trying to eke out a living and get home to their loved ones. The thing that separates you from them is their knowledge and their passion for their craft (not unlike that which separates you from your car mechanic, if you think about it!). Don’t make the mistake of misreading their passion as snobbery. The artists and the gallerists that I know LOVE to talk about art and will happily share their secrets to those who demonstrate a genuine interest. 

In Chattanooga, there are several really great galleries curated and attended by some really great people. If you have a lot to learn, they have a lot to teach. Here’s a list of some of our favorites:

Gallery 1401

Works | A Gallery

In-Town Gallery

Shuptrines Gallery

River Gallery

Hart Gallery

Tanner Hill Gallery

LP Cline Gallery

For a good – humanizing – laugh, read Roger Smith’s Guide to Being an Art Snob. If you feel the need, you could use it to arm yourself before heading into one of these local art spots.

Ok! I know that there are still those of you who will forever be intimidated by the idea of entering the art world through a gallery. So, to you, I’d suggest a festival! An art festival is a really fun way to experience a variety of styles, mediums and artists in a super relaxed atmosphere. Chattanooga’s 4 Bridges Arts Festival runs from Friday, April 12 through Sunday, April 14. It would be a great introduction to your local art scene!  

Another couple of suggestions for building up your art collection: 

For now, think of art as an acquisition – not an investment. Relieve yourself of the pressure to make a “smart” purchase and simply purchase that which you like. 

Don’t worry about whether it will “go” with the rest of your decor. It’s ok if a piece of art stands on its own. Besides, chances are, as you build your collection, your personal style will make its self evident and – after some time – you’ll start to notice similarities from one piece to the next. 

  • COLLECT ART PERSONALLY 

Karen’s opinion on your most recent acquisition does not matter. At all. Really, it doesn’t!  Art is art if you say it is art. Period. And, unless you’re an investor, its monetary value is irrelevant. That it’s a tired and annoyingly overused maxim, doesn’t make it any less true! Beauty (read: worth) is – very definitely – in the eye of the beholder. Be it a painting made by your toddler, a hat your grandfather wore out, an old concert poster or a commissioned landscape – if you believe it to be art, then it is art. Further, if seeing it brings you joy (we’re channeling our inner Kondo here), then you should create opportunities to encounter it regularly. 

  • ART DOESN’T HAVE TO BREAK THE BANK 

Good art doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Contrary to popular belief, developing a personal art collection and creatively displaying that collection is NOT a pursuit limited solely to the wealthy. Plenty of un-wealthy people collect and display art. They just don’t use uppity words to describe what they do. The first men scratched art into the walls of their caves, long before the first pennies were ever struck. A more modern example: mothers curate fantastic art collections on refrigerator fronts for little more than the cost of a magnet.  

  • BUY THE ART THAT YOU LIKE RIGHT NOW

Your tastes will evolve, therefore you will never be “done”. Accepting artwork as impermanent will free you from the pressure of making the “wrong” decision. You’re going to broaden your world view as you travel. You’re going to grow as you experience new things. You’re going to expect different things as you increase your wealth. You’re going to change, and so are the things that interest you. Maybe there will be space for the art of your thirties when you reach your fifties. Maybe there won’t be. Either way, it’s fine. If you truly enjoy a thing, time with it is never wasted, neither is the money spent on it. 

No, I’m not advocating for frivolous spending. Rarely should art ever be an impulse buy. It should be carefully and thoughtfully considered. My hope though, is that you’ll free yourself from the pressure that comes from looking into the future and asking “What if I out grow this?”. 

Amanda Reynal for Derring Hall

If you enjoyed PART ONE of McCoy Homes’ BRING ON THE BEAUTY  |  A Guide to Collecting + Displaying Art, then be sure to check back next month! We’ll post PART TWO:  The Dos and Don’ts of Art Display.

And, of course, if you’re interested in building a new, custom home  in which you’ll want to hang all of your newly collected art, then shoot us an EMAIL or give us a CALL today. We’d be honored to work with you!