Buying art can be one of the most difficult parts of decorating a home. It’s an object of permanence that’s difficult to switch up should your tastes change, and often a pricey object at that: original works often require a financial investment. Then, there’s the assumption that you must possess a prerequisite knowledge to choose the “right” piece, compounded by the potentially intimidating settings of galleries or convention-centre art fairs. All in all—it’s hard not to feel daunted by the process. “Sometimes you can feel a bit excluded from art,” Kate Bryan, head of collections for Soho House, admits.
Yet, if done right, framed visuals can be the most rewarding pieces in your home, whether a decor accent that acts as a conversation piece or a work that becomes a generational heirloom. With that in mind, Vogue asked Bryan, who selects and curates art for the creative members club’s outposts around the world, how to pick works that will hang in your home forever. Read all of her tips below.
Develop a relationship with the artist
“When you’re just an independent person on your own acquiring artwork, there’s a real thrill in making a relationship with an artist and having that artist be someone that you maybe had a conversation with or that you follow on Instagram. These are not products and commodities like other things you buy. You’re buying a bit of someone’s soul—not to sound too sappy about it, but you are. You’re a custodian of something quite special, so it’s nice to be in touch with the artist in any way you can.”
Don’t be intimidated to ask all the obvious questions (including how much it is)
“Ask those people in the booth how much it is. Ask what stage artists are at in their careers. Ask them anything—don’t be embarrassed, that’s their job! The artists want their work to be talked about. Say: ‘Hey, I was just looking at this piece, could you let me know a little bit about it? How old is the artist? Where are they based?’ Learn absolutely everything you can.”
Figure out the artist’s point of view—and whether you relate to it
“I’m always looking for someone who’s got a very distinct voice. The thing about art is that it shouldn’t ever really be a lot of work—an artist makes art because that’s the simplest way for them to get their point of view across. (And there’s always a point of view.) You want to be able to say, ‘Okay, I see where you’re coming from.”
Focus on one emotion above all: excitement
“When you are in a space, you need to look at things that really excite you—skip the stuff that confuses or frustrates you. If you do that, you’ll appreciate it forever.”
Forget about the market
“If everyone says, ‘This is the hot artist in town,’ great, but that’s not necessarily going to resonate with you down the line. You don’t want to buy something because it’s a product or it’s a commodity. Instead, think about: How does this make me feel? How will I feel living with this piece in my house? How will I feel talking to my friends and family about it? What is it about this artist that I believe in? What is it about that piece that’s connecting with you?”
This article was first published on Vogue.com.