Art – More Or Less

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A fellow interior decorator put it best when she said, “No room is complete without art. It is absolutely essential – even the best rooms fall flat without it.” I couldn’t have said it better and have actually altered my process to start interior design projects with a discussion about art because it’s honestly that important. Art also has the added pleasure of being extremely subjective, painfully expensive, and it takes a REALLY long time to land. In other words, my beautiful yet difficult, uncontrollable, seemingly-endless labor of love. Multiply this by every project I work on and you are now in my nightmare.

There’s no getting around the fact that a room needs art. It is often the grounding agent, sometimes the showstopper, and always, always, always the bearer of its owner’s stories. While I can never condone mass-produced art (and this is mostly because there’s NO excuse with all of the amazing art that I see every day AND because it tends to totally suck), I have a very broad palette and can almost always find things that my clients cherish that will make for great art. Just recently I pulled some gorgeous images from a client’s Instagram account and we tiled together a wall collage with a stunning collection of photos that were near and dear. Unique, personal, and less expensive than buying someone else’s work – the art trifecta.

I always tell my clients that art is the one thing I can’t really do for them. And while I know it’s time consuming and can feel overwhelming, even if I steer them in the right direction for where to look, it’s just something they need to do themselves. You have to look at your art every day so it’s important that it resonates, gives you joy, is beautiful (even if it’s just to you), and sometimes it even acts as a gateway to a significant memory. The reasons why it speaks to you are less important than the fact that it does.

As a designer I can tell you that a room without art feels hollow, cold, off balance, and unfinished. It’s a big fat no-no to me (probably because I’m also an artist), and when the right art finally lands and you can’t explain why the room suddenly feels so amazing and has completely come to life, then I trot out my I-told-you-so smile and do a Snoopy dance. And I must admit that the satisfaction of being right doesn’t come close to my admiration for the art and the debt I owe to the artist because I couldn’t do it without them and their calling.

I’ll close by saying that there is a shit ton of absolutely breathtaking art out there if you take the time to look and keep an open mind. I will also tell you to stretch and buy the best you can afford, because you will never be sorry and the joy it gives back will pay for itself over and over again. It’s the best investment you can make because it’s about supporting artists on the back of your own happiness, which is always a win win. The art above is by Marcus McClure of Creativity Explored, a San Francisco organization that supports and provides studio space for 130 adults with developmental disabilities working as self-employed artists. The work is delightful, raw, original and it changes lives. Especially the lucky ones who feel honored to own it.

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