How much should artwork cost?

I'm going to be pretty honest here; I love a good deal. 

The kind of deal where something is originally $100 and I get it for $5. The kind of bargain that you are so excited about that you have to tell your husband that he doesn't realize how good you are because you just scored - BIG.

However, I feel like this is a trend in how people view art, too. In order to buy it, and feel good about it, you need to get a deal. 

Photo courtesy of Cuff Home

As a designer and a bargain hunter, I understand that sometimes things should cost more. But because the art world has the "aura" around it that make people think they need $1000s in order to buy "good art" they just settle for prints from Target or Bed Bath and Beyond. I have nothing against the artwork sold at box stores. However, I think we need to talk about the cost of original art.

The REAL cost of art.

My mantra is this - Artwork shouldn't necessarily cost more than a sofa, but it should definitely cost more than decorative pillows. 

Artwork is something that you will probably have on your walls long after the recyliner has been replaced and the dining room chairs have been updated and chevron pattern has been declared "dated".  It will potentially even be passed onto to your kids, if they like it. Since the lifetime of artwork is SO much longer than most pieces of furniture in your home, shouldn't it be worth the extra money? 

What are the benefits of spending $ on artwork?

Photo Courtesy of Angie Hranowsky

1. Automatic Sophistication

When you go into someone's house and they have an original piece on their walls, their room looks sophisticated (even if you don't like the art!). It brings the room's interest level to new heights and instead of scanning the room and moving on, you typically want to go look at it up close (it also helps if the room is designed well around it :).

2. Point of Interest

When there is an art piece in the room, it's usually a point of interest. If you think about art like a pattern or a fabric, in the sense that it's a texture for the wall, it makes the room more interesting. With the rise of wallpaper, the desire for this "textured" look is all the more on trend and the best part is - art never goes out of style!

3. Crazy about where you live

It's waaaay too easy to look at Pinterest and magazines and blogs and want your house to look perfect. One of my most recent favorite quotes is that "'A perfect home' only exists in the mind" and that you will never have it all the way you want (This is part of a wonderful post that I encourage you to read here). I'm not going to try to tell you that once you have the "perfect" art piece on the wall that your house is going to all of a sudden feel finished. What I am going to say is that what you have on your walls- for years- should make you happy. It should be something that you LOVE to look at and that compliments the look that you want in your home. Even if you had all the furniture on your want list, blank walls will make it feel unfinished. 

4. Flexibility Flexibility Flexibility

The most amazing part about art, is unlike a sofa that might not fit in your next house if the rooms aren't the right shape, art can always be worked into a room. And if you live somewhere for years and want a different feel, rotating artwork is a great way to accomplish that. If you love a piece of art, you will always love it. You will always find a way to display it/use it/ focus on it. And many times you can recreate a new palate from the same piece of art. Just because you have accents in your house that are mint green and gray doesn't mean you can't do other colors later on with the art you have. 

5. Personality

I don't mean to sound cheesy, but art really does evoke different feelings in people. Calmness, joyfulness, soberness, peacefulness- are all words that people use to describe artwork. This adds to the mood of the room and let's people into your world. How do you feel when you're at home and no one is around? How do you want your room to feel to people when they come over? I think art sets the tone of a space because it helps dictate the color palate and the imagery in your room, which in turn helps create the mood.   

Photo courtesy of Jenny Komenda

If you want hard numbers from me, I won't give them to you. I don't want to give them to you because if you are a teacher and want to buy a print from Minted.com but feel guilty because it's cheaper than what you "think you should spend"- that's wrong. And if you're able to afford a piece from a gallery who's lowest painting is $600 and feel guilty that "it's too much"- that's wrong. You need to spend your money on artwork that you can afford but also realize that just like everything else, there are different tiers. There is good art at every tier, you just have to look for it. I do think that artwork should be more than what you spend on throw pillows or a wedding present for a friend. It's an "accessory" that will outlive most of your upholstered furniture and that needs to considered when you're thinking about a budget. 

Sometimes people want you to know they spent a lot on a piece of art. The same way people drive a Porche- they want you to assume that they spent a lot of $. But the difference is that the people who bought art will have it WAY longer than any car. ESPECIALLY if they spent a lot on it.

There are many websites that offer artwork from artists. Minted, Artfullywalls, chairish, buddy editions, society 6 are some examples. Not to mention the local festivals, farmer's markets and art gallery crawls that many towns and cities have. Or artists like me who sell their work online :)  

So if you're on the fence about whether you should buy a new pair of boots for Fall or a piece of art- I vote the one that won't go out of style:

The art.