Humans are inherently territorial creatures; we like to mark our space as our own. Since the dawn of time, humans have been using wall art to personalize the places we live. From cave paintings to movie posters, wall art has made us feel at home and served as a means to express who we are. For anyone looking to decorate a new space, wall art must be a key consideration. Here, we’ll go over the basics of wall art and what you need to know to create an intimate and intriguing interior.
What Is Wall Art?
In the most general sense, wall art is any artistic object that can be hung or mounted on a wall. It can be sculptures, mirrors, shelves, light fixtures, posters, paintings, photographs, and just about anything else you can think of.
Wall art is meant to customize your space according to your own unique interests, but it also serves a more pragmatic aesthetic purpose. Walls take up to two thirds of every room.. Bare walls can make a space feel sterile and uninviting, and wall art serves to create a sense of intimacy and welcome. Decorated walls make a space feel fuller and can revolutionize both the way you live and how you interact with the world around you.
Types of Wall Art
As said, practically anything can be wall art, but in this article, we’ll be focusing on the major categories of paintings, posters, and photographs. These types flow with the natural contours of the wall and are the most common and widely available forms of wall art. They’re also the easiest to mount. There are infinite varieties of wall art out there, but the right piece (or pieces) for you will depend on your own personal tastes.
Wall Art Paintings
Paintings are the oldest form of wall art, present in practically every culture across the world. Some people prefer to have only original works, true one-of-a-kind products of master painters. While these works are great story pieces, obtaining them can be expensive. High-quality prints and reproductions of famous paintings are available all over the internet in a variety of mounting and framing options. You could obtain a Monet, a Magritte, or an O’Keeffe with little difficulty and display your favorite works without the trouble (or impossibility) of obtaining an original.
Wall Art Posters
Posters have also been a popular choice for wall art in recent decades. Movie posters let you publicize your love of high cinema or membership in a unique fandom. Art and music festivals will also usually produce unique posters for their events, allowing you to tell others about your social and cultural life. Famous artworks are also produced in poster form, saving you some of the trouble of mounting a large canvas and allowing for easy storage.
Photography Wall Art
Photography is a staple of interior design, whether it be personal pieces or fine art. Snapshots of your own life can make a space yours and provide a nexus for conversation and reminiscing amongst guests and friends. Fine art photographs can allow you to display the work of greats like Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, or Sally Mann. The right photographic artwork can have as much or more impact than a reproduction painting or print, since professional photographers often formulate their work specifically to be wall-mounted—sparing no expense to produce the highest quality pieces.
These are the three basic categories of wall art, and anyone looking to decorate a new space should begin here for the ubiquity of options and their ease of installation.
Wall Art in Interior Design
So how do you choose which wall art is right for you? Selecting wall art isn’t just about seeking out attractive images, it’s an integral part of interior design. The best pieces won’t just look pretty, they’ll communicate and harmonize with the rest of the space—the color scheme, the room size and function, the furniture and its arrangement, and the lighting. This may seem rather technical, but going into the process with a few good tips can make a big difference.
The Color Scheme
All well-decorated rooms have some sort of a color scheme. This can be very specific, with only two or three colors making up all the furnishings and decor, or more broad, such as warm colors or cool colors. A good piece of wall art will adhere to the extant color scheme. While choosing a strikingly dissonant color for a piece can create a focal point, it can also be distracting, and privileged flow and balance will usually create a more cohesive space.
Location, Location, Location
Some kinds of spaces are better fit for certain kinds of art, and the right piece in the right place can make all the difference in the world. Some of this comes down to common sense. Hallways and alcoves are transitory places, and not the place for large and impressive pieces. Similarly, kitchens are not the best place for fine wall art because of the risk of soiling and the high heat and humidity. Other considerations are less obvious. Art is meant to be seen and admired—it shouldn’t be obscured by lamps and tall pieces of furniture or be placed in locations where people are unlikely to see it. As well, pieces should be properly illuminated so they can be seen, but natural sunlight can damage art. The ideal location for a piece of wall art is somewhere visible, safe, and otherwise bare.
What Is The Theme?
One of the most important things to think about is how the subject or style of a piece of wall art fits in with the rest of your decor. Classical pieces like well-known works of art tend to fit better in more intimate spaces, their complex subject matter resonating with the fullness and coziness of a warmer room. On the other hand, more spare and modern arrangements often call for abstract or experimental pieces. The possible combinations are endless, and once you see a piece in a space, you’ll know whether it belongs there or not.
How to Choose the Size of Your Wall Art
Another important consideration for any new piece of wall art is how big it should be and how it should be positioned. As a general rule, wall art should take up 60-75% of the empty space it’s set in. This quota can be met by many small pieces or by one large piece. Small pieces—what’s known as a “gallery wall”—can make a space feel more warm and intimate, while large pieces can create a more effective focal point and make a more dramatic visual statement. Large pieces also offer more detail and offer more to look at and admire for both owners and guests. Finally, a single large piece can often end up being cheaper than many smaller pieces, depending on subject and quality.
Nature Photography Wall Art
Photography has become one of the most popular choices for wall art, offering both diverse subject matter and extensive options for sizing. Abstract photographs can serve as wonderful conversation pieces and are the ideal choice in an aesthetic climate focused around minimalism and the popular Scandinavian modernism. Landscape photographs are a spectacular choice for those looking to lighten up a space. They can make a room feel more bright and open and tap into the current fascination with travel and wanderlust. Finally, current professional photographers are dedicated to high standards of production, creating pieces of the highest quality and craftsmanship. While all the wall art on Etsy and Amazon may serve the aesthetic needs of a space, professional photography is one of the few ways people can still easily procure a piece of true fine art for their homes.
All in all, you know what you want for your space and it’s up to you to turn it into someplace you enjoy being. Nonetheless, we have all internalized, to an extent, the unspoken rules of design and aesthetics, and keeping these tips in mind will help you to build an environment both pleasing to you and stimulating and intriguing to friends, family, and guests.