Meet the Artist: Axelle VM Philtjens tracks time in Polaroid photography

Meet the Artist: Axelle VM Philtjens tracks time in Polaroid photography

Belgian photographer Axelle VM Philtjens’ fascination with Polaroid photography is a family affair. The 22-year-old artist inherited her great-grandfather’s analog cameras along with his love for art and began experimenting with Polaroids while documenting her grandfather’s hospitalization and eventual recovery from COVID-19.
 
“He was a huge inspiration for me and always believed in me as an artist,” she said. The resulting work led to an ongoing interest in the nature of time and memory that she continues to explore through manipulating Polaroid prints. 


What led you to the medium of photography, and particularly the experimental Polaroid Photography you create?

My family led me to photography. My mother would give me throwaway cameras to take on school holidays and shoot photos. My great-grandfather loved photography, and after his passing in 2016, I inherited his analog camera. That’s where my journey started. I loved shooting film and seeing the results after they developed. 
 

My love for Polaroid photography came later on. Instant film has become a lot more popular over the years. I wanted to try it out, but I wanted big frames, and that’s why I decided on Polaroid. I love that it’s so tangible! After 15 minutes, you’re already holding the photograph in your hands. It makes it real and fun to play with. But most of all, it makes me feel connected with the medium — something I don’t always feel with digital photography. 

 

Was there a particular moment that captured you?

Polaroid Photography

“What Remains of You” (2021) depicts an old dress shirt of Philtjen’s late grandfather, shot on a Polaroid 640 Land Camera and made with her favorite water vinegar technique. “He was a huge inspiration for me and always believed in me as an artist,” she said.

The moment I decided that I wanted to focus on Polaroid was when I shot a documentary series about my late grandfather. He had gotten COVID-19 during the first wave, and I wanted to capture his recovery. It brought me a lot closer to photography, and that’s also when I started experimenting with the medium and cutting the prints open. 


Tell us more about how your family inspired your artistry.

Both my late great-grandfather and my grandfather played a big role in my life and my art! I did not know my great-grandfather was into photography until after he passed away in 2016. I did have a great bond with him, but we usually talked about other art-related things, such as music. Art and knowledge were very important to him and an interest we both shared!
 
My grandfather loved photography and traveling. Whenever he would get back from his travels with my grandmother, he would always sit down with me and show me his landscape pictures. So photography was sort of passed down to me by both of them. He was a huge part of my life, and since he loved photography, he always supported me as an artist. His hardworking attitude and the way he never gave up and always fought until the end inspired me to do the same, both in life and in the art world!
 
The documentary series about my grandfather was a way for me (and maybe my family) to cope with the situation. My grandfather got COVID-19 and was put into an artificial coma. We were all scared for the future, but he made it through. The documentary series shows both him in his recovery and his absence in our lives.
 
He had to stay in the hospital for about eight weeks, which was hard on all of us. The series was shot on Polaroid black and white I-type film. The series contained portraits of him in the hospital and portraits of my grandmother but also the empty spaces he left behind in the house. I later used one of those prints for one of my first experiments.
 
My great-grandfather and grandfather were the most important men in my life. I would not be the person nor photographer I am without them!


What other influences help your work take shape? 

My mother took me to countless museums until I was old enough to visit them myself. I’ve always loved the Baroque painting style and its incredible detail and lifelikeness. Seeing those paintings and all the art that came before me made me realize I wanted to pursue the arts.

My influences range from the Baroque and Symbolism painting styles to photographers like Nan Goldin, Goran Bertok, and Kirsten Thys van den Audenaerde. They’re three very different artists, but they all inspire me. I was even lucky enough to meet Kirsten Thys van den Audenaerde and ask her advice on working with expired polaroid film and more. I get inspired by all kinds of artists throughout history, not just photographers. 


Tell us about your process. How does your work go from idea to execution?

Polaroid Photography

With her experimental Polaroids, Philtjens documents the decay of the Saint-Michael’s Abbey through time. Click to see her portfolio “Tarditas Temporis.”


