Tips for choosing meaningful artwork

I have one rule for artwork in my house and it’s pretty simple: only have artwork that means something to someone in the house.

True to the name of this blog, the artwork in my house is a very eclectic collection. They are pieces collected over time that I’ve been drawn to at specific points in my life for whatever reason. Sure, I have some pieces that I just love for the way they look, but most have deeper meaning. Having artwork that you are connected to doesn’t have to cost a fortune—and a lot of times it costs nothing at all. I put together some tips for where to look for artwork that is deeply personal and I hope that it can add some meaning and sentiment to anyone’s home.

The first place I love to look is the past.

My favorite piece from my collection is a black and white photograph of an old bar. My dad snapped the photo in the 80’s and at my wedding reception he realized, “hey, I’ve been here before”, and later dug the photo out of storage. The photo itself is unremarkable, but the weird coincidence that his old college lunch spot transformed into the hip wine bar where I celebrated my marriage is so special.

I know not everyone has big boxes of photos from their dad’s old photography days, but looking at old family photos can be a great place to look for heirlooms that can become artwork. Think outside of photos as well! Old recipes, books, and really any printed ephemera can become artwork. The stories that come with these little scraps from the past make them meaningful and worthy of being on display.

Look at specific locations.

Chances are there are specific places that already mean a great deal to you. Whether it’s your hometown or a vacation you haven’t gotten the chance to go on yet, locations can be a great starting point for looking for artwork.

I have a vintage map of my neighborhood that I got as a digital file from my local library. We also have a 1960’s illustrated plot plan of a chemical plant that my husband used to work at. More recently, I purchased a print of wildflowers from our area that I found by searching for “[Location] art prints” on Etsy.

I’ve also been putting together a robust collection of free downloadable artwork and have found myself drawn to certain pieces that I’m drawn to just because they remind me of where I’m from or places I’ve visited.

Fiber art from Kait Hurley art

Develop relationships.

Some of my favorite artwork has little to do with the actual artwork and is a lot more about my connection to the artist. I’ve collected a few pieces from college classmates, and have also fallen in love with artists through Instagram. Following along has helped me gain insight into the day to day behind creators artwork as well as their personality. Knowing where things come from means a lot to me, and it might to you too!

Remember that art is more than decoration.

Meaningful favorite pieces of artwork are functional objects that I use daily. Handmade mugs, vases, even lighting can immediately pack your home with meaning. I love having little treasures sprinkled throughout my daily routines and it helps add personality!

If you have no idea where to start looking for artwork, I promise that if you keep an eye out for artwork, something you love and feel inspired by will come along. Set a budget and spend the money when something comes up. Good art takes time and it also takes time to find.

This post was written for the  Collected Eclectic blog.

Collected Eclectic was a passion project focused on recording the process as Grace and Michael van Meurer transformed their builder grade home in to something special.

124 blog posts were published between 2018 and 2021. Explore the complete Collected Eclectic archive here

Learn more about the project here

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