Creative Experts Help You Choose High Quality Artwork (Part Two of Three)

Three Embrace Creatives artist experts teach you what to look for and stay away from when buying art online and in person.

Recently, I found artwork via my instagram account which I felt would be a good fit for a client so I visited the gallery in person. Wow, seeing the work in person was a much different experience than viewing it on my phone. Some of the pieces were not produced as well as I thought.  I left the exhibit underwhelmed and disappointed that I could not share anything with my client to solve her design needs.

We all know seeing art in person is best but since we cannot always do that, I asked three EC artists who are experts in their medium to share their thoughts on things like; material types, the best varnish, what to look for in a fiber piece, and how to protect your art purchase once you get it home.  

In the first article, our paper expert, Ray Beldner shared what type of materials a buyer should look for when searching for high quality, original paper artwork. This article features textiles and fiber art like quilting and weaving.

I’m super proud of the professional artists I curate into my Embrace Creatives showroom and I’m not surprised that they took the time to help you choose high quality artwork that, if properly cared for, will last decades. Below you will find part two of a three-part series.

Time for fiber.

Debbie Gifka is an Ann Arbor, MI based textile artist, teacher and author whose work, spanning a 20 year career, focuses on the power, elegance, and serenity of the line in a minimalist style with a limited color palette. I asked her to put together what to look for when sourcing fiber artwork for your clients.

DG: What makes quality textile art?  Art made using quilting techniques is my specialty so I will focus my thoughts on that type of work. Fiber artists worth their salt, would not sell artwork with any of the following issues;

A good amount of the stitching must go through all the layers of the work – meaning the stitching should be visible on the front and back of the piece. If you’re able to view the artwork in person, ask if you can see the back. If the artwork is online and there is no “back” image, request one from the artist or the host company.

- High Quality Art 2
Lines #1 / 40″H X 40″W / Cotton fabric, batting, thread / $1000

DG: Stitching and weaving should be close enough together to protect the integrity and stability of the work. Fibers that are too far apart (generally more than 4-5″ apart) may cause the artwork to sag after being hung on a wall for a long time.  One caveat here is that sometimes the artist incorporates a loose design as their studio brand and aesthetic. Those artworks should be handled and displayed more carefully and in fact, it’s important that the artist ships hanging and product care instructions along with their art.

The fiber piece should hang reasonably flat and straight when displaying on a wall unless it is clearly not intended to be that way. If the one side of the artwork slants off to the side then the stitching or weaving was not done professionally and is not even around the piece. In my mind, the slanting, although not constituting “damage”, the quality is compromised and is cause for return.

The hanging mechanism on any work larger than about 20″ should go all the way across the back.  You want the weight of the work distributed evenly so the artwork will hang properly for years to come, keeping the physical integrity of the artwork the same as the first day it was crafted. Usually this is accomplished by a hanging sleeve. Some works may also have a hidden sleeve and rod along the bottom edge, weighing it down, keeping the artwork taught and level. 

One of Andrea’s Embrace Creatives fiber artists, Cathy Jacobs, has her metal hanging mechanisms made specifically for her work because her weavings are three different panels hung, one in front of another and they need to be set at a particular distance to showcase the desired “look”.

If you have ever purchased artwork that wasn't crafted in the high quality manner you expected, what happened?

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This article was written by Andrea Bogart, professional artist, lead art consultant and the founder of Embrace Creatives, matching you with original art to love.

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