Want Real Art? Read this First.

Ricardo Mazal in a Client's Tribeca Loft. Photo: Amelie Belanger

Ricardo Mazal in a Client's Tribeca Loft. Photo: Amelie Belanger

"We've never really bought 'real art' before, but we have this piece we picked up on our honeymoon....then my mom gave us this piece from her house...." -- 98% of our new clients.  

Accordingly, were breaking down a few tips for when you want "real" art: 

First, what is it?  If you Google "real art",  the first search result states that "real art is a work of love; fake art is one of deception". WHOMP. That doesn't seem helpful.  Here's what we think: when people refer to "real art", they generally mean some kind of fine art rather than decorative. Fine art can be defined as art by any person committed to his/her artistic practice who is looking at art history as a whole and trying to contribute something to the field. Decorative art is done by someone more interested in created art for hobby or sale purposes. The difference isn't always clear cut, and we help clients get the right mix,  but hopefully this provides some insight. 

Given this, when you're buying, it's important to understand WHAT you're buying. Is it fine or decorative? Whose the artist? How was it made and what materials were used? Did you buy it from a gallery that represents the artist? What's that galleries reputation? Just like when buying other items (clothing, tableware, furniture, etc.) there are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but being an informed buyer helps manage your expectations for your new purchase.

Next, make what you buy look good. This involves framing, installing, and styling accordingly. Honestly, these are all super-annoying costs because they are relevant after you've bought and are in no mood to spend more.  BUT being mindful and finishing the job will ensure your new purchase is protected from damage and looks its best in your space. 

Finally, whatever you buy should bring you joy.  For some, that means seeing a colorful landscape brightening up their bedroom, and for others, it's for a semi-disturbing abstract to provoke thought above a mantlepiece.  Either is great, but no matter how much money you put into a piece, it should have a positive impact on you and your space.

There are about 400 other blog posts I could write based on various tidbits enclosed here, including "where do you hang art", "sources for decorative art" "Where to save and where to splurge"... Tell us what interests you most and we'll answer your questions and add to our growing blog. 


A Few Ways to Dress Your Walls

Photo cred: Chango and Co.

Photo cred: Chango and Co.


Last week, we spent a morning with Farrow and Ball's color experts in their Flatiron showroom. These ladies are educated in color and their paint and wallcovering products are absolutely stunning. We're excited to be working on a fall collaboration with them (since nice walls and art are like  2 peas in a pod) BUT, before that's revealed, we're rounding up some simple ways to deal with your walls. 


Tip #1: Paint thoughtfully. 

Beyond the countless paint color options, there are also paint brands, primers and finishes to consider. Benjamin Moore was my go-to for years since their store is one block away, but higher quality paint can last longer and look richer. Plus, the finish you choose can keep dirt and markings from showing as easily, so toddler handprints aren't ALWAYS visible. 


Tip 2: Avoid wallpaper phobia. 

I love wallpaper, but I will say one of my many pet peeves is when people want to get half involved with the wallpaper trend. They like the concept but are scared of the commitment, so they wallpaper one accent wall. When it's a print you can barely see, I clench a little bit more. 


I would say go big or go home, but we're actually talking about going big [with wallpaper] in your home so....I welcome input on a more apt phase here. Anyways, a room covered in wallpaper on all four walls becomes a refreshingly distinct space in your home, where, I truly believe, diversity is key. Coherency is obviously important, but different rooms need to have their own unique feel. Powder rooms and kids rooms are especially fun places to experiment. Farrow and Ball, Milton and King, and Loboloup are my top three wallpaper shops. 


3. Wall decals not on the wall

Wall decals do not HAVE to be little pictures of birds and elephants from Pottery Barn (flashback to my first kid's nursery 1.0). There are actually a ton of quality ones out there and Urban Walls has nice line up. Our favorite trick? Put them on the ceiling. Chango & Co shows us how to do it in this incredible playroom, pictured above. 


4. Layer art on top

A layered look is a completed one. This is true with clothing, food, interior design and walls. Some type of art or wall decor should go some walls, even if you've painted or wallpapered, or thrown some decals on the ceiling. Some people hesitate because they just spent time, money and effort on tips 1-3 above, BUT the best way to make it all look optimal is to finish the look. 


We help clients nationwide make their walls a bit more awesome. This goes beyond fine art and includes decorative finds, paint color, wallpaper and total solutions for a complete and polished look. Send us your questions and we're happy to help. 

Hey Interior Designers: We heard about your issues...

A viewing of Boo Savilles at Davidson Contemporary

A viewing of Boo Savilles at Davidson Contemporary

We work with interior designers ALL THE TIME  sourcing art for their clients. The challenge they all have in common? Assessing art quality and price. 

Fear not, Designers. This week we are QUITE excited to officially launch Mason Lane Partners -- a designer driven program through which you can simply and quickly get vetted art, with talking points, for your clients.  With this launch, we thought it would be fun to share some basics on evaluating quality and price.  So when you find that piece you LOVE (maybe for your client, maybe for you), consider these points:

1. Artist representation: Determine whether the artist is represented by a gallery. This means that a gallery has some sort of exclusive contract with the artist to promote and sell his/her work. Though gallery representation isn't completely indicative of quality, it can relate to the artist's career trajectory (which relates to price); Artists who have gallery representation tend to have greater exposure and stronger markets as the galleries can be key in leveraging an artist's career. As you may have guessed, artists with gallery representation thus tend to be pricier than those without.

2. Learn the gallery reputation: Not all galleries are skilled at building artist careers. Plus, there are galleries that focus on emerging artists, mid-career, and mature-career artists. To better understand where an artist is in his/her career, do some diligence about the representing gallery.

3. Check out the artist's credentials: A basic rule of thumb is that the more shows, awards, and work in museums that an artist has, the higher quality that artist is considered to be. Obviously there are exceptions, but a solid analogy would be one with food: The more press, noteworthy food critics, and awards a restaurant has, the better the place is.

And finally....

4. The art itself: "Pretty" is not the standard in the art world. Instead, think about whether the art is interesting or not. Is it different from what you've seen before? Does the process by which it's made seem unique? Are you drawn to the work for any reason (including the piece being beautiful, scary, or totally disturbing)? Quality in the art world is not measured by how realistic something looks. (That stopped being a Thing in the late 1800s), or how colorful, textured, or offensive it is. Instead, people are intrigued by what's different. When looking at art and trying to assess quality, consider how unique the piece and artist's process feels to you.

Designers: We're happy to help you source art, come up with an art budget, or even answer your burning questions. Contact us anytime and we can't wait to chat.