Design Space: How to buy art with heart

Christchurch design and art blogger Studio Home's Julia Atkinson says art is not a generic canvas, "regurgitated into ...

Christchurch design and art blogger Studio Home's Julia Atkinson says art is not a generic canvas, "regurgitated into the stacks you see at Kmart".

Every week we ask a Kiwi design expert to tell us what they're loving now and how to use it. This week it's Christchurch design and art blogger JULIA ATKINSON of Studio Home who tells us her tips on buying art that will provide you with "food for the soul."

Start thinking of art as something with a story, either attached to the subject matter or the person who created it.

Art is not that generic canvas, regurgitated into the stacks you see in big stores. It's something that resonates with you, forcing heart palpitations or sweaty palms (seriously) when you meet for the first time.

It's food for the soul and a visual treasure that becomes part of your "home", wherever that might be. Something that you attach memories to, not fire it at the bin when you sense that "trend" is over.

The power move here is placing trust in your personal taste and going with it.


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Finding and connecting with artists that ring bells for you is easier than ever before with the arrival of social media. So many artists use this medium, in particular Instagram, to share their process, their resulting work and as a way to connect with you, their like-minded customer.

This direct line to the actual maker will strengthen your attachment to what they produce. 

Here's my advice.

Follow artists on the social media channels you use, as many will hold "follower only" flash sales where you might get lucky and pick up their work a little cheaper. You could begin finding them locally by searching hashtags on Instagram. Try #nzart #newzealandart​


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If originals are out of your reach at the moment, look to see if the artist has options in open or limited edition prints. It's a great way to start collecting their work in lieu of your Lotto win.

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Consider scale. When possible go big. The impact of something in A1 is so much more than A4.

Framing can be tough on the old budget. Where possible I tend to get originals professionally framed. For the rest I have found great success with Factory Frames which offers a custom mat cutting service to fit your artwork into one of their generic frames. Great quality and looks mint.

Large scale frames are now much more readily available at places like Kmart, the Warehouse and Spotlight – just treat with care as they don't tend to be very hardy.

When hanging, play around with grouping art and consider the scale of the furniture it is hung near. An A4 frame will look lost centred above a bed, but could look terrific if paired with another two pieces in matching or similar size. Google image search "gallery wall layout" for ideas.


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Struggling to nail down an artist or style of work you really like? Take some time to browse local art meccas like EndemicworldThe Clever Design Store, or simply browsing the art category of Studio Home that profiles over nine years of NZ and Australian artists.


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 - Stuff


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