Art makes for a classic holiday gift, but getting it right requires a little thought on the part of the giver. This season, I’m sharing a few art-buying tips based on years of experience buying art for friends and family.
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Know your audience
My mom loves patterned prints and color-block paintings, so my parent’s house is filled with Paul Klee, Marc Rothko, and Henri Matisse (reproductions, of course). When I buy art for them, I look for pieces from local or emerging artists who have a similar style. Something child-like and fantastic, like Lidia Sineonova’s “Something to Talk About” or modern and messy, like Chris Pemberton’s “Derision Within.”
Know your space
I once had a friend who moved into a beautiful new apartment with a big blank wall in the living room. The space was too big for one piece, even a large one, so we decided to plan a salon-style gallery wall there instead. As a gift, I bought her three bold, graphic prints to use in the gallery. The size and number of pieces helped break up the monotony of the wall, and the bold, graphic prints gave the room an extra pop of design and color. Choose something striking and illustrative, like Cassidy Marietta’s “Tesselate” or Christopher MacEwan’s “Tri-O.”
Know your distance
If you’re shipping, light works that can be flat-packed (i.e. sandwiched between two pieces of rigid cardboard) are your best bet for keeping the cost down. Look for photographs, prints, drawings, and watercolors. Anything on paper, like Cynthia Sears’ drawing “Marilyn” or Kira Balan’s watercolor painting “Family Penguin Art,” can be flat-packed and shipped cheaply.
Know your framing
Professional framing gets expensive quickly, especially if you have a large piece on your hands. Look for smaller pieces or ones that might fit in a pre-made store frame. (Don’t go for the cheapest option at a place like Michaels or Hobby Lobby. It’ll fall apart on you.) Steve Jebbet’s “Gone Fishin'” (16″ X 20″) or Taylor Coker’s “JM” (9″ X 12″) are both standard size, flat, and not too large. Perfect for a for a nice store-bought frame.
If you have an irregularly sized piece, chances are it can be professionally matted on the cheap to fit a standard size. Then you can pop it right into the frame. If you buy a painting, look for what’s known as gallery wrap canvas. It measures at least one inch in depth and doesn’t need a frame.