• Wilamina Russo

Where to start when giving art

The gift of art is a great idea, but how do you go about it?

I heard the Jumbled podcast with Rachel Castle where Castle said one of the frequent requests she gets is from husbands. It will be a week out from their wife's (insert birthday, anniversary, major celebration) and could she do a piece for them? Ahem, uhm, how long have you know about this impending date sir?

Great idea. Just poorly executed.

I had a similar experience recently when a friend of a friend was looking for a birthday gift for his wife. He wanted a piece of art and had two weeks. Fortunately, he lives in Sydney so could access a number of great artists and galleries pretty quickly.

The questions I asked him, and the ones you need to know before you even START your search are as follows:

  • budget - this will determine whether you are looking at emerging, mid career or established artists; decorative or fine art; prints or originals; hand made or commercial production,

  • medium - do they like ceramics, are they after a painting, or a sculpture, or maybe a piece of textile art,

  • style - in the realm of paintings this means do they like landscapes, abstract, figurative, still life (the list goes on). Or maybe colours is a better way to focus, so you want to know if they like bright, bold colours or maybe muted, tonal, neutrals,

  • other artists - this is great way to gauge what someone might like, if you know they like or have bought another artist previously, then you have a great north star to follow

  • delivery - do you want to have it on the day to gift then and there, or are you wanting to commission a piece and maybe just give them a certificate that says "A beautiful piece of art is on its way",

  • returns policy - if you are going to rush in and buy something that you aren't 100% sure on (which I don't recommend but hey, I can't stop you), find out if the gallery, or artist, will accept a return or swap.

Fortunately for my friend of a friend with two weeks to go, he was able to tell me his wife liked and owned a piece by Laura Jones. He knew the budget and he ideally wanted to be able to give it to her on her birthday.

With all that in mind I pointed him in the direction of two Sydney based artists with work in a similar vein to Jones. He showed his wife the work of each artist under the guise of buying a wedding present for her sister (smart move!).

The end result?

"Absolute winner!" (Those are his words.)

He bought work from each artist - for his wife AND for his sister-in-law as a wedding present.

With a little research and a bit of help, hours were saved scrolling through the endless options that are now available for lovers of art. So before you launch yourself ask yourself the above, and maybe give yourself more than a couple of weeks.

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