It could be oil on canvas, a digital print or a sculpture – buying a piece of art that your love is thrilling. Adding to that and cultivating a collection enables us to explore our artistic tastes and endlessly enjoy looking at our choices everyday. But taking the plunge and purchasing a piece of art can sometimes feel daunting. Regardless of how much or how little you are spending, committing to hanging something on your wall requires some thought.
We asked art expert Rebecca Gordon, head curator at Rise Art, to share her thoughts on choosing and buying art. With thousands of artworks from hundreds of incredible contemporary artists, both established and up and coming, Rise Art works with some of the most prestigious galleries and museums in the UK – making Rebecca the perfect person to offer advice. Here she explains how to create your own collection, where to find amazing pieces and how to display them in your own home.
Tell us a bit about your background in the art world Rebecca
After completing my MA in History of Art at Edinburgh University I spent the next 7 years working for private art dealers in the West End working with extremely high value works varying from Old Masters to 20th Century and Contemporary art.
It was a very ‘hands on’ training where I learnt about everything from picture conservation and framing to bidding in auctions, attending and working at the world’s most important art fairs and looking after the top private clients. After working in this elite sector of the art world, coming to Rise Art was a refreshing change where I could apply and use my experience in the emerging art market. My knowledge of both ends of the art market enables me to confidently guide first time buyers in the right direction depending on their individual requirements.
So you know you would like a new piece of art – where are the best places to look for one?
You are spoilt for choice these days:
● Traditional Galleries
● Art Fairs
● Graduation Shows
● Open Studio events
● And obviously online!
I went to some great Art fairs and graduation shows this year, and particularly enjoyed the START Art Fair – a platform that shines a spotlight on emerging artists and new art scenes and aims to enable collectors, curators, and the greater public to discover new artistic talent.
The Other Art Fair is another great place to find interesting artists because the artists take the stands themselves rather than a gallery. Also, The Slade, Camberwell and Wimbledon summer graduation shows were fantastic and we found some really interesting artists there.
However, online galleries really allow a new level of accessibility for customers to reach artists they would otherwise have little chance of coming across from the comfort of their home! In this ‘time short’ world, convenience is everything! And with an art marketplace like Rise Art you have the comfort of knowing that the artists and artworks have been selected by experts, and that help and advice from our curators is always on hand.
What are the most important things to consider when buying a piece of art?
￼● Follow your heart - make sure the work speaks to you emotionally. Trust your instincts and NEVER let yourself be ‘bullied’ into buying anything, often you will regret it.
● Ask for help. Having a guiding hand from an advisor can be extremely useful not only can they save you time by doing the ‘hard work’ for you but often they will put pieces in front of you that you would not have found or even considered before. Overall, an advisor is there to give you added confidence, answer any of your questions and generally facilitate the often daunting step of purchasing an artwork.
● Be prepared and informed – research the background of the artist (what art school they attended and what their plans for the future are, any solo / group exhibitions, this gives you a good idea of where the artist is heading, particularly useful if you are looking at this purchase as a potential investment opportunity).
● Condition of the work – has it been framed well, particularly if it’s a work on paper (archival materials should have been used to ensure the longevity of the work.)
What is the best way to display art? Any interesting or stylish ideas?
There are multiple hanging styles:
● Geometric hangs, a salon/gallery hang, and stairways are all fantastic and unusual ways to
display artworks. Tip: When hanging multiple works together, always plan ahead and make paper templates true to size to stick on the wall first this avoids costly mistakes and unnecessary holes in the wall!
● Group smaller work together to make a big impact instead of using one large work
● Hanging art on brightly painted or wallpapered walls looks great and can really draw
attention to the artworks and make them ‘pop’ out.
● Displaying prints, photographs or works on paper beneath a glass topper on a coffee table is
an unusual way to display art and can look fantastic.
● Lastly, book cases, mantles or shelves simply rest / lean the work in the bookcase
interspersed with other objects and books. This adds another dimension and interest to a standard bookshelf.
Do you have any tips on framing?
I am old school and love everything framed, including works on canvas.
● Tray frames are perfect for canvas works and often they are very reasonably priced but
finish the work and in my mind elevate the work and make it look more expensive.
● Window mounting if you are trying to fill a larger space then this type of frame is perfect. It also provides smaller works with a greater sense of importance by drawing our eye into the
● Float mounting This is the best way of mounting and framing a work on paper that has a
raw, torn edge by keeping this element of the work visible, which enhances the original
quality of the artwork.
● Colour mounts These can be really fun and effective at coordinating colours to your
existing interiors colour scheme or picking out an existing colour within the work, however, It is important that you choose the mount colour carefully to ensure it matches the colour within the artwork perfectly or compliments it well if using a different colour.
What do you need to consider about your home when choosing a piece of art?
There are a number of things to consider:
● Lighting will the work have either good lighting or natural light in the position where it is
being hung. Depending on the nature of the work, certain artworks really require good lighting of sorts. A warning on natural light if the work is on paper and near natural light, be aware of the risk of the artwork fading and consider UV protected glazing.
● Give the artwork space to breath, unless you are hanging as part of a group.
￼● Works hanging in a bathroom should be moisture protected artworks don’t enjoy changes in temperatures and humidity.
● Use colourful artworks to compliment your existing colour scheme and add layers to your house.
● Try to hang works at eye level where possible and keep a consistent centre point, so everything is in line
What’s hot in the art world now?
Contemporary Asian art continues to grow in popularity and certainly now these artists are being well represented at more affordable art fairs. One appeal is that in Asia there are two different kinds of art: traditional art of that country and the art that is informed by the Western tradition. The results are works that combine traditional art with popular culture. They often have a great sense of humour and quirkiness within their work that is fresh and interesting for us.
Another trend I am noticing is a return to the traditional act of painting. In this digital world we live in, the personal, powerful medium of painting in which the hand and presence of the artist can be immediately felt is welcomed by many collectors. Often, it will be a case that the artist is using traditional methods and mediums but with a contemporary spin. For example, Peter Haslam Fox has rejuvenated the traditional, technique of watercolour painting, which is often considered ‘dated’ these days and created striking images through such a delicate medium. Within his white on white works, the equal importance that the paint and the white, raw paper play is fascinating.
If you are on the look out for a new piece of art then Rebecca is the perfect person to help you. Contact her at Rise Art for more information. All art featured is available from Rise Art.