How to Select Art for your Interior Design Client

When a client asks me to curate artwork for their home it’s exciting and fun but it’s also quite daunting. I love selecting art and discovering artists that I otherwise wouldn’t know about. Curating art for a home is a beautiful and creative way to tie a room together and bring life and creativity to the space. On the other hand, selecting art for someone can also be quite anxiety producing, it’s such an enormous task because there is an endless amount to choose from. Taste in art is such a personal thing.

As an Interior Designer, you get to know your client pretty well by the time you’re selecting art, and your intuitive skills are pretty on point, but you’re not a mind reader (working on it). So I have a system and a set of questions that I like to use to really hone in on the personality and style of my client, the art personality of my client. Let’s face it, it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole and spending gobs of hours researching without really knowing what you’re looking for, time is money y’all and we want to be as efficient as possible.

My first step is to give the client a questionnaire. I find that asking a client to actually fill out a list of questions will actually hold them accountable for giving me the information I need. It forces them to carve out time to sit down and think about it. Make it fun, send them a bottle of wine with the questionnaire, liquid courage for them to let their freak flag fly. After all, art is a place for creativity and a reflection of your personality, a way to express who you are and your interests. Art can also set the mood for a room, it can complete the interiors.

Here are some question I ask my clients before I start the exciting task of selecting art…

Question #1: Location, Quantity & Size. This can be a quick conversation with the client in their home before you give them the questionnaire. Usually location is pretty obvious, it’s also nice to get creative and suggest more unusual placement and locations, it also helps to show some inspiration images for visualization. To determine size, I like to do a quick elevation drawing of the wall where the art will be mounted. If I have time and it’s in the budget, I will do a 2D rendered elevation which really helps the client visualize the art in the space.

Elevation of bed wall with dimensions for mounting

Elevation of bed wall with dimensions for mounting

Rendered elevation of bed wall with selected art

Rendered elevation of bed wall with selected art


Question #2: Do you have existing pieces you want to re-frame? Re-framing a piece of art, whether it’s a drawing, painting, photograph can feel like you are creating a whole new piece. You can really get creative in organizing and relocating existing pieces. There are some great online resources for custom frames that make it super easy, my favorite is Framebridge. Or ask them if they have a collection of items that they want to display on the wall? Be careful with this one, you don’t want them whipping out Aunt Gertrude’s doily collection. This image below from Domino Magazine of framed vintage Hermes scarves is a great example.

Collection of framed scarves (via Domino Magazine)

Collection of framed scarves (via Domino Magazine)


Question#3: What is your favorite style? ….abstract, graphic, architectural, landscape, street art, pop art, figurative, expressionism, surreal, still life…there may be a few more in there I’m missing. Start out big by listing the styles, then hone in because usually I will get a vague answer, which I can totally understand because it’s like asking someone what their all time favorite song is, there are just too many options.

Question #4: What is your art personality? Base your art on your personality. Choose art from the heart. Are you a nature lover? animal lover? traveler/explorer? edgy? fashionista? mystical? spiritual? minimalist? romantic? introverted? extroverted? bold? reserved? hot tropical mama?

Choose Art from the Heart

Art by Krisjan Rossouw via Citizen Atelier

Art by Krisjan Rossouw via Citizen Atelier

For instance, if your client is a math geek you could suggest this piece by Sebastien Leon, who incorporates his background in mathematics and music into his work.

Sebastien Leon via Twyla ( The Ties That Bind My Endless Skies  & New Millennium #1)

Sebastien Leon via Twyla (The Ties That Bind My Endless Skies & New Millennium #1)

If your client is a romantic you can select these two pieces from the Scandinavian print shop Love Warriors

No. 2 Bewilderment & No. 1 Heartbeats from Love Warriors

No. 2 Bewilderment & No. 1 Heartbeats from Love Warriors

If your client is a water sign who craves and feels calm near water you can suggest this piece by Gray Malin who photographs beaches from a birds eye view.

gray-malin.jpg

Question #5: What is your budget? Once you determine the quantity and locations, you need to know your budget. Perhaps the Living Room is the big statement piece and the hallway or office is a lower budget. Most of the on-line art retailers have an option to search by price.

Question#6: What’s your favorite medium? painting, drawing, collage, mixed media, photography? or a combination of several mediums. Original art or a limited edition fine art piece (fixed number of copies for the reproduction of the art piece). That will most likely be dictated by budget.

Question#7: How do you want the art to make you feel? So for instance, in the bedroom you may want to feel calm and serene, or vixen and sexy. In the Living Room you might want something energetic and an interesting conversation piece or fond memories of a past journey. Maybe something with bold color if your interiors are very neutral, or keep the art work black and white if you have enough color in your fabrics and finishes. There’s no rule, it mostly depends on the clients personality and the finished room itself. Art is where we can express ourselves through color and content, so this is where you can really add impact.

A calm, serene bedroom. Art by Sean Gallager, Photography by Monica Wang,Design by Anne Sage Home by Kimberly Lapides

A calm, serene bedroom. Art by Sean Gallager, Photography by Monica Wang,Design by Anne Sage Home by Kimberly Lapides

A conversation piece in a minimal black & white interior (Art by Antonio Mora via Citizen Atelier)

A conversation piece in a minimal black & white interior (Art by Antonio Mora via Citizen Atelier)

This very calm large statement piece over the sofa accents the blue fabrics in the room (via the cool hunter)

This very calm large statement piece over the sofa accents the blue fabrics in the room (via the cool hunter)

There are so many excellent online galleries that make it super easy to search for art depending on your budget, style and medium you choose. Most have designer trade discounts and even payments plans. Resources like Uprise Art helps you discover original contemporary art work by emerging artists with a team of art advisors on hand. I like to check out the bio of each artist I’m interested in and follow on Instagram to get to know them, see who they following and discover more. Getting to know your artist can help you understand the emotion of the art piece itself. And find out what’s happening in your city, show up at gallery events where they are showcasing emerging artists!

Here are some of my favorite online resources for buying art:

Uprise Art : Original contemporary artwork by emerging artists. One of a kind artwork with affordable options and a team of advisors to help you get started.

Saatchi: Large collection with varied prices. Easy to navigate by price point.

Subject Art: World wide gallery featuring new up and coming contemporary art with an expert team of advisors.

Citizen Atelier: Contemporary photography and works on paper from emerging and established artists. Great website with photos of beautiful interiors with artwork.

Captured 52 : Large format contemporary photography

Absolute Art: limited edition, signed and framed prints – printed on the highest quality archival paper – by emerging and established artists from around the world.to expand access to contemporary art, support local artist communities, and democratize the process of procurement.

Artspace : Good resource for show listing and artists to watch for.

Love Warriors: This Scandinavian print shop has romantic and ethereal photos of people, flowers and animals. They ship to US.

Do you have any other questions or ideas to add to the process? please comment!