 

Almost everything starts with a fascination for me. My latest work, “Tarditas Temporis” started with my fascination with time. After that, I start my research phase. This includes the scientific side but also the artistic. What has been done before? And how can I visualize this? What’s the story I want to tell? Once I have my research gathered, and my story pinned down, the images start forming in my brain. I visualize what I want to capture first in my head, and then I go out and search for it.

With “Tarditas Temporis,” I knew that I wanted to capture time in an image. I looked for ways to create an ever-evolving Polaroid, and I found it. I work with the images I create in my head and try to recreate them in reality or something similar. After that, it becomes a cycle of research and shooting images. 

The manipulation of my Polaroid photography can happen in two stages: either right after the image was taken or at the end. I do research on my manipulation of the image to make it a part of the story. It needs to amplify the story and the image. I’ll start cutting the prints open and add chemicals or ink.

That’s just as much fun as taking the image. I love seeing new images form inside one polaroid, and watching the effect of time on the image. It also brings me close to my work. 

At last, I gather everything. I’m a collector of images. Once I have all my pieces, I start to puzzle my story together. 


Describe the environment you create in. Do you have any rituals to get in the zone?

Polaroid Photography

Axelle VM Philtjens

The environment I work in depends on what I’m working on. Most of my ideas start in my room, and I’ll quickly take them outside. It starts with walks and travels. I like to work on-site but also develop ideas on site. My ritual is putting on my favorite bands, Type O Negative and Ghost, and then going out to explore, maybe taking a few impulsive pictures of things that I like or that fascinate me. Once that’s done, I come home, and the research and photography cycle starts again. 


When do you feel most creative? How do you boost your creativity and push through creative blocks?

Image: In Philtjens’ images like “Stairway to heaven,” the damage and alterations symbolize the damage emotions have on memories, thus making them subjective.
 
I feel most creative at night or when I’m on site. At night, a whole new world opens up. It’s so quiet, and I can stay in the flow. When I’m on-site, there are so many things that catch my eye and that I need to see and explore, and that piques my creativity.
 
Something that both boosts my creativity and helps me push through creative blocks is walks in nature. Nature is so fascinating, and it gives me time to think. I use those walks as a moment to think and to follow my thought trails wherever they go. It gives me a moment to unfocus on the world and look inside my own head for a minute.
 
Another way to push through creative blocks is experimenting on old failed Polaroid prints. I love seeing the process and learning new things.


What is one tool you could not live without?

Except for my cameras? My Polaroid cutter knife. It’s an old hobby knife that’s all rusted due to use and covered in paint and chemicals. I use it to cut open my Polaroids, and it’s the only way I’ll do it. 


What subjects are fascinating to you most right now?

My current fascination is time and anthropology. I love the human mind and how it deals with concepts like mortality and time. But also time and how we experience it. We know time has passed, but the only proof we have are our memories. Remembering is time traveling in your own mind. At this point, I’ve nicknamed time “the devourer of things.” I’m fascinated by subjects and concepts that we cannot touch or grasp. 


What do you hope audiences take away from your work?

Memento Vivere. Remember to live. Our time here on earth is so short. I hope when people see my work, they remember that one day their time is up. Live your life, explore and learn. That they can find a love and fascination for even the littlest things. I hope my art can help people start a journey into their own mind. 

And for the artists who dream of doing what they love, I hope my work inspires them to follow that dream. Chase it, and don’t ever let it go. 

 

Allison Stice

Editorial director and writer Allison Stice covers art, design and culture. Her work has been published in The Bitter Southerner, Garden & Gun, Savannah Magazine and more.

Meet the Artist: Nicole Holloway lets story drive her work

Meet the Artist: Nicole Holloway lets story drive her work

What’s one tool  Nicole Holloway can’t live without? The library! The artist from Newfoundland, Canada, researches narratives and sources images in the stacks before creating her mixed-media and digital collages. Her narrative-driven work explores feminism, the environment, Newfoundland’s singular terrain, and more through a personal lens. Her pro tip: Befriend your local librarian to get first dibs on discarded materials you can repurpose. Learn more about Holloway’s inspiration and process below. 

