Sunday, May 15, 2016

Art Collecting Considerations

When it comes to collecting art, I wear many hats.  As a professional artist, my sustainability depends on sales, and fortunately for me, I have a large group of avid fans (more on this later).   As an educator, I teach professional development workshops to an array of students-from aspiring hobbyists to creative entrepreneurs-on how to earn a living as an artist, i.e. how to sell one’s art.  And as a lover of handmade things, I have my own sizable collection of fine arts and crafts (more on this later).

For many, art can feel intimidating and unapproachable.  But these days, everybody has the opportunity to be surrounded by one-of-a-kind treasures no matter their budget or knowledge of art.  Art collecting doesn’t have to be about auctions or galleries.  It’s that “love at first site” moment while checking out a craftsperson at the local farmer’s market, visiting your neighborhood art weekend, or browsing one of the many commerce websites established for handmade items. 
                         visit weekend art events: you support local small businesses and invest in your
                               community while finding one-of-a-kind treasures for your work or living space!

And that is what it is all about: love.  Sure we want our living spaces to broadcast a perfected blend of sophistication, good taste, and trend.  But in the end, no one wants to live in a designer showroom.  Our spaces are our sanctuaries and therefore should be filled with what defines who we are and what we cherish.
                                                       an example of my mixed media paintings. customers collect my work 
                                          for wall display or for grouping on a shelf, table, desk or mantle.  
                                                                        for more, visit a2n2koon.

Because my paintings are my product, I do not display them in my home.  Instead every wall and flat surface hosts a collection of sculptures, photographs, assemblages and paintings.  There’s the mixed media wall piece crafted out of recycled bottle tops and soda cans that I found at a harvest festival in small town, Tennessee.   There’s the carved wood yak my husband purchased on his trek in the Himalayas.  Our collection is eclectic, yet every piece uniformly depicts the story of our life.  From random trinkets picked up during vacations to a selection from the artists we adore, it all inevitably pieces together our moments and memories.  What makes the art even more precious is knowing that we are its sole keepers.  No one else in the universe owns a replica of these unique works.  The original price tags range from $2 to $2000.  And you know what?  With the exception of perhaps two of our art purchases, nothing else in our collection will ever increase in monetary value.  And that suits us just fine.

There is the misconception that art is too expensive.  I have already listed some ways you can get in on collecting art.  You can purchase something original for virtually the same amount of money a mass-produced item would cost.  When teaching, I encourage artists to offer a wide range of price points, as I do.  Recently a larger painting of mine was on display at a local gallery.  The asking price was $2000.  A few days after the gallery’s opening reception I saw a limited edition print of mine ($15) at one of my online shops had sold.  The customer emailed me to say she had fallen in love with my painting at the gallery but because-at least for the moment-it was beyond her price range, she had decided to start collecting my work by purchasing a print.  I thought this customer had a great attitude about art collecting and had readily devised a fantastic solution. 

I mentioned I have avid fans.  I am fortunate to earn a living as an artist based largely on the loyalty of my collectors.  I do not personally know everyone who collects my work, but it has been as much fun for me to watch their collections develop as a body of work as it is for them to collect my work.  And in every case, the collecting is based on a love of my art.  I like to think of it as a form of adoption: The art speaks to my customers in a profoundly personal way, and it is a connection they cannot live without.  That connection is for me the greatest benefit of being an artist.  During a recent workshop, a student asked if I remember sales transactions based on the amount of money a customer paid me.  I honestly answered no, I don’t, but I do recall every moment a customer has an emotional reaction to my work.

Speaking of cost, don’t underestimate how little you have to do to revive a space.  After all, investing in one or two pieces of art is a heck of a lot cheaper than a major overhaul.  I recently interviewed Andrea Canty and Allison Tilly Carswell of Red Door DesignWorks, an interior design company I partner with providing ready-made and commissioned paintings for their clients.  Here’s what they had to say about art and its ability to reboot a room.

Is it possible to change just one thing and still give the entire space a new feel?  
Yes! Finding that perfect piece of art is probably top of the list. It can transform a room's color palette, vibe and scale. 
What recommendations do you have when it comes to buying art?
We like to keep it local. We like to help people understand that great art is available all around, and you don't need to spend a fortune to get it. We appreciate makers like you (as in me, your humble writer, a2n2/Anna Koon), who have great style and quality and make products financially accessible.

