So, This Is How We Do It (good luck getting that out of your head). In a nutshell, this is a chapter of the blog where we get all up in your space from afar, taking your home styling dilemmas and putting our own wildly different spin on them. If you want to get involved, drop either of us a message on Instagram, or reply to one of our weekly shout-outs in stories. We’re not professional stylists – we just love it when things looks good, so this is a totally subjective, personal look at how one minimalist and one maximalist approach the same subject.
Our first question is close to both of our hearts and comes from @sineaddoyle, who asks, ‘How do you start curating art and prints for a gallery wall, and should I go DIY or professional framing?’. Needless to say, we both go about this in veeeery different ways.
Intro to Emma:
I’m a planner, through and through. I will not make a design decision unless it’s thought-through and weighed up and feels positive. Sounds like fun, right guys? Let’s do a spreadsheet together sometime! Guys..?
Intro to Robyn:
I was brought up with gallery walls everywhere so was always going to be of the opinion the more on the walls, the better. I’m mainly a freehand scatter-hanger who goes on my gut so I’m basically Emma’s worst nightmare.
Emma on themes:
I very much buy art to fit into a specific look and feel. I’ve seen pieces that I absolutely love, but I’ll only buy them if I’ve got a place I know they’ll fit into – in a tiny crap flat, everything has to really work hard and work together. This means I generally buy based on colour, rather than theme. So the gallery wall in our open-plan living space is all green, black and white, with just a hint of Nic Cage. I love playing into the crap flat’s colour scheme to keep things cohesive and calm. That doesn’t mean it’s all serious, though. It’s about setting out an overall look and feel, so that when you get up close you begin to see the little quirks that make it personal. 1996 Newcastle squad, anyone?
Top tip: prints with lots of white space break up a gallery wall really well, and make it easy to add touches of colour here and there, if that’s your thing.
Robyn on themes:
I buy pieces based on nothing other than pure unadulterated love. I don’t really ever think of where they’ll go but I know that my style fits into embarrassingly predictable parameters so it’s likely that what I get is going to fit. I love art that tells a story and that’s how I work out what goes where. Is it a musical icon, a rainbow screen-print or typography? That’ll go in the lounge. Oil portrait? That’s be the spare room. Illustration or collage with a fairytale feel? That’ll be the landing then. So, I work out a narrative between the pieces that go together and away we go! Look for those binding themes, whether it’s subject matter, style or hue and you’ll be able to spin a tale that looks splendid on your walls too (you can eat the sick rhyme I dropped in that last line for breakfast, thank you very much).
Emma on getting started:
I’m gonna start here by saying I’ve done bad gallery walls. Where I’d seen something somewhere else and thought it was for me, but ended up trying to ape somebody else’s style and getting it all wrong. Wrong for me, that is – if you love what you have on your walls, it can’t really be bad*. So, my first port of call is to not rush it; do some research; find out what you really love. Because banging a big old hole in your wall is a commitment, right? Hit up Pinterest and #gallerywall on Instagram, trawl print shops online and bookmark the things you think you might like, wait until you have three or four things and then work out whether they go together. Ultimately, the things you’re drawn to and can’t stop thinking about will be the things that’ll make you happy every time you see them at home.
*Unless it’s anything about not liking Nic Cage .
Robyn on getting started:
Just buy things you love. And if you can’t afford the things you love then photograph them and trawl about online until you find something similar that you also love. Don’t be afraid of art, it’s meant to be fun so go on a little inspiration adventure picking your dream pieces, whether that’s in commercial galleries, art fairs, at exhibitions or on the gram. Just cos you can’t have that Schiele in real life doesn’t mean you can’t find something in that style so keep them peeled. Make sure you keep track of what you like, maybe a folder in your phone, and once you’ve got a couple in there, you’ll start to see what goes together.