Meet the Artist: Nicole Holloway lets story drive her work - Art Guide by Artrepreneur

Nicole Holloway lives and works in Newfoundland, Canada.

Caption: Nicole Holloway lives and works in Newfoundland, Canada. 
 

Tell us about your journey to becoming an artist. When did the visual arts become a passion for you? When did you decide to pursue the arts professionally?

I like to think I’ve always been a creative person. I knew going into high school that I wanted to get a visual arts degree. I never even considered anything else. Looking back now, I don’t think I actually knew what I wanted to do with the degree, I only knew I wanted one. When people would ask me about the future, I would usually say I wanted to teach, because most of my friends in art school were planning to do that. In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t know because it allowed me to just do what interested me in the moment. In art school I focused on two-dimensional design like painting and printmaking. I got hired at a flower shop after I graduated and apprenticed with the owner for about four years. That job really helped me branch out with my artwork and not be afraid of adding form and shape to my work.
 

Most recently, you’ve been working in collage. How does your process go from idea to execution? How do you know when a work is “finished”?

I work in an academic library, so I like to start with research. The library is shelved by subject, and I love walking up and down the book stacks and borrowing books that connect with my chosen subject matter in exciting ways. Once I pick my research material, I look for artistic material. Most of my digital stuff comes from royalty-free image websites. For physical collages, I check the library for discarded books with pictures in them. I’ve also befriended the librarian at the public library, and she’ll usually call me when they discard their magazines. 
 
I like to start by reading through my research material, so I can get a better understanding of my subject matter. The more I research the subject, the easier it is to narrow down my imagery and build a design that feels appropriate. I use Photoshop for my digital work. My paper collages are done with scissors, an exacto-knife, and a glue stick (usually pilfered from my kid’s craft box). I also like using different materials for my collages too, like found objects and ocean debris, all kinds of stuff. 
 
Finishing a piece is tricky for me sometimes, I rarely know exactly when to stop. I tend to add too much to a work, reconsider, remove pieces, and stare at it for a long time. I also like to give myself a day or two to sit with it before I finally put it out into the world.
 
Meet the Artist: Nicole Holloway lets story drive her work - Art Guide by Artrepreneur

“Single Ladies” by Nicole Holloway pays homage to Newfoundland’s Great Depression-era women who, unable to work due to being married, found meaning by contributing to the greater good.

 
 

How do your personal narratives intersect with political narratives in your work? 

I use my work to express an idea or opinion on something, and I like to weave a personal narrative into my work because it’s a representation of me and my ideas. When I’m dealing with broad subjects like feminism, politics, or the environment, it’s easier to relate it back to my situation. A lot of those personal narratives involve spirituality, where I live (Newfoundland, Canada), and my ideas and opinions on the future.
 

How do you find a “resolution” to some of these issues?

I like to combine the images I find with the principles and elements of design that visually reinforce the message behind the piece. Presenting an idea in an aesthetically pleasing way will make people spend more time considering it, because it can appeal to their visual sense. They may not agree with the message, but they can appreciate the way in which the message is presented, lending weight to the idea. In my recent body of work, we’ve gone so far, we’ve come full circle, I used the circle shape to unify each work, colour to emphasize the season and position in the sequence, and used repeated imagery in each work to reinforce my message.
 
Meet the Artist: Nicole Holloway lets story drive her work - Art Guide by Artrepreneur

“No. 4 (Beltane) Let Me Tell Ya ‘Bout the Birds and the Bees” depicts a potential future in which Mother Nature reclaims her place.

 
 

Describe the studio environment you create in. Do you have any rituals to get in the zone? Do you have a mantra or a motto? 

