Collecting art can be a daunting process. For a newcomer, it can be almost overwhelming, between finding artists whose work they love, pieces that coordinate well together, and navigating “trends” that the in-crowd says we need to follow. At Chairish, we say: It should be a lot easier than that. Art is supposed to be fun—because art is fun, if you trust your instincts and find things that speak to you personally. 

To make things a bit easier for newbies—as well as any self-proclaimed art aficionados out there who could use a few tips—we asked our very own art category manager, Amanda Morse, for pointers on buying art. From framing to sizing debates to the best materials, we’ve got you covered. To giclée or not to giclée? That is the question: We’ve got the answers.

Amanda Morse, Chairish’s Art Category Manager
Design: Harte Brownlee & Associates. Photo: Trevor Tondro.

Size Matters

It’s true. The size of your artwork matters greatly when you’re considering where to place it. Some pieces look too diminutive over a large sofa or in entryway, for instance, while other pieces of art might overwhelm a smaller space. And sometimes, you’re better off thinking in terms of groupings rather than individual items. “When hunting for art to fit a particular space, know the dimensions you are working with,” Morse says. “Need art to place over a sofa? Use it as an anchor and aim for something that leaves breathing room on either side. Remember that you don’t need to feel bound to finding a single statement piece; consider a gallery wall or diptychs and triptychs to fill a space.” 

Design: Katie White Interiors. Photo: Lena Yaremenko.

The Frame Game

One of the biggest frustrations in the art process can be something that feels almost incidental—framing. We’ve all probably had the experience of going to get a painting or print framed, only to find the process will cost nearly as much as the art itself. Our art expert has a simple solution for this perennial problem. “Save yourself a trip to the framer and buy art already framed,” she says. “Unframed works on canvas can also stand alone, especially in a more minimalist and contemporary setting.” Basically, don’t let framing be the reason you don’t finally get your art on display—you can always buy pieces that are already framed or just keep them in all their frameless glory.

Design: Tucker & Marks. Photo: Edward Addeo.

Materials Can Make All the Difference

Morse points out that it’s essential to know the basics of different types of materials in art. “When it comes to paint mediums, acrylics are nothing to shun: the punchy pigments help render a more vibrant and contemporary look,” she says. “Conversely, oil paints are moodier and create a sumptuous depth. Prints can be a great cost-saver—take note of those using giclée: this is a premium fine art printing method using pigment based inks, rather than dye. They are higher quality and will be longer-lasting.”

Design: Summer Thornton. Photo: Josh Thornton

Master the Mix

Our art expert loves finding the right combination of pieces. A blend of different sizes, styles, and shapes can create visual interest and keep your displays looking interesting. Also, you’ll be able to swap pieces in and out as your tastes change and you acquire new things you want to utilize. As she puts it, “Just like everything else in life, curating art in a room is all about balance. Consider a mix of mediums, sizes, and subjects in the same space.”

Design: Sean Anderson Design. Photo: Alyssa Rosenheck.

Tell a Color Story

However, if you’re hesitant to mix things up and want to keep them fairly straightforward, consider working within one color scheme. Even if you choose different shapes and sizes, you can easily find harmony between pieces that live within the same color families. “When in doubt, stick to a palette,” she says. “Working with an already furnished space? Let that be your guide and pick up on accent colors that are already used.” That way, you can more simply find unity between your artwork and your furnishings, particularly if you’re building a gallery wall.

Design: Lori Gilder / Interior Makeovers, Inc. Photo: Zeke Ruelas.

Find a New Favorite

Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with going back to a classic. If you find an artist you love, there’s no reason not to go back and buy more of their work to expand your collection. And if you happen to enjoy the work of an up-and-coming artist, all the better. “Finding an artist you are drawn to is a great way to narrow your search,” says Morse. “And there’s no shame in going back for more. I love supporting emerging artists and feeling like I helped someone in their creative career. It’s a fabulous way to find a new favorite and support the arts all at the same time.”

Design: The Design Atelier. Photo: Emily Followill.

Embrace What You Love

Finally—and this is probably the most important tip of all—collect what you enjoy. If you’re drawn to a particular piece or artist, you should support them, regardless of whether their particular style is seen as au courant or not. Our (very wise) art expert agrees. “Ditch all the rules and buy what you love,” she says. “Don’t think about what’s trendy or what your mother-in-law might approve of—living with art that speaks to you is the world’s greatest antidepressant.” Truer art advice may never have been spoken. After all, trends come and go, but art you love can last a lifetime.


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October 7, 2022

Dennis Sarlo is the executive editor of Chairish and a lover of all things design-related. Prior to joining the team, he served as the executive editor of Dering Hall and was the first site director of Architectural Digest. He was also part of the founding team of travel startup Jetsetter. He lives in New York.