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February 18th, 2015

Kick-starting an art collection

A recent lunchtime talk by Jonathon Carroll, co-founder of the contemporary art gallery Carroll/Fletcher was the inspiration for this blog. He hit the nail on the head commenting that so many of us are drawn to art, but somehow also fear it and wonder how and what to begin collecting. An ex-city trader, Jonathan began visiting art galleries while living in the US, as a way of escaping the crazy pace of life. He knew what he liked, got to know the artists personally, started a collection and then his own gallery. He didn’t necessarily see it as an investment, more as something that gave him great enjoyment and to be purchased with discretionary income.

I found myself nodding in agreement with much of what he said. Clients are often cautious about purchasing art, feeling that they are not creative enough and wondering where to start and how much it is going to cost. For designers, art is one of the hardest items to source on behalf of someone else as it is just so “personal”. It is also probably often the best starting point to inspire the colours and themes of entire schemes. So here are some thoughts to kick-start a collection.

Use a favourite piece of artwork as a starting point for a scheme

If you have the luxury of starting from scratch, choose a piece that you love and use it to inspire a scheme. Here are some of my favourite examples where the art makes or breaks the room.

From left to right: Ben Pentreath, Jessica Zoob and Mary Fox-Linton, Veere Grenney, Suzanne Kasler

From left to right: Ben Pentreath, Jessica Zoob and Mary Fox-Linton, Veere Grenney, Suzanne Kasler

Find an artist you like, get to know them and start collecting

Many readers will have heard of Jessica Zoob. I fell in love with her style a couple of years ago, visited her studio and began my journey as a mini-collector of sorts, buying a couple of pieces that give me enormous pleasure every time I walk into the room.  I particularly like the darker colours she has recently started to work with, but keeping her instantly recognisable trademark “Lilly” ….

"Midnight Water 2" by Jessica Zoob

“Midnight Water 2″ by Jessica Zoob

It might be a hobby or a passion that steers you towards an artist or illustrator

I recently came across this “Coffee Art” by artist and illustrator, Eliza Southwood, who creates custom-produced works of art inspired by the professional cycling peloton using dark-roasted coffee beans. Perfect for a cycling-enthusiast’s kitchen then!

"Coffee Peleton" by Eliza Southwood

“Coffee Peleton” by Eliza Southwood

In a different vein I’m currently working with a client who has a “passion for fashion” and these Brian Stonehouse 50’s Vogue Fashion illustrations have a been a fantastic starting point for a dressing room scheme. Abbott and Holder Ltd recently held an exhibition of his work and I believe they plan to hold more.

1950s Vogue fashion illustrations by Brian Stonehouse

1950s Vogue fashion illustrations by Brian Stonehouse

Finally, coming back to where this blog started with the talk by Jonathon Carroll, it opened my eyes to several newer forms of art where both established and newer artists are using a diverse range of media to explore themes related to technology and social media etc. Have a look at Kim Asendorf and Ole Fach’s playful investigation of what the physical world looks like through the eyes of a computer. Or, if you’re still unsure, the next Affordable Art Fair takes place in Battersea, London next month on 12th to 15th March.

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