Hollow Hill Studio is a name I came up with for my artistic practice that combines my last name with hill, because our first house was on the edge of this steep hill that went down to a big waterfall behind our house. I used to work in my dining room there, and stare at the waterfall as I painted. We moved to a bigger house in 2020, and my studio is technically in the spare bedroom. There’s lots of storage in there for materials and space to set up my easel if I need it. Everything else is pretty much still done at the dining room table though, or the family computer in the living room. Since I work full time and have kids, getting studio time can be difficult. I always tell myself to aim for 30 minutes of “studio time” every day. The way I see it, half an hour is always doable. I always look forward to sitting down with some coffee or tea and puttering away at something for a while.
 

When do you feel most creative? How do you boost your creativity and push through creative blocks? 

I’m a morning person, but unfortunately my schedule only allows me to work on art in the evenings. If I’m not able to work on art until after supper, I usually find myself going over the concepts during the day and refining the message I want to send. That way when I’m working in the evenings, I can focus on the mundane tasks like cutting, assembling, etc. If I’m stuck creatively, I like to go back to the original idea and re-examine the research.
 

What is one tool you could not live without? 

I would say my computer, but that seems too obvious. I know this seems cheesy, but the library is a tool I use all the time. Not only for research, but for the sheer volume of free material I’ve gotten from librarians after they’ve weeded their collections. Books, magazines, all kinds of stuff.
 
Meet the Artist: Nicole Holloway lets story drive her work - Art Guide by Artrepreneur

“It’s a Different Kind of Cold” celebrates Newfoundland’s isolated landscape and rugged inhabitants.

 
 

Who are your influences? 

I really love art that’s more conceptual or contemporary. In art school, I was influenced a lot by artists like Marcel Duchamp, Jenny Holzer, Tony Cragg, Cornelia Parker and Rachel Whiteread. I’m also a fan of Petah Coyne, and some contemporary artists like Elyse Dodge, Natalie Ciccoricco, Nneka Jones and Sara Khan.

What subjects are fascinating you most right now?

Lately I’ve been really hung up on the idea of utopia, and how the different components of a utopian society are perceived based on the community’s needs. It’s such a broad subject, with so many different approaches.

What do you hope audiences feel when they see your work?

The goal of my artwork is always to create possibility and courage in the face of frustration and despair. It’s a personal journey to understand current issues facing our society. I want to create positive potential outcomes that can bolster people’s faith in our collective future.
 
Fine more of Nicole’s work here.
 
 
Allison Stice

Editorial director and writer Allison Stice covers art, design and culture. Her work has been published in The Bitter Southerner, Garden & Gun, Savannah Magazine and more.

Meet the Artist: Ethiopian Artist Minas Kahsay Captures Culture and Conflict

Meet the Artist: Ethiopian Artist Minas Kahsay Captures Culture and Conflict

When a shortage of oil paints hit Addis Ababa in 2015, Ethiopian artist Minas Kahsay turned to the same strength that always gets him through hard times: his creativity. With a pair of scissors and household magazines, the self-taught Kahsay launched into a new medium of paper mosaic art. In his works, Kahsay depicts portraits with traditional Ethiopian geometric patterns. He both celebrates the beauty and elegance of Ethiopian culture while drawing awareness to the conflicts that grip the country through more recent digital artworks he plans to release as NFTs, with a portion of the proceeds dedicated to victims of war.
Minas Kahsay

Minas Kahsay is an artist born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

 
Below, Kahsay tells Art Guide about when he decided to pursue the arts full-time, how he continually refines his technique, and the joy and challenges of making art. (This interview has been edited and condensed.) 
 
 

How did you discover your medium of paper mosaic art? 

 
The shortage of oil paints on the market in Ethiopia happened around 2015. Ethiopia is a land-locked country, and it takes a lot of effort to get your hands on any kind of product, to begin with. And suddenly, the people who used to provide us artists with the necessary art materials told us that there are no oil paints coming to their store, and that was it — no explanation provided for the cause.
 
They only said, “These things happen all the time.” So I had to look for alternative means to create my artworks. Luckily, I had a lot of magazines lying around at home, so I decided to experiment and use those magazines as an input or raw materials to create my artworks. My work evolved drastically. When I first started with paper mosaic, I understood there was a lot of potential to be explored with the medium, and I proved myself right by repeatedly creating multiple artworks and improving my techniques gradually.
 
