Handle with Care: A step-by-step guide to selecting and caring for art
You know you want a new piece of artwork for your space, but you’re looking for just the piece. Where do you even begin? Whether you just moved into a new space and need to fill your bare walls or you’re seeking the ideal piece for a carefully curated room to tie everything together, the perfect work for your room is out there. By taking a step-by-step approach, you can source a piece that is everything you need and want, then care for it to make sure your investment stays looking as vibrant as the day you first hung it.
First: Sizing Your Space
The first thing you’ll need to do is measure your space to determine the size of artwork (or artworks) it can accommodate. You don’t want to overwhelm a small space with a larger-than-life artwork or, alternatively, select something you like that is too small for the space you have.
Depending on the dimensions of your space and your goals, you have a few options to consider. You could select a single, bold, large-format statement piece that commands attention both in composition and in proportions. You could also use sets of related art pieces (pairs look very pleasing and balanced, but sets of three or four can also be effective and attractive) for a different effect, which can help break up a large space into more manageable pieces.
A third option is a gallery wall, which can consist of different pieces of varying sizes, arranged in a pleasing way. A gallery wall is a classic way to showcase many different pieces at once, but it can come across cluttered and distracting if not done carefully. Unless you’re confident in your ability to select and arrange different pieces, we recommend choosing a single statement piece or a set of related pieces to bring a cohesive element to your space.
Second: Selecting Your Art
This is the fun part! Don’t be intimidated. You may be thinking, “How can I possibly choose?” We’d like to offer some guidance that can help you narrow the field to works that suit you and your space, but remember to trust your instincts. If you’re drawn to a piece, then go with it!
First, what speaks to you? What draws you in? What do you connect with? It’s perfectly okay not to know all the answers right now. Take some time to browse some art -- any art -- and start saving examples of the things that resonate with you (tip: a Pinterest board is a great way to do this). Your collection can help you discern what styles, colors, and textures you tend to gravitate toward. Again, trust your gut here. Your connection to the art, not its “correctness,” is what makes it meaningful.
When you are moved by a piece of art, it’s thrilling and so very special. Don’t ignore your instincts. Your gut will never steer you wrong. Whether it’s joy, a kinship to the colors, a reminder of a distant memory, or a feeling you can’t yet put into words, find a piece of art that speaks directly to you.
Are there colors you are consistently drawn to? Color and tone can really set the mood of a room, so selecting a piece that reflects your color palette will go a long way toward making sure that your art feels right in your space. You’ll also want to think about the material your art will be made of. If you aren’t sure, here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you decide:
1 | How do you want to display the art? Framed paper prints can suit some spaces, but canvas prints or originals will be more durable in the long term. Our canvas prints and originals do not require any additional protection for display, as they include a UVB protectant that will shield the colors from fading or losing their vibrancy.
2 | Is it important to you that the art be framed? If not, then canvas is definitely the way to go. It can easily be mounted over stretcher bars, then hung without a frame at all. A paper print will require framing under an acrylic protector. We tend to prefer the look of canvas, but if a frame is important to you then paper may be preferable.
3 | Do you want to add blank wall space, or “air,” around your art? This can be accomplished through matting and framing! If you’re a fan of the matted look and the visual border it creates around the art, a paper print would be the ideal choice.
Third: Hanging Your Art
The perfect piece has finally arrived, and now it’s time to hang it! There are a few things you should keep in mind when installing your artwork. First, watch out for super sunny locations. Harmful UV rays can damage and fade work over time. Second consider the surface you’re hanging the work on and plan accordingly. Get the right screws and a stud finder for drywall or plaster, high-quality low-profile hooks for glass or tile, and brick clamps for brick. Using the right tools for the job will keep your art safely on the wall.
When it comes time to hang the piece, take a tip from the pros and measure 57” from the ground, which is the eye level of the average person. You can also display art without hanging it at all, perfect for commitment-phobes and chronic rearrangers. Try leaning a piece against the wall at floor level to hide unsightly cords and cables, or rest a piece against the wall on top of a shelf or chest of drawers.
Finally: It’s Up! Now What?
Your art is hung and the feel of the room is perfect. Now, you’ll need to take a few steps to keep it that way. Every few months, use a damp cloth (no harsh chemicals, just pure water will suffice) to gently wipe down canvas pieces. To clean framed pieces, use a microfiber cloth and an ammonia-free glass cleaner to wipe down the frame and glass. Be sure to spray the cleaner onto the cloth and not the glass to avoid it leaking into the frame and damaging the art.
Periodically, it’s a good idea to check the hanging hardware to make sure that your art doesn’t come off the wall unintentionally. For canvas in particular, environmental conditions like humidity and temperature can affect the tension of the canvas, making it more taut or looser accordingly. You can adjust this with water if necessary by using a little bit at a time.
Don’t let choosing artwork intimidate you! There is no “wrong” piece for your space unless it feels wrong to you. Seek out art that inspires you and stirs your spirit -- you’ll be much happier for it in the end. Listen to your instincts and go with what feels right to you, whether or not it “makes sense.” Your connection with the art is what matters; as long as it’s meaningful to you, you’ve chosen well.