How to Buy Art For Your Home

How to Buy Art for Your Home | Q&A with Collector House


A fabulous painting can add so much to a space. But how do you know where to start when trying to find the perfect piece for a room? I’m so excited to partner with art advisor, Jennifer Klos of Collector House, for today’s post. She’s answering all my questions about selecting and purchasing art. Plus, you’ll get a little tour of the Dallas Art Fair where art dealers and collectors from all the world converge (and where someone like me can only dream of buying a $300,000 piece of art!).

First, a little background on Jennifer. She and I attended Vanderbilt together and I am not exaggerating when I say she’s one of the most impressive (and nicest!) people I know. She’s accomplished so much in her short career as an art historian, curator, and now advisor. (I have no doubt Vanderbilt will be asking her to guest lecture soon!). Jennifer has an incredible business where she works with private clients, interior designers, and architects to research and buy art.

dallas art fair

Jennifer relocated to Dallas recently and we had so much fun reconnecting at the Dallas Art Fair last month. She introduced me to artists and gallery owners from all over the world, all the while answering some of my (novice!) questions about buying art. But, as she says, there are no silly questions when it comes to art. So join our conversation below as we explore the wonderful art at the Dallas Art Fair.

Lee: For people curious about buying art, where do you begin?

Jennifer: Buying art is fun! There are a lot of choices out there, which can be intimidating to navigate. Discover what you like. I call it the who/what/when/where/why of art collecting: who (artists), what (medium or type of art), when (historical or contemporary art), where (nationality or origin of artwork), and why (reasons for collecting).

I encourage my clients to see what inspires them each day. Get to know your local art scene, particularly museums, art galleries, auctions, dealers and artists. I love to encourage families to visit a museum together and see what their children enjoy. Do they look to the bright landscape paintings, abstract works or an interesting sculpture? May 18 happens to be Art Museum Day, so check your local art museum for special activities. Art galleries sell art and are a great way to learn more – ask questions. Don’t be afraid to inquire about the background and story of the artist and the particular piece. Art is storytelling!

dallas art fair

Lee: As an art advisor, how do you guide your clients?

Jennifer: My mantra is to buy art you love. I work with clients to determine what subject matter and medium they like. I present images and ask lots of questions – Do you enjoy art because of its image (realism vs. abstraction), materials, artistic process, story, or it’s simply nice to look at (which is perfectly fine!). Art collecting can vary from paintings, photography, and works on paper, to the field of decorative arts including furniture, textiles, glass, ceramics, and much more. There’s something for everyone!

Dallas Art Fair
(I loved these little collages on the right.)

Lee: Do you buy art to match your home?

Jennifer: Just remember, art doesn’t have to match your home, sofa or curtains. When you start collecting, you want to surround yourself with art you’ll want to live with. I believe that contemporary art can be displayed beautifully in a historic house and vice versa. A California contemporary home can contain a collection of historical art. Your grandmother’s Georgian buffet will look beautiful paired with a contemporary painting. I love to mix the old and new.

Think about your space and where art could bring joy. Start with where you spend time in your house. Do you spend the most time in your living room, kitchen, or children’s playroom? Do you have a reading nook or tv room that needs art?

Dallas Art Fair
Santa Fe artist Adrian Esparza isolated the threads from a serape to create this incredible piece.

Lee: How can you tell about the quality of art?

Jennifer: Great question and it’s something my collectors always ask. Buy original art when you can, which means one-of- a-kind. Technology has helped us explore art every day online and on social media, but remember that art is best seen in person. Sometimes size and scale can be misleading. If you are interested in something online, ask the website, gallery, or artist to email you a high resolution image. You can then see the surface of the work in detail. Quality and visual effect is somewhat arbitrary and lies in the eye of the beholder. There are many websites for buying art but ask questions before you purchase. Each website has a different manner of describing works of art, and terminology can vary, so be a savvy collector!

Lee: Do you need a certain budget to buy art?

Jennifer: Start with a budget in mind. There is a lot of great original art being created at all price points. Make it meaningful and gradual. It’s better to buy one or two quality works per month/year, rather than filling a house with quick, easy finds that may be trendy. Look for long-term purchases that your family will enjoy for years to come –art is one of the best heirlooms. I recently assisted a client to buy a painting for her grandson’s nursery. The gift of an original piece of art is the best way to teach children an appreciation of art. Remember that the contemporary art of today becomes the historical art of the future. Leonardo and Monet were once contemporary artists!

Thank you so much, Jennifer, for answering my questions! If you have questions about the pieces above or would like to learn more about Jennifer’s art advisory business, visit the Collector House website.Shw r

jennifer klos

Jennifer Klos is an art advisor and independent curator based in Dallas, Texas. She is President of Collector House Inc., an art advisory firm that assists private collectors in the acquisition of fine and decorative arts in the United States and Europe. She was formerly Curator at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art for eight years, organizing national and international exhibitions, expanding the presentation of decorative arts and design, and contemporary art installations. Jennifer earned her master’s degree in the history of decorative arts, design, and culture from the Bard Graduate Center ​in New York ​and her bachelor’s degree in Art History and French from Vanderbilt University. She most recently studied interior decoration at the Inchbald School of Design, London. An Oklahoma City native, Jennifer graduated from Casady School, where she took her first Art History class. ​Her current research includes the history of collecting and particularly the display of art and objects within interiors from 1600 to the present. Jennifer is a board member of the American Friends of Attingham, and a member of the Association of Art Museum Curators and the Costume Society of America.

Thank you Collector House for sponsoring this post!

Photos: Megan Weaver

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