Minas Khasay

“Ornate #2” by Minas Kahsay depicts an Ethiopian woman bathed with colors of her culture, complemented with geometrical patterns and motifs which create a rhythm that amplifies her beauty.

 
 

How do you choose your subjects?

I grew up in Ethiopia watching these geometric patterns all over the place, especially in traditional Ethiopian clothes, which both men and women wear, and traditional baskets which most Ethiopians use to decorate their houses with, including my parents’ house where I grew up. So, it is only natural to be inspired by them since I literally grew up surrounded by them.
 
The women in my artworks are generated from my imagination, but I am sure my imagination is influenced by the beautiful Ethiopian women whom I grew up admiring. I choose my subjects to represent the culture of Ethiopia and the elegance of its women. And when people see my artworks, I hope they gain insight of what Ethiopia looks like through the eyes of its’ artists.
 

What subjects have been inspiring you lately? 

The subject that is fascinating me the most right now is creating artworks that represent the genocide and civil war that has been going on in my country for more than a year now and to let the rest of the world know about what is actually going on in the besieged northern region of Ethiopia called Tigray. 
 
I previously did abstract geometrics on my laptop, and since it is digital work, there was no reception for such artworks in Ethiopia at that time, so I put most of my time and effort on my paper mosaic artworks. Some of my latest works are digital paintings which I am planning to release as NFTs and designate some of the income to the victims of the war. In that way, the rest of the world would understand what is really happening in Ethiopia.
 
Minas Kahsay

The digital work “Fruits of War #5” by Minas Kahsay depicts the devastating situation in the Ethiopian region of Tigray.

 
 

Tell me about growing up in Addis Ababa. 

Addis Ababa is a metropolitan city where you can find diversity in many forms. It is considered the capital of Africa since the African Union is based here. The weather rarely exceeds 28 degrees celsius and seldom descends under 12 degrees celsius, so it is an ideal environment to live in. Many cultural events are held in the city. The people are very hospitable to visitors and foreigners. Things used to be even more interesting and vibrant when I was growing up. Since Ethiopia is under an ongoing civil war, there is a fracture between the society on ethnic lines, so honestly speaking, this is the worst time for the city and the country as a whole.
 

When did you decide to pursue the arts full-time? 

I started making art as long as I can remember. 
 
After graduating from Addis Ababa University, I spent a year looking for a job (jobs are hard to find here). Then I get a job as a junior human resources officer in a company called Agency for Government Houses. I worked there for 2 years there and I applied for a job in a Canadian-based NGO called DOT Ethiopia and worked for a year as a community facilitator. 
 
The moment I knew for sure that I needed to be a full-time artist is immediately after getting my first job. I knew that life was not for me, and I did not have time to create my artwork. I could not create in my spare time too, because I was already exhausted from my day job. I felt like my soul was being crushed from all sides; I felt lost, and to make matters worse, time was passing by without me creating any substantial artwork which I was thinking about doing growing up. I had a lot of ideas to create, and I was not able to do one of them. 
 
But I was also aware that I needed to provide for myself financially and had to continue working. That is why I worked for 2 years while I prepared in advance for my ultimate strike of becoming a full-time artist. The second NGO job became a transition for me because the job was for a fixed one-year contract and it paid relatively well, so it gave me a chance to prepare and save a little bit of money. After the one-year project ended, I started my life as a full-time artist. Even though I hated my time at both companies, i actually won awards from both. I was chosen as employee of the year from the first company, and I won a social enterprise workshop competition from the second company.
 

What is your motto? 

Strive to make your latest work your best-ever work.
 

Tell us about your creative process. What do you hope audiences take from your work? 

Minas Kahsay

Paper mosaic art “Ornate #4” by Minas Kahsay represents the ideal Ethiopian beauty who serves as an ambassador for her culture.

