So you want to be minimal....what artwork do you look for?

Minimalism is definitely here. I don’t know exactly when it came on the scene (sometime in the last 10 years), but this idea of living with what you love and pairing down all the “stuff” is very popular right now.

I’m such a sentimental person that it can be hard for me to give up things that I have attachment with. So while I admire people who are minimal, I can only say that I strive to be one but I am not there yet.

There is a specific type of art that I feel looks best with minimalism. As I was analyzing the various types of artwork that works best, I realized that they are all very similar to each other. Different versions of the same concept that the minimal design is trying to say. Each trying to be visually minimal in their subject matter and the idea of openness and "cleanness" is a major component of each piece. 

Here are 6 types of artwork that I think look perfect in minimal designs.

1. Tone on tone pieces

Photo courtesy of Cup of Jo, art by Allison Schulnik

Photo courtesy of Cup of Jo, art by Allison Schulnik

Tone on tone (or analogous) pieces are ones that very similar colors. Their colors are next to each other on the color wheel and are so they are all warm, cool or neutral colors. By restricting your color palate you are minimizing the amount of visual “noise” you have on the walls.

2. Line Drawings

Bellerophon by Elliott Puckette

Bellerophon by Elliott Puckette

Line Drawings in general are great for minimal designs. Since they are “flat” (meaning they don’t have a lot of depth to them), they go really well with the simple tones and textures of a minimal space.

3. Maps

You could say that maps are another type of line drawing. And they are structured which make them read like geometric shapes (the next option). The nice thing about maps, is that you can have a personal connection with them. Maps represent something and when you don't have a lot of family photos or other memorabilia on display, they can tell the story. 

4. Geometric Shapes

Fragment 2 by Scott Gardiner

Fragment 2 by Scott Gardiner

Minimal designs have minimal shapes. There aren’t ornate carvings on coffee tables or complex colorful sofas. When you minimize not only the amount of furniture you have, but also the fabrics, the shapes of the furniture start to play a major role in how the room looks. By incorporating geometric shapes in your art, you are visually connecting the art and the furniture together.

5. Photography with simple shapes/ forms

VIKI 001 by Erin Tengquist

VIKI 001 by Erin Tengquist

Photography looks amazing in minimal designs. The attention to detail and texture that they give, beautifully compliment the lack of furniture. In particular, photography that only has a few elements in it. In this photo, there is the figure and the floor of the pool. Nothing else. Thus forcing your attention on a handful of elements. This unifies the room together because you could say that the lack of furniture and the simple photo are speaking the same language ( I know this is a little artsy, but just trust me). Which brings me to the next option- negative space.

6. Negative space (aka minimal) pieces in general

Photo courtesy of Amber Interiors

Photo courtesy of Amber Interiors

This minimal piece mimics the black lines of the chair and has a lot of blank or negative space in the center. Negative space is a huge theme in minimal designs (only having the stuff that matters) and so naturally the artwork would also follow suit and have a lot of blank space as well. This blank space doesn’t have to mean that it’s actually white (it could be navy or black etc). The key is that little to no movement is happening in that blank area.

I’ve noticed that many minimal designs don’t necessarily hang artwork. They layer it, prop it and arrange it on dressers, mantles and benches. This artwork is usually more complex (like a rich oil painting of a farm) rather than one of the above options. So if you’re wanting to use a piece that isn’t mentioned above, I would recommend using it in a bookcase or leaning it on top of your entry console.

Note- I did not put quotes on this list, but words are graphically minimal and I think are fine in small doses. Too many words/quotes makes the design less minimal and can be uninteresting after a while.


Would you use any of these types of art for your home? Do you like the minimal trend?