Friday, April 12, 2013

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I received a lovely email recently about B.A.N.K (Buy Art Not Kids), an art auction to raise funds and awareness for Ratanak International,  a Canadian charity that rescues and rehabilitates child sex trafficking victims in Cambodia. What an amazing cause and fundraiser idea. Everyone can use some original art in their homes or work space, right?

Meghan Richardson (below) is the Creative Director of BANK and is sharing some advice on art selection and arranging.  PS I think she has one of the coolest jobs!


Tell us a bit about your background.

My journey in the arts formally began with a bachelor of Fine Arts from OCADU. Upon graduation I started working at Marcia Rafelman Fine Arts (EST. 1984) in Toronto where I am currently the Gallery Director. For over 10 years and under the wonderful direction of Marcia Rafelman I have developed my eye for carefully selecting and installing the appropriate pieces of artwork for many private and corporate clientele throughout North America. I am also the art placement coordinator/art installer at the Baycrest Hospital in Toronto. It was this passion and love for the arts that led me to join forces with a phenomenally talented volunteer committee lead by artist Rachelle Kearns for the first annual Buy Art Not Kids (B.A.N.K.) art auction taking place on April 18 at Havergal College. It was an absolute honour to be recently named the Creative Director for B.A.N.K.

Describe your role as an art consultant.

As an art consultant I use my knowledge of art and design to select pieces of art that will enhance my client’s space. Art consultants work closely with galleries and artists to source the best art possibilities to set the mood for the spaces clients desire to fill. I am instrumental in helping new collectors from selecting that perfect piece for over the sofa to building an art collection while assisting more seasoned collector’s fill that gap in their collection. Working with an art consultant should be an informative and enjoyable way to purchase art. Consultants are a wonderful resource to art buyers by having a great eye for the details, fresh ideas and excellent resources at hand.

How does one go about selecting art that ‘speaks’ to you?

When it comes to buying art, I always recommend clients choose something that they love. Art impacts your daily life! The idea for the ‘Buy Art Not Kids’ art auction was founded on this thought: Art can change people, and people can change the world! The best compliment I can get is when someone looks at a piece I’ve selected and hung for them and says to me, ‘that reminds me of the time when…’ because it means they can relate to it. It’s a great feeling when a client becomes a part of the piece.

Marjolyn vanderHart_Pathfinder_Mixed Media on Canvas_ 30x30_ 2012

Is there a proper way to hang art?

Absolutely! Each art installer has their own hanging technique. Most art installations require just a few tools; pencil, eraser, hooks, nails and most importantly a level. My clients are always amazed how quickly a professional art installer can hang with such ease and all with a lot less holes in their walls! There really is an art to hanging art.

Generally speaking using two hooks per piece is ideal. Not only are the pieces more secure on the wall, artwork does not tend to shift & tilt, therefore less levelling adjustments are needed on an ongoing basis. Your artwork should hang so that the centre of the image is approximately 58-60 inches from the floor. If you are not used to this height, it may take a little getting used to, but I’m sure you will enjoy.

What are some tips on lighting artwork?

Avoid direct natural light. Even though this looks great, sunlight / UV rays can be very unhealthy for the artwork and is best avoided. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, first think about your art layout and how you want to use lighting to accent each piece or a group of pieces. Uplights or downlights are great, but I highly recommend targeted track lights because of their flexibility. Second, keep in mind that you need a light source that is three times the intensity (brightness) of the ambient (room) lighting. And the light source must be at a thirty-degree angle to light it best and avoid any glare. Lastly, be aware that some art will bounce light causing reflections and impairing the view. To avoid this, use a non-reflective glass that is archival or acrylic. It may be a little more expensive, but well worth it! Experimenting with lighting your artwork until you are satisfied with the result. Avoid directly shining the beam of light directly on your piece of art as over time will lead to the deterioration of your art.

Atlantic Ridge- by Michael Levin- Chromogenic print on aluminum, 2011

What are your thoughts on art placement in a room?

Art placement is extremely important as it finishes the scene or look and feel of the room. The most frequent installing mistake is hanging pieces too high. Artwork should generally be at eye level for a person of average height but more importantly relate to the space and objects that it may be near or above, for instance a sofa or sideboard. If the piece of art is hung too high it will appear to float up to the ceiling and not be grounded to that piece of furniture.

Here are some tips:

· Don’t be afraid to place your piece ‘off-centre’ on the wall. When done correctly this can add a little drama to room, as it less expected to the viewer than placing art in the middle of the wall.

· The size of the art should relate to the furniture.  In general, when hanging art over a piece of furniture it should not be longer than the width of the furniture.

· Art should be well-lit: Illuminating artwork gives it importance.

· Go big! One large painting makes a statement and keeps things simple.

Rachelle Kearns_ Joy in the Wilderness_2013_ Acrylic paint & resin on cedar board_ 30 x 60 inches This piece is by B.A.N.K founder Rachelle Kearns.

Can you have too much art in a space? 

I think it’s important to understand what vibe, or energy a client desires for the space. Once that is understood, it becomes much easier to choose an artwork or multiple artworks that will work. Each piece of art should have enough wall space surrounding it so it does not feel cramped. If the client wishes a calm, tranquil space, then placing many pieces in that space will be quite challenging. It’s not impossible, but the art must be carefully curated to achieve the desired result and not feel cluttered.

I love salon style art walls. What are your thoughts?

This is an excellent way to display many small or medium pieces all on the same wall, especially if the wall space is at a premium, for example in a loft or condo.

Here are a few simple tips:  Lay out all of the pieces you intend on hanging on the floor first. Play around with the orientation of the frames and make sure you like it. For the free-spirited, think about your vision, but then start by hanging the largest piece in the centre and work out. It always helps when a client has great pieces to work with! Most successful salon style walls start with a theme, for example all black & white photographs in black wooden frames or vintage posters in antique frames.

How do you select art as an investment?

Selecting artwork as an investment can be tricky. Investors must thoroughly research their potential purchases, and to save them time and effort, enlist the help of a knowledgeable art consultant who knows a client’s taste and can ensure the artists legitimacy. Most importantly buyers should purchase pieces of art that they love.

Who are some up and coming Canadian artists?

We’re very proud of this year’s roster for ‘Buy Art Not Kids’! Nava Waxman, who recently participated in the Verge Art Fair in Miami, has a solo show in July at the Julie M. Gallery in Toronto. Michael Levin will be included in Hasselblad’s upcoming 2013 coffee table book titled ‘Victor’ which is getting big buzz, and Emily Filler is an up and comer who has burst onto the Montreal and Quebec scene with great success. Not to mention Rachelle Kearns, the founder of ‘Buy Art Not Kids’. Her work has recently been acquired by Tiffany & Co., and is now exhibited worldwide!

Thank you so much Meghan for this informative interview! I have always thought that those library lights that you see above art can be detrimental to the work. 

The B.A.N.K art auction is Thursday, April 18th at Havergal College. You can buy tickets here.  You can reach Meghan at:

Have a happy weekend everyone! Stay dry! (if you are in the TO area!)

If you require design advice, please contact me at vanessa(at)


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