 
I feel most creative when I am by myself surrounded by nature. I boost my creativity and push through creative blocks by continuously sketching and doodling whatever is in my mind. And ironically enough, my creativity could also be aroused when I am not actively creating for a while and suddenly get inspired by something beautiful I encounter when I go out and about in Addis Ababa. 
 
Then I return home and contemplate on how I can combine and create an ideal Ethiopian beauty from what I saw earlier. The environment I create in is in my studio by myself listening to different genres of music, loads and loads of magazines by my side, references of my past works nearby, pencils, pens, ruler and scissors on hand.
I go through the magazines I have at home and rip out all the colorful pages which inspire me. Then, I will start drawing a portrait of a woman from my imagination and use minimal references from different photographs. I include the geometric patterns which I saw on the traditional dresses of the women I encountered earlier. This combination simply represents both the beauty of Ethiopian women and its culture within a harmony created by the combination of both.
 
I hope audiences feel and see the beauty I saw and imagined when they see my works. When people see my artworks, I hope they gain insight of what Ethiopia looks like through the eyes of its artists. 
 
See more of Minas Khasay’s work on Artrepreneur.  
 
 
Allison Stice

Editorial director and writer Allison Stice covers art, design and culture. Her work has been published in The Bitter Southerner, Garden & Gun, Savannah Magazine and more.

Room Upgrade: Do’s and Don’ts for Dreamy Wall Art Above Bed

Room Upgrade: Do’s and Don’ts for Dreamy Wall Art Above Bed

There’s perhaps no more intimate spot for your treasured artworks and keepsakes than in your bedroom. When it comes to wall art above the bed, indulge your desires, and don’t be afraid to get personal: Guests will rarely see this private sanctuary, which means you could decorate with artworks you love that you might not normally display in areas of your home where there’s more foot traffic.

Whatever you choose, take care to keep in mind what your bedroom should be for: A calm, peaceful place to unwind and relax. Sleep experts say one of the best ways to make sure you’re getting those recommended seven to eight hours per night is to prepare your environment. Your bedroom (and its walls) should not be overly busy or cluttered.

Instead, this intimate room should function primarily as a stress-free zone designed to help you unwind and relax, not a place where your mind whirls over time with worry or to-do lists. Try to keep your bedroom as tech-free as possible, make sure your mattress, pillows, and sheets are comfortable for you, and select a soothing color palette that harmonizes with any wall art you choose. 

Could your bedroom walls use a refresh? View our list below for dreamy ideas to get started.

Do’s and don’ts for wall art above bed

 

Do:

  • Choose one large focal piece: If you were looking for the perfect excuse to invest in or commission an oversized, one-of-a-kind statement piece you’ll love looking at every day, consider this your invitation to go wild. Try one focal piece, and go big or go home — especially if you don’t have a headboard, a large piece of wall art above the bed will act as a focal point for the room.
  • …or a pair that match: Two artworks of the same size hung side by side will give a pleasing feeling of symmetry and are perfectly on-theme if you’re partnered. Celebrate your connection by going double or nothing.
  • Try some hot text: For a graphic moment that literally makes a statement, a cheeky banner, word art or even a neon sign is a fun and flashy way to showcase your sense of humor and style. Pick your favorite quote or mark your initials in unexpected lettering, including from reclaimed signs.
Wall Art Above Bed

Antique salvaged metal letters broadcast this couple’s love for each other.

  • Bring in texture: Adorn the space above your bed with upcycled architectural elements. A small collection of woven baskets adds an element of natural texture in a neutral palette. Other options for 3D art above the bed includes richly woven tapestries, rugs, macrame wall hangings or a dreamcatcher. For rustic homes, a pair of antlers or a wreath that swaps out with the seasons brings the outdoors in.

Don’t:

  • Select a busy color palette: Interior designers recommend avoiding bold colors like oranges and reds in rooms where you want to unwind since those shades are often associated with high energy. Keep the color scheme soft and soothing to invite yourself to drift off to dreamland.
  • Make arrangements that are too cluttered: Keep groupings, like gallery walls or large collections of similar prints, to a minimum. Too many pieces of wall art above the bed could contribute to a feeling of chaos and clutter rather than the serene atmosphere you want to create.
  • Pick objects that are sharp or heavy: Mirrors and 3D sculptures are all lovely to look at, but you must consider whether they’re liable to land on people while they’re asleep. Similarly, shelving where you prop various options or framed prints may not hold your artworks securely enough to keep them from falling. Keep reading for more ways to maintain style while taking necessary precautions.

