Most people acknowledge that artwork can make or break a project. Some interior designers have even found that using artwork as their starting point can be beneficial, taking inspiration from the size, colour, texture and theme.
Art is a hugely divisive subject. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all. A painting which ticks all the boxes for one person might appear amateurish to another, and the problem only expands when you factor in framing too. So the next time you're in art procurement mode consider the following guide and you might just thank us!
On your marks
Get set... what's your brief? If you haven't yet discussed artwork with your client it's probably best to. Neglecting this until the concluding stages will often lead to needlessly stressful nights and unsuccessful results.
There are literally millions of prints available. So having a tight brief to work to will help to narrow your search. If you've been given creative licence keep an open mind throughout, but remember always to put yourself in the clients' shoes. Referring back to a mood board throughout will keep you focused.
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so try browsing some art catalogues or websites with your client in an attempt to understand their likes and dislikes. It will make your job easier in the long run."
- Paul Lowther, Marketing Manager
Throughout your search make sure you keep a track of where you found the items you liked. Bookmark pages in your browser and use labels to mark products within a catalogue. Transfer these notes into a central repository for easy access. Evernote is a great tool for this, it's free and allows you to share ideas with other people involved.
The first port of call for many will be the internet. There are hundreds of interior design sites, but our favourite is Houzz. As well as being a brilliant blog, it's a platform which brings together home owners and home professionals to create a visual feast of inspirational ideas. A simple site search for 'Art' brings back over 360,000 high quality photos for you to enjoy, likewise 'Framing' returns 240,000. A solid starting point then.
Why not stop off at our own professional Houzz profile?
Having a strong online presence has become a priority for many creative's over the last few years and social media is an easy way for them to build a following. Dedicated pages on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have proven to be effective methods of communicating with an audience. And it's easy to see why, these platforms thrive on the beautiful imagery these content creators bring. So find an artist that fits the brief and strike up a conversation with them or their agent via social media.
Did you notice that we left out Instagram from the list above? That's because we think it deserves a special mention. Why? Because unlike Pinterest and Co. we love the slice of reality that it provides. Images on Instagram don't look 'overdone' and as such you feel that they're more achievable.
- @loafhome Loaf Swish sofas, bonza beds and cool kitchen-y stuff. Champions of serious quality and good old British manufacturing, we�re experts in the art of snug.
- @housetohomeuk Create a look you�ll love with 1,000s of home style tips, room ideas, expert advice and stylish buys.
- @em_henderson Stylist, New York Times Bestselling author of STYLED, TV personality, and founder of a daily style blog.
- @houseandhomemag Magazine of home and style. | Decorating | Design | DIY Projects | Food | Today's pick
- @farrowandball Explore the Farrow & Ball difference.
"Find a blogger/designer/interiors nut you love and then follow their every move - you will find inspiration for your new home project everywhere. Don't overlook the power of comment sections either they're often full of great ideas."
- Ciara Elliott, Acting Editor of EKBB
It's easier than ever to discover new artists and styles. Sites like art.com give you easy access to an incredible array of images. They have literally millions of prints ranging from reproduction Renaissance art to more modern abstract. We can't fault their art selection, but their frames are rather expensive, there isn't much to choose from and they don't offer trade prices or services for interior designers.
Other, more unique sites like our official partner Not On The Highstreet offer thousands of personalised art prints. We love the idea of introducing some customised word art, because it's the little touches and an attention to detail that sets you apart from the crowd.
You might find it useful to draw inspiration from other interior design projects. Most interior designers will feature an online portfolio and you can find hundreds of recognised designers on sites like the BIID.
Photography is another option. Many Photographers will offer their pictures as downloads for you to print and some even sell prints ready for framing. Most Photographers don't offer framing services online because shipping large, often fragile items isn't something they enjoy doing. However, our services for photographers make doing this easy as pie!
If you prefer the more traditional methods of finding art then eFRAME have a number of art catalogues available to be viewed on request. Once you've found some art you like (whether it's online or offline) let us know and we'll order it for you from any of our preferred art houses. You can find out more about our services here.
If your budget allows, nothing quite compares to having some art commissioned. People love the concept of owning a one-of-a-kind piece and by commissioning you can ensure that the final look and feel of the picture will work harmoniously with the rest of the decor. What's more, original artwork can often be seen a wise investment.
Of course the budget for these projects will need to be considerably larger, but you might be surprised at how affordable local artists will offer their services for. This is where effective networking could score you points. Galleries & some public spaces will host exhibitions where you'll get to meet with both artists and photographers. Speak to them directly or liaise with their agents regarding commissioning a piece. Many creative professionals will happily take the time to discuss upcoming projects with potential customers.
