Buying Art … Reflecting Taste and Style in Your Home

Art above fireplace conceals a flat screen TV; adjacent art features local island artists. Photographer: Martin King

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as Margaret Wolfe Hungerford wrote in her 19th Century book “Molly Brown,” and in that same century Lew Wallace wrote in “The Prince of India,” beauty is altogether in the eye of the beholder.  

 Art is also in the eye of the beholder. It is a reflection of your taste and style. And, buying, rather than acquiring art, is an art form in itself.  

 There is also an abundance of books written on the subject of buying art, as well. We work with clients to acquire art based on their taste and budget providing many resources and expertise.

 The first step in buying art is to know what you like – at least in terms of style – a style that fits your sensibilities, your taste, your lifestyle and the design of your home. 

 Art can be an accent, a complement to the furnishings in your home, art can make a statement or art can just simply be a piece that you love and want to enjoy seeing every day to share with friends and family. Try hanging art over a flat screen TV. There are art systems that cover the screen and they can be an effective way of concealing a flat screen so that the TV is not a focal point in the room. It’s an expensive solution, but well worth it for the right room. 

 Art comes in many forms. Understanding the differences between original art and the various types of prints is essential and can affect your budget.    

Original Art

The marketplace is filled with images and reproductions sometimes passed off as “original” art. If you’re buying original art, be sure that you are dealing with a reliable source – a gallery or individual representing the artist or the artist directly. If possible, it’s always recommended to meet the artist. 

 Browsing local art galleries where you live and where you go will draw your eye to the style, color or technique that you like. In Southern California from San Diego throughout Orange County, Los Angeles and into Santa Barbara, there are notable galleries representing known and emerging artists.  

 Don’t forget about Art Walks! One of our favorites is the First Thursdays Art Walk in Laguna Beach. Galleries are open to the public and provide welcoming receptions, also admission is free to the Laguna Art Museum on those nights. 

 Auction Houses are another great resource for original art. Generally Auction Houses offer original art – in all forms – from estate sales.   


When buying prints, know that artists’ prints are reproductions of paintings and that the term “print” covers a range of printmaking techniques such as etching, woodcut, engraving, screen print and linocut.

The most common forms of prints are Serigraph, Giclee and Lithograph prints. Serigraph and Giclee prints are popular because of their high quality and they both tend to come in limited signed and numbered editions.

Here are some helpful definitions: 


The giclee printmaking method uses an ink-jet system to reproduce a photograph of the original artwork or photograph. The word giclee originates from a French word meaning “sprayed ink.” A good quality giclee print reproduces the fine details of the original artwork and can be printed on paper or canvas.


A serigraph is a print made by using a silkscreen method of printing. This method involves stretching a mesh cloth over a wooden frame, blocking out the design with a stencil or a glue sizing, and using a squeegee to force the ink through the holes in the cloth. Serigraphs can be printed on paper or fabric.


Commercial lithographic printing is done on an offset printing press, which can produce high-quality, finely detailed impressions at high speed, reproducing any material that can be photographed for the platemaking process. This offset printing process can produce massive numbers of artists’ prints.

 Buying art and acquiring essential knowledge about the artists and the many forms that their art may take is as prolific as some of the printing processes described here.

 You can learn from art dealers, gallery owners and curators. Most importantly, be open to all of the possibilities.   

If you want to learn more about buying art, reach Chris Kittrell, principal of Kittrell & Associates Interior Design at Call her at 949.737.5511 and visit her website at She is a dealer for Vision Art Galleries in Costa Mesa. Visit their website at

By Chris Kittrell, Kittrell & Associates Interior Design