How to hang wall art above bed

For safety, it’s essential to nail the artwork selection (pardon the pun) above your bed — especially if you live in an earthquake zone. You’ll want to consider factors from the weight of the artwork to the frame to how securely you can mount it to the wall.

Opt for lightweight pieces, like canvas and woven wall hangings, over heavier artworks or sculptures that could cause injury if they fall. Whatever you choose, consider ditching glass. Plastic can be less expensive while still achieving the same look.

Wall Art Above Bed

“Whirl” by Aaron Santos Boyd-Rochman gives the feeling of a textural element while remaining safely 2D as a high-quality print. Win, win!

Does the frame have sharp corners or edges, and is it made of metal or heavy wood? Above the bed may not be the best place. Keep your artwork unframed, select a safer (and likely cheaper) material, or choose a frame with rounded corners.

Size matters, too. With the average queen bed at 60” wide and a king at 76”, keep the magic formula in mind for choosing the correct canvas size and aim for a width between 0.66 and 0.75 of your bed size. However, we’ve seen artwork that’s sweet and petite work in this area, as well, so long as it is hung at the correct height.

The same rule of hanging artwork at eye level applies, even if you won’t be standing in front of the piece because it is displayed over your bed. Also, remember to hang artwork approximately 5” to 9” above the headboard if you have one to avoid having your art “float” too high on the wall.

This might be the perfect occasion to have your artwork professionally installed. If you go the DIY route, be sure to use picture mounts or nails and screws with weight limits that can adequately secure your piece.  

Key takeaways

  • Your bedroom is a place to get personal. Select artworks that speak to you and consider spending more on an investment or custom piece.
  • Art in the bedroom should be soothing and contribute to a feeling of calm rather than clutter or chaos.
  • Along with traditional artworks, there are many options for wall art above the bed, including woven wall hangings, baskets, and other upcycled or reclaimed natural elements that add texture.
  • For wall art above the bed, put safety first: Avoid objects or framed artworks that are sharp or heavy, forgo the glass, and make sure your precious pieces are securely installed.
  • Some measurements to consider include selecting wall art that is of a width between 0.66 and 0.75 of your bed size, hanging artworks at least 5 inches and no more than 10 inches above your headboard, and placing artworks at eye level.

 

Allison Stice

Editorial director and writer Allison Stice covers art, design and culture. Her work has been published in The Bitter Southerner, Garden & Gun, Savannah Magazine and more.

The Best Art Books for Beginners

The Best Art Books for Beginners

Think summer reading should be devoted to bodice rippers or cold-blooded thrillers? Think again. Aspiring art collectors, creatives, and art admirers of every stripe can spend their time on the beach or curled up in bed this season broadening their horizons with our curated list of best art books for beginners. 
Summer is an excellent time to explore new vistas through reading, whether on an actual vacation or at home. It’s also the prime time to cultivate new passions, even if you’re not currently a student (and even if you never took an art history class!) With the pace of life slowed down a touch and out of office messages on your email, vow to connect with your creativity this season. No matter your starting place, age, or level of artistic ability, you can spark inspiration as well as new conversations with fellow travelers and friends.
 

For the curious about contemporary art

 
Do you struggle to understand contemporary art? Have you felt hopelessly out of your depth in an art gallery or museum? This is the best art book for you. Veteran art dealer Findlay gives aspiring art lovers full permission to engage with art on their own terms — no prior experience or education required. Learn why you should ignore museum wall labels and unplug the audio tour to connect with art on your own terms. “Seeing Slowly” will help you give you confidence and reinvigorate your love for art.  
The Best Art Books for Beginners - Art Guide by Artrepreneur

Black Futures by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham


“Black Futures” by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham
This anthology was co-edited by arts writer, curator, and activist Kimberly Drew, whose influential art-world career began as social media manager for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and New York Times culture writer Jenna Wortham combines essays and poetry, photographs and images, and memes and social media posts to showcase the world of Black creators — and envision the future. 
 
