How to Have “The Talk”

When I speak with interior designers and describe what we do—create custom art for their designs—the response is almost always a one-two punch. First, a designer will say that he or she LOVES art.

But then comes the harder part. So many interior designers see art as a problem. Their clients balk at the expense; they don’t have the vision; they don’t want to deal.

But why should what’s on the wall be less of a designer’s concern than, say, a sofa or a rug on the floor?

How can you successfully guide your clients toward the art that you think your design needs? Here are a few ideas for how to bring art into the picture before your clients exhaust their budgets, themselves and you.

Patch of Blues • Oil on canvas • 24 x 24'


(Detail) Patch of Blues • Oil on canvas • 24 x 24″

Don’t treat art as an afterthought. Instead, consider it as an important design element and bring it into the conversation early in the design process. Help your client understand its value in highlighting an aspect of a room—or the entire room and beyond. It can also serve to direct the eye to details of the colors, shapes and textures of your design.

Do let a piece of art help define the mood of the space you’re trying to create. Different colors can uplift or tone down, help warm or cool a room. So can composition. Does it draw you in in an exciting way, or offer you something soothing to sink into?

Offer your client a narrative that describes why you think a particular piece of art belongs in a particular setting. Talking about a painting—why, for example, the palette, composition and texture will enhance a space—gives your clients a framework and context for thinking about a piece that they might otherwise not know how to look at. For many designers, this comes naturally. For others, well, give me a call!