We’ve reached the final installment of our series with UGallery, and we’re feeling like total art professionals. You see, when it comes to art, UGallery has been our saving grace. Over the past few weeks, Co-Founder and Gallery Director Alex Farkas has taught us basically everything we need to know. We’re well versed in the trends of 2015 (it’s time to bare all and turquoise is IT for spring) and we’ve gone back to basics (what’s the difference between a poster and a limited edition print?). Every step of the way, Alex has gladly offered up his insider tips and helped boost our confidence in starting an art collection. (And with UGallery, it’s easier than ever. With over 100 new pieces added to their site each week, you’re sure to find the artwork you just can’t live without.) But, what happens once you actually OWN the art? Once again, things can feel intimidating – and Alex is here to help! Today, he schools us in “Art Styling 101.”
Okay. You’ve made the big purchase. Now what?
First, congratulations on your stunning new artwork! If you haven’t already, make sure to ask the gallery for a receipt, a certificate of authenticity, and any additional information they can share about the piece and the artist. The receipt and certificate will be useful if you ever need to insure or resell the work. Knowing more about the piece and the artist will strengthen your connection with the art and help you tell guests all about your find.
When it comes to display, I rely on a few simple standards. For starters, it’s much easier hanging artwork with someone to help you. Recruit your sweetheart or a friend to be your assistant. Next, I like to consider all of the possibilities before picking a location. Carry the art from room to room and take turns with your handy assistant holding the art up on available walls. When doing this, I stand back and look to see if the art fits proportionally to the wall, room, and surrounding furniture and decor. The piece should have space around it to breath but not be dwarfed by a huge wall or cramped in a small area, and the furniture in proximity should be roughly the same size. I also pay attention to whether the colors of the room complement the piece (and vice versa), and if the mood of the work fits the room. For example, an energetic abstract may look exciting in the living room but disruptive in the bedroom.
Finally, I check to see if the art will receive enough light in the space. You want to make sure the artwork receives enough light to “shine,” but be careful not to hang the piece where it will receive prolonged direct sunlight, which can cause fading.
You’re a pro! What are your favorite “tricks of the trade” when it comes to displaying artwork?
Clients most frequently ask me about determining the proper height for art and the easiest way to figure out where to put the screw in the wall. If you search the Internet for this topic, you will find almost as many opinions about optimal viewing height as about art itself. I say, it depends. It depends on the height of the walls in the room, the height of the furniture in the room, and the height of the viewer. I default to 60 inches from the floor to the center of the piece, but then I adjust according to these factors. If you have huge vaulted ceilings or tall furniture, raise the art. If you are 5’2”, lower the piece. The most important things are to not crowd the art with furniture or the ceiling, and for it to be at your viewing height.
Once you determine the height, measure from the floor to the center of the art, for example 65”. Then, turn the art around and measure from the center of the art up to the hanging wire, for example, 9”. Add the two numbers together, 65+9=74, and then put your screw in the wall at 74” from the floor. Your assistant will be very handy for positioning the art while you measure, and then handing you the drill and screw.
Do you have any favorite non-traditional ways to display artwork?
In the past few years, I’ve seen a lot of people leaning art instead of hanging it on the wall. I currently have a little painting of Venice propped up on my desk. I think it creates an intimate and traveled look. I also see decorators leaning pieces on bookshelves or simply hanging them from the shelves, which I really like.
And since we’re on the topic of height, I should mention that I like to hang my art high on the wall. It separates it from the other decor in the room and gives it somewhat of an elevated status. When you enter the room, the art is the first thing you notice.
Do you have any tips for the perfect gallery wall?
Pick the strongest piece in the collection to be the focal point of the gallery wall and then build around it. Also, pay attention to spacing. You don’t have to make each piece equidistant, but look for areas with trapped space–a large section of blank wall bordered on all sides by art–and pinched space–places where the art gets too close together and feels cramped.
I compose gallery walls by laying the art on the floor underneath the wall where I intend to hang the pieces. I move the pieces around until I find a balanced arrangement. Then, I start by hanging the middle piece (in the middle of the wall).
Do you need a different approach for different rooms in the house? (i.e. bedroom vs. living room)
The only rooms where I vary my methods are the bathroom and the kitchen. These rooms present certain perils for art – steam, splatters, and grease, to name a few – so I pay attention to which pieces I hang and how I hang them.
Generally, I use limited edition prints in inexpensive frames for these spaces. Ikea carries excellent, low-cost frames, and then I visit a local frame shop to have a custom matte cut to match the piece and the frame. When the frame yellows or the print wrinkles, I start fresh and pick new art!
Smart! Okay, say you’ve fallen in love with a pretty powerful or colorful piece, how do you decorate around it?
This is probably a question of personal taste, but I prefer simplicity in home furnishing to accentuate art, especially for “strong” pieces. I like white or light walls and simple floor coverings. I’m drawn to furniture with clean lines and tidy surfaces with limited decoration. If you’re leaning toward powerful art, let the art be the focal point of the room.
Finally, what are your TOP TIPS for Art Styling 101?
- Work to match your art with the scale and mood of the room.
- Ensure your art receives enough light to bring out the true colors.
- Take into account the height of the room, the furniture, and your height when hanging art.
- For a contemporary look, consider leaning art on tables, desks, and bookshelves.
- When arranging a gallery wall, place the strongest piece at the center and pay attention to the spacing between pieces.
- Decorate bathroom and kitchen spaces with less precious art.
- Use simple decor to accentuate art and make it the focal point of the room.
Header image provided by Ally Noriega of Allyson in Wonderland.