It should come as no surprise that one of my absolute necessities when looking for a new place was the option to hang art. There’s nothing worse than not being able to put your own personal stamp on your home and I’m a firm believer that pieces of artwork are the way to add a dash of charm and a little bit of your personal style to any abode.
Plenty of people mention to me that they’re at a loss when it comes to buying art and don’t know where to start. In all honesty, I find that a little strange. To me, buying art and illustration is just like picking up a new pair of really great shoes. Obviously, I’m not walking around snapping up the Louboutins of the art world, but I do believe in paying the worth of a piece and I will quite happily pay that little bit extra for processes such as screen-printing and great paper stock. In fact, this is one of the main things to be wary of – flimsy materials and bad printing processes – there are plenty of sites on the internet and the likes of Etsy that will essentially rip you off with a home printing jobby on shoddy paper.
Okay, it sounds like I’m making this hard already so if you’re already worried, bear with me, the tips are a-coming (as are the sneaky shots of some of my own pieces)!
Don’t Overthink it
It’s so easy to get lost in the articles about spotting the artwork to invest in and what to / what not to look out for. At the end of the day, if something speaks to you, buy it! You’re the one that has to hang it on the wall and look at it every day. Let’s say that you’re looking at a piece for £200. Think about how many years of enjoyment that you’re going to get out of that piece and if you’re contemplating hanging it in a central location, it’s 100% going to spark some serious joy over those years. That kind of money is easily spent on fashion these days, so save those pennies and put them towards a beautiful print to get those tongues wagging when people come into your home. £200 isn’t even much in the grand scheme of things but I firmly believe whether something is a tenner or ten grand, if it makes you happy (and you have the money), that’s all that counts.
Think outside the art world
Of course, it’s not really viable to just fill your home with the big, expensive stuff (unless it is, in which case, wanna hire me to do it?) but there are plenty of ways to get those ‘bigger’ pieces within your home. For example, if you visit an exhibition, pay a trip to the gift shop. So many institutions now create prints or at least postcards for you to purchase at a much more affordable rate. I have an ever-changing roster of postcards, greeting cards and small prints which I change up depending on my mood and while I’m still in need of a wire board, washi tape, the fridge door and the magnetic notice board do a great job of showcasing these things. Art really does not have to be expensive and if you’re like me and prefer an illustrative style, it won’t break the bank quite as much anyway.
Shop Online (but only in the tried and tested)
Like I said, you can easily be tricked into paying out for something not quite up to scratch, so reading reviews and looking out for materials/printing processes is vital. Always check for paper stock weight and paper type as well as whether it’s an original, screenprint, giclee print or risograph print – all of which should be great! Here are a few of the places which I shop online and can 100% recommend.
Skull & Heart
Skull & Heart is my absolute favourite place in the world to shop for prints and you’ve probably seen the guys mentioned on the blog countless times before. The quality of the prints is out of this world and this is where to go if you’re looking for something different, especially if from a kickass woman (although they do stock male artists too). Prices range from as little as £20 and every print features a thick paper stock, Skull & Heart embossing and a lot of care and attention – 10/10!
Print Club London
Print Club London is another fantastic source for a range of artists, with a wide range of prices too. The team are always on the hunt for up and coming artists and therefore work on some of the best collaborations, giving said artists a platform and allowing you to buy at reasonable prices. One of my favourite exhibitions Print Club work on is Summer Screen Prints, where a number of artists are assigned films to create artwork for and all prints are available for a mere £60 – I spy Hattie Stewart and personal favourite Joe Vass in the lineup this year so remember to get involved.
King & McGaw
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll have seen my collaboration with King & McGaw a while back and discovered the beautiful range of art and photography the company has on offer. I haven’t found anywhere as good to get high-quality prints from the greats and when the prices are so affordable for huge prints, you really can’t argue.
1 // Hippy Love by Marylou Faure | Skull & Heart | £70
2 // Banana by Andy Warhol | King & McGaw | £51 (framed)
3 // Cast Away by Joe Cruz | Print Club London | £150
4 // Sivill House by Oscar Francis | King & McGaw | £90 (framed)
5 // Cacti High by Joe Vass | Print Club London | £80
6 // Spring by Laura Callaghan | Skull & Heart | £30
7 // Love you to Death by Cassandra Yap and Dave Buonaguid | Print Club London | £130
8 // In the beginning by Michelle Collins | King & McGaw | £90 (framed)
9 // Hide by David Bray | Skull & Heart | £130
10 // Tropicana by Marcelina Amelia | Print Club London | £145
As well as shopping online, it’s important to get a feel of art in person and know your local shops and their owners well. Nothing beats someone knowing your style and letting you know when they bring in something perfect for your home. Check out some of my favourites below.