Also, add to cart: 
Pocket-sized yet powerful, Drew’s account of how art and protest are inextricably linked invites readers to claim space in an art world that is for everyone — not just the elite. 
 

Best art books for the beginner art collector

 
With decades of experience in the art market, Findlay decodes the forces at play behind the astronomical price tags that make headline news. Beyond the frenzy of constantly escalating prices and competitive status symbols, Findlay also takes a look at art’s essential worth in our everyday lives. But the gossipy scandals, scams, and stories he takes readers through are captivating, too! 
 
 A light-hearted art book for beginners that takes you into the heart of the contemporary art world, Thomas Girst, an art historian and worldwide Head of Cultural Engagement at the BMW Group, and Magnus Resch, an author, art entrepreneur, and lecturer, enlighten and entertain with anecdotes, advice, and stories curated from art-world insiders, including such names as Jeff Koons, Zaha Hadid, and John Baldessari, Larry Gagosian, Jeffrey Deitch, and more. 
 

Recommended reading if you skipped art history

 
A book based on a television series instead of the other way around, “Ways of Seeing” by John Berger — one of the world’s most celebrated art writers — will change the way you look at art. Originally a BBC series, the book includes seven essays (three of which are made up exclusively of images) that illuminate the cultural issues and hidden ideologies at play in the Western artistic canon. Berger was the first to introduce the concept of the “male gaze” in how women are portrayed from advertisements to oil paintings, an idea that launched additional feminist critiques of imagery in popular culture. With his insightful analysis and simple language, Berger makes art history more accessible and understandable for the beginner art lover. 
 
From Picasso’s blue period to Van Gogh’s yellow sunflowers, scarlet women to imperial purple, and everything in between, the little-known history of colors bursts vividly onto the page — and along the way, reveals their influence on the course of human civilization up until today. 
 
Art historian Bridget Quinn brings brilliant women artists to the fore in this illustrated volume. Designed as a corrective to the canon that often ignores female artists, “Broad Strokes” is a feisty, enjoyable, and essential feminist art history lesson from 1600 to today.
 
In a book that reads like a conversation between friends, famed artist David Hockney and his frequent collaborator, art critic Martin Gayford, take readers on a journey through visual images from cave paintings to contemporary cinema. Packed with stunning images to accompany the rousing discussion, this volume will change your perspective on art.  
Best Art Books

A History of Pictures by David Hockney and Martin Gayford

 

Best art books to refresh your creativity 

The great German poet Rainer Maria Rilke responds to a tortured young artist in a series of letters that still offer something fresh for contemporary readers. His advice from the turn of the 20th century rings true today:
 
“Go into yourself and test the deeps in which your life takes rise; at its source, you will find the answer to the question of whether you must create. Accept it, just as it sounds, without inquiring into it. Perhaps it will turn out that you are called to be an artist. Then take that destiny upon yourself and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without ever asking what recompense might come from outside.”
 
Whether you’re a practicing artist, dream of being one, or appreciate creativity in any form, this funny and practical handbook by art critic Jerry Saltz gives you fresh inspiration to follow your dreams and not give in to self-doubt. With advice, prompts, and rules to follow, Saltz distills his art-world experience into invaluable insight about what really matters when it comes to living an artful life. 
 
 
New York Times bestselling author Austin Kleon’s highly visual books are a primer for living a creative and meaningful life. In his most recent volume, he gives readers timeless advice for unlocking their creativity and getting their voices out in the world.   
 
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What art books do you recommend? Let us know in the comments. 
 
 
Allison Stice

Editorial director and writer Allison Stice covers art, design and culture. Her work has been published in The Bitter Southerner, Garden & Gun, Savannah Magazine and more.

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