Home is Where the Art is: 10 Tips on Curating a Personal Collection

Several years ago, Tze Chun, then an artistic director for a dance company, noticed something curious: Even though she and her friends often visited art galleries and museums, none of them owned original artwork. “For a new art collector, galleries can be difficult to navigate and sometimes intimidating,” Chun recalls. “I wanted to shake up the traditional gallery model and help more people discover art.”

In 2011, Chun founded Uprise Art, an online art gallery that connects novice and experienced collectors with emerging contemporary artists. On its website, individuals can browse through hundreds of available artworks—and see the list prices—as well as read interviews with the artists and take virtual tours of their studios. Users can also connect with an art advisor, free of charge, who will curate and present a personalized selection of works based on their space, style and budget.

For Taylor Ross, “a young but avid art collector,” Uprise Art helped find the perfect pieces for her bright and modern apartment in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood. Three of Andy Mattern’s portraits of remote controls were selected for the living room, and two of Anna Beeke’s forest photos for the dining room.

Uprise Art has also become a key resource for interior design studios, such as Ishka Designs, which listed the gallery as one of its favorite home services in an article on New York magazine’s The Cut.

“Creating an artful and collected home can seem like a daunting task, but it does not need to be,” Chun says.

Here Chun offers her tips on how to start and curate an art collection for the home:

Tze Chun of Uprise Art

Photo by Megan Weaver

Collect what you love:

Buy things you love—don’t just try to fill a space. “You can collect only one type of art, or an eclectic mix of mediums and styles. There are no steadfast rules on which rooms to start with, or where to allocate your budget. The only thing that matters is that the artwork makes you happy in your home.”

Experiment and expand:

Use art to add new dimensions to your design style, even if you stick to Scandinavian, Industrial or another aesthetic. “Art that offers a little surprise can keep your home from looking like a catalog shoot and will make your collection feel developed over time rather than off-the-shelf. Artwork can complement your existing decor, but remember that collecting art is a great opportunity to try something new as well.”

Timeless Scandinavian artwork

Photo by Francesco Bertocci

Keep it timeless:

Think beyond which artists are hot or trendy. “The goal is to build a collection that can grow with you, so select artwork that speaks to you rather than what’s popular at the moment. Art is a great investment because of the value it provides you everyday, by improving your living space and offering daily inspiration.”

Make the hallway a showcase:

Hallways offer a great opportunity to hang a series of small works that draw your attention from one end to the other. “Avoid large pieces in the hallway since it’s hard to stand back far enough to see the works in their entirety. The end of the hallway is a great spot for a bold piece to punctuate the space.”

Using artwork as a showcase to punctuate a space

Photo by Jen Brister

Be an informed buyer:

Don’t be afraid to inquire about the difference between a litho and an edition or what constitutes an archival pigment print. “The more you learn about the artist, the artwork’s story, and how it’s made, the more you can connect with the work. Friends are bound to ask questions about your artwork too, so it’s a great conversation starter.”

Blend original art with prints:

Mix and match original artwork with posters and prints. “You can incorporate old favorites, such as personal photos and mementos, by framing and hanging them properly. People often think that prints are the only affordable option, but that’s not the case. ”

Using light and color to accentuate art in a space

Photo by Genevieve Garruppo

Set aside time to collect:

Decide on a budget and then make time to look at art. “If you don’t have time to make it out to the galleries, start your search online. Read art news websites and follow curators and blogs to familiarize yourself with what is out there.”

Collect art and frames that are timeless

Photo by Genevieve Garruppo

Find frames that last:

Custom framing is a must for photographs and works on paper to ensure your art is preserved and protected. “A good frame not only keeps your art in pristine condition, but also enhances the work without distracting from it.”

Embrace change:

Rearranging your artwork is the easiest way to refresh the feel of your home. “Have fun with new hangs and enjoy experiencing your artwork in different contexts.”

Let the right one in:

Take the same approach to discovering new art as you would to search for a home. “When researching artwork, look at the construction and how it’s made. Think of the design and aesthetics of the work, its history and the period in which it was made. Above all, how do you experience the work, and how does it resonate with you emotionally and conceptually?

“There are endless options out there when it comes to art, so don’t settle. And when you do love fall in love, make it yours. There is only one of that artwork that exists, and once it’s sold, you’re out of luck. I always advise collectors to sleep on it, but that if they keep thinking about a piece of art, that’s when they know it’s the right one.”