It’s no secret that thoughtful curation gives a space a distinct personality and energy. But did you know that your choice of office art goes far beyond simple beautification? In fact, how we decorate our living and work spaces can profoundly affect our moods — and, incredibly, our productivity.
So often, our decorative efforts are relegated to living rooms and bedrooms, with the occasional leftover print finding a last-minute home near the tub. But consider the fact that most people spend an average of 90,000 hours of their lives at work — that’s about one-third — and it becomes clear that this approach is doing us a massive disservice. We spend a considerable amount of time and energy in the workplace, whether it’s at a desk tucked into the corner of your bedroom or an office building downtown. So why let it be drab, especially when a few thoughtful choices will elevate your day and maybe even make you excited to tackle that to-do list?
If you’re interested in choosing artwork for the workplace but don’t know where to start, there’s no need for the Sunday scaries. From color choices and their influence on productivity to appropriate genres of art and beyond, we’re going to give you a new understanding of how to curate your space so you can confidently start your new collection. We can’t promise a stress-free work environment, but we can help you find professional or home office wall art that will enliven this essential space.
Correlation between Colors and Productivity in Office Art
You’ve likely heard that certain colors can affect our moods and energy levels. Now, that common wisdom is also scientifically supported. The University of Texas conducted a study that confirmed that color actually does elicit specific reactions in the brain, which means that it can influence your mood and, ultimately, your creative output.
One of the most interesting findings? White is actually the worst choice, a fact that we art lovers can get behind. White walls can feel sterile and cold while negatively impacting productivity, so white should be used only as an accent color unless your office is a literal medical exam room or lab.
With the whole rainbow at your disposal, which color is right for you? That depends on what you’re going for. Browse our guide below to match your office art colors to your mood.
Yellow and Orange
Typically associated with positive feelings like optimism and excitement, yellow has been shown to inspire creativity and inventive thinking. (Over here at Artrepreneur, we’re partial to its cousin orange, which adorns our logo!) If you work in a creative field and want to feel inspired and innovative, yellow and orange are bold choices that will energize and motivate you.
Does your day get a little physical? Do you find yourself craving a little pick-me-up? Red has been shown to energize employees by increasing the heart rate and ever-so-slightly elevating blood pressure, which gives your body an additional edge when completing a physical task. Better yet? It’s also a powerful way to get a customer’s attention, so if your work involves attracting passersby or clicking that link in your marketing email, red is a powerful subliminal tool. Use it!
Does your work involve complicated and intricate tasks that require deep concentration? Then blue is your go-to. Blue has been shown to have a calming effect while increasing attentiveness, making it easier to comb through the tiny details without feeling overwhelmed. Think about it: when we feel calm, we’re better able to see the big picture and prioritize our tasks, which makes it easier to get things done.
Don’t forget that the colors you choose for office art can also apply to your desktop accessories. Make your decorative efforts extend beyond four walls by carefully selecting objects like Karen Brown Levey’s delicate vase, which can beautify while making your workspace feel cozy.
Another calming natural tone, certain shades of green, have been shown to ease anxiety and foster a more welcoming space. Associated with nature and rebirth, green is a great way to inspire your subconscious while feeling supported and more at ease.
It’s also an excellent choice if you don’t have a window or a view — add a vibrant landscape painting in verdant shades to make you feel like you’re looking at a beautiful vista. What better way to level up your green game than by bringing a stunning tribute to nature into your workspace?
Consider Different Needs and Environments
Take a breath, and take a look around your workspace: does it feel institutional? Stifling? How can you enliven the room through color? Think about the type of worker you are and what might help you do your best while improving your outlook. It’s not just about productivity: it’s also about helping you feel fab.
When it comes to office art, don’t allow your choices to be dictated solely by trends. Looking at what’s hot right now can be a great way to get started, but your workspace should feel personal to you. While chic on the surface, an aspirational space could ultimately feel distracting and cold.
Typically, choosing art for your workspace will go one of two ways: minimalist and refined to create a sense of calm or a quirky mix of styles to inspire creativity and get you energized. The direction you choose should work for your personality while feeling in sync with your work.
Do you need to pay close attention to spreadsheets and minuscule details? Then you’ll want to keep it simple and soothing with things like landscapes and minimalist imagery. Are you an imaginative mastermind pitching exciting new ideas to potential clients? Feel free to get a little wild and get those creative juices flowing! High-energy graphic prints and a mashup of different styles will keep you inspired while showing off your unique taste.
Just remember to take your time and be honest with yourself – this is a great opportunity to take a little field trip to your local museums and galleries to see what genuinely resonates and feels good.
Powerful Placements Can Make You Look More Professional
After you’ve selected new art for your workspace, it’s time to think about proper placement so each piece can sing. Perhaps your favorite piece can be located prominently in front of you, so you only have to lift your eyes to take it in. Or, perhaps you find yourself spending a lot of time in virtual meetings: this is a great opportunity to elevate your office art displayed behind you for your on-camera appointments, which will make you look more professional and buttoned up to colleagues and clients alike.
Consider positioning your desk and chair so that you have wall space to play with as a background, even if you have a small area to work with. A gallery wall that wraps around the corner is so much better than a prime view of your open closet. You could also add a shelf behind you to prop up posters and frames and swap them out with the seasons or as your tastes change.
Another quirky solution? Go big and bold! Recently, we discussed the exciting trend of commissioning a mural specifically for your home — a fun and distinctive solution that can extend to your office art as well. If you’re interested in creating a one-of-a-kind large office wall art tableau for your workspace, explore these 10 mural ideas for the tips and tricks you need to get started.
Go About Your Day Your Way
Even if you work from home, the office is a strangely public sphere: we spend our days interacting with diverse colleagues and clients, which means you still want to project a buttoned-up image of yourself. Even if you still occasionally indulge in the pandemic “business mullet” — clandestine sweatpants, we won’t judge you — a thoughtfully curated workspace will bring you immeasurable joy and help you express your sparkling personality.
And it bears repeating: the best spaces always feel genuine and sincere, which means thinking about what you need — and what you actually like. Don’t waste your time and money creating a workspace that feels cold and othering. You spend hours of your life ideating, dreaming, problem-solving, and creating inside these four walls. Why not let them invigorate and uplift you?
Is your office art in need of a refresh? What art styles and curations are you drawn to when decorating your home office or workspace? Get to work in the comments.
Kate Kelly attended Syracuse University and majored in French Literature, which inspired her to start her first blog, FauxFrench. She has worked as an illustration agent at Morgan Gaynin Inc., a premiere boutique agency in New York, as well as written for commercial and marketing assignments, conducted historical and academic research, journalism, and education