Just off the beaten Brighton track lies this colourful little gem on Church Street. Owned by graphic design duo, Sara and Patrick Morrissey, Unlimited Shop is a fun mix of graphic-inspired prints and amazing patterns. Sara has the eye for talent and if someone’s made it big, you can bet she was one of the original stockists. Monthly artist showcases bring to light some of Sara’s latest discoveries and if you look very closely, you’ll even scout out some self-designed pieces from Patrick. When you visit don’t forget to check out the pink print wall and the outside mural – whatta shop!
10 Church Street, Brighton BN1 1US
Laura Lea Design
Laura Lea is a specialist in art dealing and carries an eccentric range of pieces in her Leytonstone-based shop. There’s a real community feeling here and dozens of talented Leytonstone artists to discover as well as pieces from the big guns such as Archie Proudfoot and Rebecca Mason. Whatever your budget, Laura will be able to advise of the right pieces for you and even offers home installation to locals. Service with a smile!
1 Church Lane, London E11 1HE
Tidy Print is another Brighton-based treasure, this time based on the main path down to the lanes. The vibe here is pretty free, which means there’s a print for everyone and again for a number of different budgets. Owners, Jade and Dan, have an obvious passion for illustration and screen-printing, meaning lots of prints are limited editions and won’t last long. Pop in to arrange your own screen-printing workshop with them or just for a hug of their wonderful pooch, Kiki.
101 Gloucester Rd, Brighton BN1 4AP
I’ve long been aware of Jealous Gallery but hadn’t really taken the time to check it out properly until realising their quick turnaround on exhibitions and their constant support of young artists within the industry. Each year they award The Jealous Prize, producing a limited edition print with selected MA’s from London’s main Art Colleges. With two sites in London already, this is a great place to pick up high-quality prints from upcoming talent and take note of their exemplary exhibition setups.
53 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3PT
Hunt out your favourites at art fairs
A great way to discover new artists, gather inspiration and get a chance to meet your favourite artists is to scope out the art fairs that take over London around September/October time. This is your chance to spend a little more or just have some work to aspire to and save up for. Most of the below also have fairs around the country so do check out their websites for further information and watch out for the special ones like Secret 7″ that require a little bit of guess work – you could own someone huge for the small price of £50!
Shows to watch out for:
Affordable Art Fair | The Other Art Fair | Secret 7″ | Urban Art Fair | Moniker Art Fair | Art on a Postcard
Take just as much consideration into framing
Framing is obviously hugely important to artwork and while there’s no harm in a short-term solution from IKEA (their frames are actually pretty alright until the break), sometimes you’ve just gotta make sure that you’re doing your artwork justice. I would always recommend being a little creative with your hanging, especially for gallery walls, by introducing different types of frames and innovative ways to hang artwork. Bulldog clips are a great way change artwork up on the regular and clipboards are also pretty cool for smaller prints. Here’s a couple of my tried and tested framing solutions:
It’s pretty clear now that I like to shake things up in my home a lot and the folk at Moxon have created my ultimate print hanging solution with their magnetic frames. Crafted from sustainable wood (material of the moment Plywood if you’re asking), the frames incorporate hidden high-strength magnets that cleverly hold your print in place and allow you to rejig pretty darn easily – gone are the days of fiddling with the backs of frames and getting hairs caught in the glass! These frames are also ideal for larger format prints, coming in a range of sizes varying from A3 to A1. You’ll be stoked to know that this is also the original design (we don’t like copycats here) and comes in Black, White or Ply colouring – what do you think of mine?
King & McGaw Framing Service
Going back to King & McGaw, I’ve discovered they also offer a framing service where you can get a frame made to any size – hurrah! With two prints and frames at home, I know the quality of these frames and I can happily vouch for their sturdiness and overall look. Handmade in England and crafted by framers with over 30 years experience, you can choose your size, material and frame style and have it dispatched within three days, all for what seems like a very reasonable price for those awkward print sizes.
Artists to watch out for
Last but not least, I’ve made a run-down of some of my favourite artists and illustrators to watch out for. I hope you’ve discovered some new talent in this little guide but please do hit me up if you have any specific questions or wanna chat more.
official handprinted numbered edition Wytches gigposter by Petting Zoo Prints & Collectables
I really like that you recommend not overthinking things when it comes to buying art. After all, a lot of art depends on your own vision of what beauty is and stuff like that. Because of that it can be hard to rely on the articles that are talked about in this article about what kind of art to invest in because your tastes may differ.
Absolutely – it’s vital that you just love the work!
Amazing, Thanks for sharing this post Emma. Love the recommendations. Someone I can recommend Josh Dring he makes beautiful art prints on Etsy!
You made a good point that finding reputable sources is essential when planning to buy art. I’d like to start looking for good pieces soon because I want to hang them in the hallway of my home. That way, that area would feel a bit more alive.