If you decide to engage their services you'll probably be asked if you'd like to visit their studio. It pays to research their previous work in advance of the meeting. Take note of style, size, texture and subject matter then play to their strengths as a professional. Asking an artist step outside of their comfort zone may lead to somewhat unexpected results.
One of our favourite clients is David Cotter, this is his recent Cuban Life exhibition held in London. You might even be lucky enough to bag yourself a delicious Mojito cupcake!
If you're the type who enjoys inspecting a product in the flesh before committing to a purchase then visiting an Art Gallery or two is a logical idea.
Have you tried visiting a pop-up gallery yet? This new phenomenon is proving to be a big hit with student artists. You'll find these temporary set ups anywhere from shopping centres, library lobbies or town centres.
"Great interior design to me is almost like a beautiful piece of music or art. It's about how all the different parts go together to create an unforgettable experience"
- Samantha, Editor at Dulux Magazine
Art & craft fairs
Look to shows such as the Affordable Art Fair in London Battersea and Hampstead to uncover the hottest new trends. The UK's art industry is thriving and cities like Sheffield and Brighton are trying to define themselves as the hub of this burgeoning art scene. Art fairs offer a unique opportunity to view contemporary artwork alongside traditional work. Everyone from seasoned art collectors to buyers on a budget can be at these events.
University graduate exhibitions are a great place to pick up a bargain. Young artists needing to break into the market will often discount their work. Venue, dates and ticket prices will be confirmed by each university or art school. Many universities and art collages have an events newsletter so it's worth signing up.
|Whitechapel Gallery, London||They sell prints of current exhibitions in the gallery shop as well as events with artists throughout the year|
|Tate Modern, London||High quality prints and postcards are available from the shop or online|
|Tate Britain, London||Classical art prints, posters and postcards|
|Tate St Ives, Cornwall||Sculpture and art from the St Ives artists, including Ben Nicolson and Dame Barbara Hepworth|
|Saatchi Gallery, London||An excellent source for works by known artists as well as up and coming talent. Their artist list can be viewed online prior to visiting|
Ask for help
It might sound obvious, but many don't do it. Asking for help and discussing artwork with colleagues, clients or even friends can go a long way.
As a professional photographer here at eFRAME, Sam will regularly ask the support team and framers for their take on what art to shoot in each frame style.
"We like to get people involved when it comes to photographing art for the website and lookbooks. As a subjective topic it doesn't matter who I ask, everybody has an opinion that can assist our thinking."
- Sam Marsh, Photographer
Look closer to home
Sometimes the best ideas are right in front of you. And whilst the prospect of finding a lovely new print is an appealing challenge for any interior designer, you might actually experience the best results by simply re-framing a clients existing collection.
Talk to the client and see if they have a collection of prints, photographs or postcards stashed away. In the form of a gallery wall they can make for a spectacular focal point.
As an interior designer you'd probably consider yourself a creative person, so do you have any artistic talent yourself? Do you have a passion for painting, drawing or photography? If so, try testing yourself. You'll be amazed at how professional your landscape photos can appear once framed!
We often find that clients wish to keep existing art and photographs, challenging you to incorporate these prints into the new room. From a beloved set of photographs to paintings that have been in the family home for years. Give these items fresh appeal by surrounding them with a frame which is inkeeping with the new decor.
Give existing art a new lease of life by framing it differently in a custom frame or mount
"I adore finding old paintings at antiques fairs or thrift shops, the vintage theme is something I go for when designing. Having these restored by professional artists as well as fitting them with a new frame and mount just gives them a new lease of life!"
- Adelle, AG Interiors
Once you're happy with a collection of potential suitors you'll need to visualise them. Keep it simple by printing or cutting out the items you like and sticking them to a mood board, or jump into the 21st Century with virtual mood boards. The Mood Board app for iPad allows you to visualise on the go. Good Mood Board is a useful website that allows you to share your concepts with a community. And of course there's always Pinterest.
The right work of art can finish off a space beautifully and we hope that the ideas above help you, but if you're short on time or simply don't enjoy this aspect of your role we have the ability to source artwork for you from a range of industry partners. Just give us a call on 01480 214777 to learn more.
Consider eFRAME's downloadable style guide. We've worked closely with our suppliers to produce a lookbook outlining a collection of current interior trends and paired them with frames to match. Ready to print out and keep, our handy guide is designed to be a useful reference for all interior designers.