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Blaggers guide to buying art

If buying art leaves you with a blank expression to match your blank walls, then read on, laydee. Before you make an expensive mistake, we called in the experts for some top tips.

We moved to our house 15 years ago – and I still haven’t finished decorating all the rooms (*hangs head in shame*), let alone have artwork on all of the walls. But it’s rocketing to the top of the to-do list. If I’m going to nail adulting, I need to get a grip.

While on the surface, art might seem like an indulgence, it’s actually one of life’s simplest pleasures. Forget about the eye-watering sums spent on big name originals. Earlier this month Banksy’s Devolved Parliament (chimps replacing the MPs) had a guide price of £1.5m and sold this month £10m. Waaaaay out of my league.

Contemporary art fair

But buying art can be affordable and fun, and I love mixing inexpensive prints with affordable one-of-a-kind originals. Which is why I’m heading to Contemporary Art Fair at Windsor Racecourse in a couple of weeks (Private view Fri 8, Sat 9 and Sun 10 Nov). Some brilliant artists (several of them local) will be exhibiting, you browse freely, chat to artists and pick up some affordable art, anywhere between £40 and £4,000.

With over 160 exhibitors you’re bound to find something – from landscapes to avant garde sculpture, arresting photography, urban art and more – I defy you not to buy! Even if you have no serious intention of prising open your purse, it makes a fab day out.

To help give us a clue, and save us from making an expensive mistake, I quizzed interior designer Kate Lovejoy, the queen of colour and cool interiors, on what to consider when buying art for you home…



Abstract landscape of harbioour using blue white grey and gold acrylics

Sunny Outside abstract landscapes capture reflect nature and the seasons.

I find people are in one of two camps. They either buy art because they love it and they will design a room around it. For them it’s an emotional purchase. Or you have no attachment to the artwork, but simply want to add texture to your home. This type of person will treat it in the same way as wallpaper. You can always change your wall colour to tie pictures and interiors together. The colours of the art will dictate the tones to use within the space. There’s no right or wrong answer, but you have to work out your motivation. Either a piece of art speaks to you, or it doesn’t need to.



Steve Yeates figurative sculpture red paper maiche head and shoulders of man with head in hands

Steve Yeates’ passionate figurative sculpture made from socially intrinsic recycled materials.

I work quite holistically to create schemes that are immersive – nothing stands alone. My film industry background helps me to see spaces in 3D, and create moments in a room that work with the overall design. You may have a chair in a corner with a floor lamp and small, jewel-like piece of art that pulls that draws your eye to that area of the room.

Try not to worry about arranging all your art in the middle of a wall. Sometimes playing with proportion, placement and grouping can make all the difference. Gather up all your pictures and collectables and try and edit the pieces that you love, work together and what doesn’t – but try and keep it all tonal. There will be places that naturally lend themselves for art placement, and will become a focal point, but I’d say try and be experimental.



Photo realist Martin Taylor's sketch of a woman in cap and baseball jackt spray painting a woman called Looking Back

Photo realist Martin Taylor’s awesome picture ‘Looking Back’

Play with proportions. Dainty artwork can be just as impactful as something huge. I like the element of surprise. Playing with scale in general is always good, and it applies to furniture and lighting as well as art.

You home does not need to look like a gallery, unless you want it to. So don’t be afraid to mix inexpensive prints with original pieces in a gallery walls. Or layer up your scene with sculptural pieces in different forms – ceramic, glass or brass etc.

I find people are afraid of grouping things together, but it can look amazing. I did a gallery wall recently of eight to 10 prints, keep the images tonal and add texture with pattern. Personally, I don’t think photos really work, but if you love it. Go for it.



yello sofa three green organic images on wall in white frames

Tinkz.Art tonal, co-ordinated artwork

Frames are really important – and can end up costing as much as the some of the art you have bought. Think about the practical stuff: where you want to hang it? Does it need anti-reflecting glass? Or would it better in a spot where reflection isn’t an issue? Is it a standard size? I’d use professional framers where possible, the results are so much better. That said, if you buy inexpensive frames, create bespoke inserts for about £15-£20 and it will make a huge difference to the overall look.




London underground with iconic UK pop an rock stars rising up the escalator

Punky pop art from Dirty Hans’ Best Of British

To be honest, there are aren’t really many rules. A lot of it comes down to personality. If you hate clutter, you’re more likely to hang your art with military precision – even spaces and symmetrical. If you’re a bit more go-with-the-flow, an eclectic gallery wall with a mix of frames and finishes will appeal.

That said, when it comes to mixing and matching frames, I would stick to a seasonal palette.  I wouldn’t put silver and gold together, but I think Black, white and gold work, as do natural wood and gold,

When putting art in your room, try and keep to one tone.

If you’re grouping things, the odd number rule it naturally feel right. It’s not necessarily hard and fast, but as a basic rule, it’s not a bad one to follow.

Use Command strips to hang everything. Heavier piece will need holes and hooks putting into the wall, but anything relatively light, use these. They’re brilliant.

For gallery walls, as a guide I’d say go start create a horizontal line keep the space within 30cm of the bottom and 40cm from thee sides. Lay the frames on the floor and play with positions. Pinterest has lots of plans for you to follow.

If the artwork is big, make sure you have measured the spaces you will hang it.



Artist Lynne Wixon pops up The Contemporary Art Fairs and sells in Etsy too.

It will always depend on your budget. But I am a huge fan of affordable art fairs like The Contemporary Art Fair, and Fresh:Art Fair. There’s a lot of original works that can be surprisingly affordable. So start there. Etsy is another great source for inexpensive prints and posters as well as originals. Poster Lounger, King and McGaw,, Habitat and Rockett St George are all worth looking at and some of the sites you can refine your search by colour and style. So it can make the search a bit simpleasierr if you are only looking for images that work tonally.



Kate Lovejoy Interiors Kate sat at desk

If you lack confidence, or want to ensure you absolutely nail the art and room design, then call in the professionals. I know I would say that, but often interior designers can use their expertise, contacts and trade discounts, to get the best price and ensure the end result reflects your style and personality. Sometimes it can be hard to visualise.


The Contemporary Art Fair, Windsor, is on from Fri 8 to Sun 10 Nov. Buy tickets here.

Find more ideas here


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