So, where do you start? I recommend keeping it in your comfort zone.  If art galleries are for you, go for it! Prefer to stroll through art fairs? There’s one just about every weekend.  Want to wrap your head around art collecting at your computer?  The art world in every respect is right at your fingertips.  And if you are looking for a good jumping-off point, might I recommend invaluable, a treasure trove of information about culture and collecting.  They recently posted a great little article about how to start a fine art collection.

I hope this has been helpful.  And encouraging.  Make it your mission to find art that touches your soul and speaks to your heart.  It is never too early to start collecting!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Interview with Red Door DesignWorks

Arlington, Massachusetts based Red Door DesignWorks is one of my partners. They provide a2n2 original art for their clients, including commissions.  Now that Spring is here, I asked designers, Andrea Canty and Allison Tilly Carswell a few questions about freshening up your work or living space. 

What makes Red Door DesignWorks different from other interior design companies?

Our collaboration with one another, and in turn, our collaboration with our clients. For 80% of our jobs, we are working in real time, on location, with our clients. It creates a flexible, dynamic and fun experience. We're often told people get a kick out of watching us work.

photo courtesy of  (photographer Shelley Zatsky)

What tips can you give people wanting to “freshen up” a work or living space on a budget?

Our first recommendation is always to rethink how you are using what you already own. We call this Room Redesign. We like to move around furnishings and art before recommending a new paint color--which is typically the first thing people do when they are looking to "freshen up." Waiting to select paint is wise, because you may end up changing rugs, artwork and other items in your rooms. You want your paint to complement everything. Our clients really appreciate this approach; it often saves them thousands of dollars.

Is it possible to change just one thing and still give the entire space a new feel? 
What would be some examples?

 Yes! Finding that perfect piece of art is probably top of the list. It can transform a room's color palette, vibe and scale. After art, installing properly sized furniture is very important. For example, if you have a sofa that is either too large OR too small in a space, it will affect your sense of how large your room is. Another thing that is quick and easy is creating a gallery wall or an accent wall with paint or wallpaper. It is important to be selective about where you install these, but it can have a big impact.

How do you balance design trends and staying true to your customer’s essence? 
Is there a way to incorporate a bit of both?

We are known for our modern eclectic style. What this means, basically, is that we like to blend all styles and keep the end result looking chic and of the moment. Some of the most effective pieces are not on trend at all. Rather, they are truly reflective of our clients' personalities and family life. 

What recommendations do you have when it comes to buying art?

We like to keep it local. We like to help people understand that great art is available all around, and you don't need to spend a fortune to get it. We appreciate makers like you, who have great style and quality and make products financially accessible. It's also vital when acquiring art, to know clearly what size you are looking for. If is difficult to envision what a piece of a certain size would look like, we encourage people to tape it off on their wall using masking tape. 

You two are very craftsy.  How does your appreciation for art play a role in your design projects?

Thank you! It helps us bring an open mind to the potential for a job. Really being able to imagine what COULD be enables us to provide clients with options and creative approaches to their spaces.  

At times you select artwork for clients.  Do you have any examples of clients who were hesitant at first about the original art you wanted to include in their space, only to fall in love with it later?

One of our guiding principles is to establish clear communication and a trusting relationship with our clients. First and foremost we are listeners. Secondly, we are facilitators of the client's vision and interests. Directed in this way, we consider the process collaborative and there are typically no surprises when we are working with clients. 

If you live in the Boston area and are interested in learning more about Red Door DesignWorks, contact 617 733 2336

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Enjoy the New Spring 2016 Collection from a2n2

I have to admit I love winter.  Though I realize winter has not made her final exit-there still may be more to come-this has felt a bit underwhelming, especially after last year!  However, the brighter skies and louder birdsong of late has been wooing me.  My most recent paintings have been reflecting my current crush on Spring.  Pastel colors and sweet scenes appear throughout the latest works.  They can soften and cheer up any space.  Many of them would look wonderful in a child's bedroom, playroom or nursery.  Enjoy this little video: Spring 2016 Hope, if nothing else, it puts you in a springtime mood!