My parents’ house is filled with art, and my husband’s parents’ house is filled with art. Although neither home has any available wall space, I am pretty sure they don’t identify as art collectors. I have never asked, but I think this is because they purchase all of their art from local festivals and on trips as opposed to working with galleries and having any sort of contemporary trend-informed collecting strategy. I disagree. They buy original art they love, often directly from the artists. Their walls are covered with a wide variety of art that reflects their style, taste, and memories.
So without any real discussion, my husband and I started looking for art in the same ways when we began living together. Our style is very different from either of our parents’. My parents' house is filled with bright, bold art. The majority of the interior has a pink cast from a neon light piece in the great room. My in-laws’ color palate is diametrically opposed to mine. They love what I call “Santa Fe” colors and detest blue and green. Who hates blue? It boggles the mind. But alas, we both grew up with art covering every square inch of our homes, and we set out to do the same.
But while we knew we were not looking for art in the styles we grew up around, we were not sure what we did want. Although we both have a liberal arts degree, neither of us studied art or art history, and we did not have enough experience looking at art to be able to definitively hone in on our aesthetic. I think this is where most people get stuck. They are not confident in their taste due to lack of experience or knowledge, and they are afraid to commit to a purchase. Understandable. But not insurmountable. My advice is to go with what speaks to you, and you can always change your mind later. Art can be a forever purchase, but it doesn’t have to be.
Our first major art purchase was off of a restaurant wall. There used to be a very strange restaurant in the Buckhead area of Atlanta called Café Tu Tu Tango. The walls were covered with 300-400 paintings (all for sale), and while you ate tapas, salsa dancers may spring up next to you for some live entertainment. Anyway, we fell in love with an oil painting of irises that cost $400. We spent a weekend trying to figure out how we could swing it financially, finally deciding it would be worth months of ramen noodles for dinner to have it.
We bought it and loved it for years, prominently displayed on our mantle. And while it is perfectly lovely, our tastes have evolved, and it is now hanging in the basement playroom, directly in the line of fire of any number of art-destroying kid contraptions. But there is nothing wrong with that. We definitely got $400 worth of enjoyment out of it, and it set us on a path of wanting to surround ourselves with beautiful things (note the blues and greens!).