Emma on finding stuff:
As a terribly shy introvert, shopping in person is my worst nightmare, which means I do pretty much all of my shopping online, and that goes for art too. I’ve had one or two errors with colour-matching, but generally it’s always worked out for me. I find a lot of awesome artists by falling into Instagram holes (see John Pedder, Vontreuba, Jessalyn Brooks and Jan Skacelik), or from Etsy holes, or the feeds of people I follow. So basically, fall into a hole and you’ll find loads of art. In fact, I found at least one thing I now need while writing this post. eBay is a treasure trove, as well. If you know you love mid-century design, or dogs, for example, type ‘mid-century posters’ or ‘dog art’ in and just keep scrolling until you find something you like. Seeing loads of stuff you hate really sharpens your like-o-metre. Some of my favourite pieces have come from eBay, like my sad horse, or have been made by loved ones, like the little pink flowers, by Mr Crap Flat’s Mum. I think it’s about being being on the lookout wherever you go, being ruthless about the edit, and really loving the pieces you buy. There are also a GAZILLION print shops you can look to for inspiration. Try Project Nord or Desenio for really affordable options. Desenio often have discount codes live with various Instagram accounts, so keep an eye out there. And with The Printable Studio, you can just print stuff out at home (the introvert’s dream).
Robyn on finding stuff:
So I’m always looking for art. Like I’m always looking for clothes. And a snack. I really rate art fairs and there’s a few about – I go places like the Affordable Art Fair and The London Illustration Fair to try and find new work I love. I also do a lot of trawling the web and spend hours on London Print Club, King and McGaw and Art Republic. I am physically incapable of walking past an art shop so keep your eyes peeled for your local alternative to Jealous or Nelly Duff for a nice overview of contemporary art in your area. I also ask people all the time where things are from, whether it’s in their house or on social because, you know, if you don’t ask you don’t get (to this day no-one has ever given me a piece of art just because I asked from where it’s from). Finally, don’t be scared to ask about a commission if artists do that – I’ve got a few bits I’ve commissioned from an oil painting of my husband to a be-glittered mirror of my Nan’s favourite phrase and nothing I’ve had made had cost wildly more than an original. Oh HANG ON. How did I forget that you all need to head to eBay, set an alert for the kind of thing you’re after whether that’s ‘oil portraits’ or ‘Beatles poster‘ or ‘Ben Eine print’ and check that puppy every couple of days. You’ll have a bargain in no time.
Robyn on framing and hanging:
I usually just clear a massive space on the floor and lay things out until it’s positioned how I want. It’s as simple as that. If it’s a small wall, I just pop them straight up based on eye and the pattern I’ve made. If it’s a big one and I can be arsed I cut out all the shapes in brown paper and Blue-tac them up before for accuracy. I always factor in an extra hour for the tremendous row I invariably have with Jamie for not knowing his left actually means my left.
When it comes to frames I do group by colour, or a couple of colours but I go loco with style to mix it up if the vibe is right. I get a lot from Ikea but also love tracking down a big gold number from eBay. My dad, who is actually called Andy and is, coincidentally, really handy resizes if needed and adds the artist’s glass and backing board for me cos he’s a total G. You could also do this via a framer for a cheaper way to get a really knockout frame. N.B I do not know if a framer would advise on resizing so call them before buying your frame.
Emma on framing and hanging:
I am militant about hanging pictures. They need to be equally-spaced or I’m going to spend all my time looking at them and wanting to fix them. It’s a sickness, ok? So for me, it’s about different shapes and sizes arranged in a completely organised, uniform manner. Same goes for mounts – if you’ve seen my Instagram, you’ll know I love a bit of white space between images. Helps keep everything clean fresh. The framing I’m a little more lax about. Ha ha, only joking – I’m not relaxed about anything. Frames need to match the gallery wall, so I’m likely to have all black on one wall, or all wooden on another, because, guys, organisation is fun. I generally buy my frames and mounts from eBay, or somewhere inexpensive like frames.co.uk, secure everything to the mount with lightly applied masking tape and wang ’em up. And on that note: a brief ‘praise be’ to Command Strips. If you’re renting like I am, they are a life-saver. Like sticky-back velcro with super-human strength, that you simply pull off when you’re ready to move out. Damage-free awesomeness.
Emma’s top picks:
Here are some of the arty bits on my current wish list
Robyn’s top picks
To show you how simple it can be – I gave myself half an hour online and found a few bits to show how you could recreate the vibe of my landing gallery. eBay items can be found by search, like the Arthur Rackham prints, sites like Surface View print any bloody size you like so help if you need something of a certain scale i.e your big central piece (and they do kick ass murals to boot) and Etsy is a hotbed of affordable art. Easy peasy.
Do you have any top gallery wall tips? Artists you love? Let us know in the comments, because we are aaaaaall ears.