Monuments, 2016

4 Considerations When Choosing Art for Your Interior Design Clients

Interior designers regularly make decisions about wall decor in their designs. Sometimes the solution is a mirror or clock. Other times it’s the client’s photos or art collection. One of the most challenging situations comes when the client looks to their designer for guidance on purchasing and placing artwork for the room. Original artwork comes with its own problems and most designers are not art consultants!

Luckily, there are four things every designer should consider that will drastically decrease the time they spend running from gallery to gallery and increase the likelihood they end up with a happy client. Two of these rely on you talking with your client and two rely on your expertise.

1. Your Client’s Art Preference

If you ask most people what art movement they like best, you’ll get a blank stare. Instead, drop the interrogation and start a conversation. Ask what aspects of art they like by starting at the most general and working your way to specific. No art history degree required. Start with abstract vs. representational. If it’s abstract, follow up with energetic pictures with lots of movement vs. more calming pieces. Then simple vs. complex. If they lean towards representational, ask about the subject matter: landscapes, seascapes, scenes from history, etc. Then follow up with style and mood: more realistic or more of an interpretation of the subject.

From this conversation you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’re looking for. Let’s say it’s a coastal scene that’s calm but still has an energy to it and they don’t have a preference of it being realistic or interpretive. That’s a good start for criteria to use for searches and to filter out galleries and artists quickly.

2. Your Client’s Budget

Budget will determine whether you’re looking for an original painting, drawing, a limited edition print, or an open edition print. These options go from most expensive to least and most collectible to least. Any of these types of artwork can make wonderful additions to your design, but the first two are most likely to be treasures that are handed down for generations or serve as conversation pieces. Unlimited prints are the easiest to find online and there are plenty of companies that’ll print the picture you like on demand, but they’re also the most generic. Like everything there are trade offs.

If you’re committed to finding an original work for your client to add to their appreciation of your final design but are limited by budget, your best bet will be attending local art fairs or asking gallerists about works on paper by their artists.

3. Color: Your vision

Once you know your boundaries with regard to art preference and budget, you should consider color and your vision for the space. Art can be a great pop of color or a complement to the tone you’ve already created. This comes down to your expertise and taste. Make note of the impression and colors you’re looking for and don’t be afraid to ask artists for it. Some artists will take offense at the idea of limiting their creativity by the color of a couch. Professionals, however, embrace constraints and know that art never lives in a vacuum.

4. Size: Art Wants to be Seen

Art needs to be seen. If you can’t stand back and look at it, it’s like sitting in the front row of a movie theater. My neck hurts just thinking about it. You may have a large wall that would fit a large painting well, but if you can’t back up far enough to see it, you’re better off with multiple smaller pieces. Let that idea guide your judgement. There are no set rules for how much room a picture of a certain size needs.

With those four things checked off you now know what you’re looking for and what your client wants. You will find the perfect piece in less time. No more wandering through gallery row hour after hour. And, best of all you get a happy client!