Art Buying Guide

Easier than hanging wallpaper, less expensive than new furniture, creating a fresh look by updating your walls with new artwork is the best choice for your home or office. You’ll save time, you’ll save money and you’ll make a powerful impact.

Choosing Art can be difficult because its appreciation is subjective. You may have an inexplicable emotional connection to a work that others do not share. So how do you navigate this terrain? This guide will help alleviate the stress by helping you ask the right questions.

In this guide we will look at formal elements (e.g., composition, color, subject, size and line) and how to use them to create harmony in your living spaces. This is your objective: to select art that suits your rooms and will inspire you for years to come. Please read on.

Choosing Art

In selecting artwork, first and foremost, go with what you like. This is your subconscious speaking to you and the necessary first step in decorating. If you are on the fence about an image, there is no way you’re going to love looking at it for years to come, day-in and day-out. So, ignoring the first guttural instinct/attraction is not an option.

Next, you must examine the formal elements of the image to understand whether the artwork fits (i.e. works to create harmony) in your home or office. This is important because when others view the piece—even if they do not share your attraction to the artwork—they will be able to appreciate the image’s ability to create harmony within the room. Let's start with composition.

Compositional Elements

Composition is how the artist directs your eye. All formal elements are part of an image's composition. The artist carefully balances these elements to reach their desired goal, whether that goal is to inspire, provoke thought, energize or simply to create beauty.

An image's composition will accent a room in different ways. The lines of an image, for example, subconsciously sets a tone within a room. Horizontal lines often evoke serenity and peace. Images such as a sunset, a beach scene, a person reclining or laying down all have strong horizontal lines. Vertical lines evoke vitality, energy and progress. Think of a towering tree, a high-rise building, or a horse and rider.

Ask yourself what’s the purpose of the room? Is this a room where I am cooking, relaxing, watching television, entertaining, studying, etc? Do you want to create some vitality, serenity, or even self-contemplation? When you know the answers to these typical questions, finding artwork to match becomes meaningful.

Choosing Colors

Another important point of consideration is color. If you’ve designed your room with a specific color theme, let the artwork act as an accent or even an exclamation point to your motif. Complimentary colors (e.g. green and red, purple and yellow) have the most contrast. In the example to the right the red really "pops" because of it's complimentary color green. Be mindful when using color compliments as an accent because the effect will be bold and can be overwhelming.

The most important fact to remember about color is that it is relative. The exact same color set against a light background will look slightly different against a dark background. Lighting also plays a vital role in color. If possible, a dedicated light source will bring out the color and contrast from your artwork. Lighting is probably the single most important variable when trying to create a focal point.

When choosing artwork based on color it helps to think in terms of temperature and contrast. Whereas neutral and earth toned artwork will work well with most rooms, bold and vibrant colors require careful planning.

Finding the Right Size

Artwork creates harmony when it relates to the size of the wall. What’s the wall shape and size? Tall, narrow walls should get matched to art with a similar shape or appearance. Want the museum look? Select images that are released as a series and group these together in a room or on one wall. How large is the room? Big art in a small room can create what is called a focal point, but tiny artwork vanishes when placed in a huge room with high ceilings.

What is the furniture like? Unless you are dealing with super high ceilings such as the picture to the right, you do not want to select artwork that is wider than the furniture below it. A basic rule to follow: make the artwork not longer than around ¾ of the length of the furniture. This measurement applies to artwork selected as groupings, unless the wall is massive or vaulted, then the images function almost the way traditional wallpaper did back in the day.

Artwork for centuries was one size. If you were from the elite class (i.e. incredibly wealthy) you could commission an artist to create an image to your specifications. We remedied this problem by revolutionizing how artwork is made. All of our imagery is available in multiple sizes. So there is no more frustration caused by finding the perfect image at the wrong size.

Hanging Art

Don’t hang your artwork too high. It’s a common mistake, best avoided by just not doing it. Images should be suspended approximately 60 to 65 inches from the ground to the center of the artwork.

The top of edge of the furniture should be 6 to 8 inches from the bottom of the artwork when hanging above.

Pairs or sets of images should be hung with 2 to 3 inches between. Extra large artwork on large walls with vaulted ceilings can have 6 to 8 inches between. Treat a grouping or a series as one large piece.

Cautious decorators will utilize a pattern made out of butcher paper or newspaper, making this cutout the same dimensions as the artwork. The method is incredibly useful when hanging a series. Tape the pattern to the wall. Mark the paper where the hanging wire on the back of the artwork will meet the picture hanger fastened to the wall. Hammer the nail right through the paper. Remove the paper and hang the art. It’s just that simple.

Pictures hangers are rated for various weights. The ones rated at 30 lbs are usually strong enough to suspend most artwork.

Different Media Types

While unframed gallery wrapped canvas artwork creates a very attractive, modern look, the quintessential “classic feel” for your walls is framed paper imagery. Consider creating consistency by grouping artwork with identical frames or go with an eclectic expression by mixing up your frame selections.

A good rule of thumb to consider is if your home has a very uniform look with matching furniture, you may want to create a “homey-feel,” through selecting different fine art images on paper with varying frame styles. If, in fact, austerity is the desired tone, harmonize with your matching furniture by choosing a series or grouping framed with identical molding. But, if the furniture in your home doesn't match, consider crafting more cohesion with artwork that is uniform in color and subject matter such as a series with identical frames.

Our canvas gallery wrapped artwork is presented on museum-quality, thick wooden bars, stretched with the image wrapping around the sides. It's a clean presentation and Gallery Direct's number one selling style.

Gallery Direct is not limited to canvas or framed paper. In fact, we offer the widest selection printable media. We will print your artwork on birchwood, aircraft grade aluminum and acrylic all fully customizable. You can quickly learn about our alternate substrates here.