August 10, 2011 at 10:30 am , by Lauren Piro
There’s nothing that completes a room quite like a fabulous print to hang (what’s more depressing than bare walls?). The art world can be daunting, though, so I’ve become a fast fan of 20×200, an online art store started by Jen Bekman, a New York City gallery owner. She’s on a mission to get everyone finding and talking about art that they love—even those who think their walls are limited to finger-paint masterpieces and dorm-décor leftovers.
20×200 connects vibrant artists with potential art lovers right in their inbox, and then sells the prints at a super affordable price. Every print is a limited edition, often starting with 200 pieces sold for $20 each (get it?).
“I really love the idea of people finishing the picture of their home with art by an artist that they’re going to read about and follow,” she says. “I want people to talk about their art collections in the same way they talk about the books they’re reading or what shoes or gadget they’re going to buy.”
Today, 20×200 launches a cool collaboration with West Elm—a collection of colorful, modern prints from a variety of artists.
“West Elm has the trifecta of simple, chic, and affordable solutions,” says Jen. “And like 20×200, they have a genuine enthusiasm for presenting indie stuff that’s fresh and new.”
Nervous about incorporating art in your home? Jen shared her sage advice on why you shouldn’t be.
Collecting art and using it in your home IS for you.
“Traditionally, art is seen as something that’s only for the elite, and that’s very frustrating. I opened my gallery as an accessible and friendly place that was still serious about art, and 20×200 grew out of that. Our tag line is ‘live with art, it’s good for you,’ and I really mean it. I feel like my life is better because I have art on my walls. I love surrounding myself with things I that I like aesthetically, and it’s really gratifying to support an artist by buying their work.”
In the art world, there’s truly something for everyone.
“A police car pulled up in front of the gallery last summer, and the officer came in and said ‘I love 20x200—I’ve bought tons of stuff from there!’ He talked about Sharon Montrose, a photographer that takes these very disarming photos of baby animals. I just love that this New York City cop got out of his squad car and walked into a gallery to talk about a specific photographer. It’s amazing—people underestimate the average person’s appetite for art.”
Look for art that reflects what you like …
“My first and last rule of collecting art is to buy what you love. Too often, people are looking for a rulebook, but buying art should be about finding what engages you. My boyfriend is a cyclist, so he loves art that has bicycles. He has everything from a letterpress print to a vintage poster to a 20×200 print—they’re all totally valid artistic works, and he’s satisfying something he’s really interested in.”
… but you don’t have to be too literal.
“Try starting with your favorite color. You don’t have to buy, say, only red paintings, but you can look for pieces that have a hint of red and begin to build a collection.”
It’s totally fine to start small.
“It’s a huge commitment to go into a gallery and buy a piece of artwork that is thousands of dollars, so I think art books are really awesome—I’m constantly getting buried in them! They’re visually stimulating, and a great way to learn about artists you enjoy. And with 20×200, you can start at a $20 price point and then try working your way up the food chain.”
In the end, don’t take it too seriously.
“Ultimately, finding art should be fun, satisfying and exciting. It should make people happy.”
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