How do you agree with your partner on art? It's one of the most common obstacles for new collectors of my work — and, of course, it's not just an issue when choosing art. Marriage (or living together) is a give and take. Ahh, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that cliche doled out to masque a marital dispute. If it were that simple, we would all always magically agree with our partners on everything, right? Right?
Well, turns out, we don’t. Duh. And making a big decision like buying a piece of art for the home you two share is no different. I see it happen with my collectors and those aspiring to be all the time. One of you loves a particular piece, the other one is not convinced. How do you agree with your partner on art?
Here’s what I want you to know: This disagreement is not the end of the road to getting that piece you love into your home. Navigating around this roadblock and finding ways to agree with your partner on art can actually lead you to learning something new about each other. And I am here to help you get there — it’s all part of my core belief and promise to you that the art buying experience should be stress-free, fun, and enjoyable.
A lot of successfully finding agreement, I’ve learned, is actually rooted in the way you present an idea to your partner in the first place. So even if you and your partner are not far along enough in the art choosing process yet to disagree on any particular piece — do read on, as some of these strategies will help mitigate the chances of that ever happening in the first place. You’ll know how to present your preferred artwork choice to your partner so that they’ll fall in love with the artwork the same way you did.
Granted, some of these strategies might be blatantly obvious to you. Others might not be at all. Everyone communicates their wants and needs differently. Keep in mind: The single biggest problem with communication, George Bernard Shaw knew, “is the illusion that it has taken place.”
So let’s get to it. Here are 10 useful tips on how to agree with your partner on art.
TIP #1: Find Out Each Other’s Priorities And Visions
It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many couples who are choosing art for their homes don’t talk about what each of them is hoping to achieve in their space, how they ideally view their home. It’s an absolutely necessity if you and your partner want to agree on art (or any other finish for your home, for that matter). Do you want the space to feel calm? Do you think the space needs a pop of color? Do you want to create a nature-inspired space? Do you want to wow visitors? Do you want to be reminded of and commemorate a particularly joyous memory? Is your decor and interior design intended to help tell your story? Is it all of the above?
It’s an approach that West Seattle interior designer Paula Kennedy preaches to all her prospective clients, too. “I want both people to feel heard and expressed in their space,” Paula says, right before she adds only half-jokingly that she basically has a minor in marriage counseling and therapy because of her line of work. The first thing she talks about with prospective clients who want to transform their homes: “How do you want to feel when you walk into the room? Do you want vibrancy? Do you want to feel calm? That dictates everything.”
Now, don’t get intimidated. None of this needs to be articulated perfectly, and there are no wrong answers. But starting to think, and more importantly, TALK, about your visions for a particular space will make it more likely you both end up on the same page about how to get there and for you and your partner to agree on art you both love. Remember, art is arguably your single most potent tool in transforming the way a space both looks AND feels.
TIP #2: Know Where The Art Will Go — And What Else That Space Needs
This is almost the prerequisite for the first tip I just shared — in order to have a good understanding of your unique visions for a space, make sure you know which space(s) you are talking about when figuring out how to agree with your partner on art.
“Maybe there’s a lot going on in that room they are thinking of hanging the art”, Andrea Bushdorf, another West Seattle interior designer, told me when I asked her what advice she has for couples trying to figure out how to agree with their partner on art. “Adding one more thing to it may just push somebody over the edge and they can't decide, whereas the other person thinks the art is the final piece of the puzzle.” Maybe addressing some of the other issues in the room, trying to identify what the hang-ups are, needs to happen first, Andrea says. “Maybe their objection is not about the artwork altogether. Maybe they hate their sofa. And the last thing they want to do is put a gorgeous piece of artwork over it that just brings more attention to the sofa.”
So yes, the answer to the question where the art will hang goes beyond the obvious “filling blank walls” conversation. Depending on which space the art hangs in, you might want to consider different pieces. To inspire and jumpstart the conversation, here are the most popular walls for my art (and very popular pieces for those walls)…
- Living rooms: These are the spaces we spend a lot of time in, so you might want to add a pop of lively color or celebrate a cherished memory. Living rooms are where I see the largest variety of artworks chosen by collectors both in my West Seattle gallery and online. That being said, FAMILY BONDS, GUARDIAN ANGEL and IMMERSION are evergreen favorites among my collectors for their living rooms.
- Offices: Imagine an office that you actually want to spend time in, or at least a space that doesn’t feel like it’s draining your energy as soon as you set foot in there. In offices, look for art that boosts your own creativity and inspiration, or for art that offers a chance for a tired mind to escape for a meditative moment. A dreamy coastal image like THE FORTUITOUS MOMENT or a whimsical, colorful piece like GUARDIAN ANGEL are popular choices to transform an office.
- Bedrooms: Creating a serene space that puts your mind at ease and invites rest and relaxation are the most common objectives here. Nature’s calming qualities are long proven — but for the above-stated goals, color becomes a major consideration. In your bedroom, you likely don’t want super saturated, “loud” colors like reds and oranges. Rather, think about soothing blues and peaceful greens. Water and woodsy scenes like INVINCIBLE, OLYMPIC DREAMS or BALANCING ACT are great choices to create a peaceful, soothing sleeping space.
- Hallways: In these narrow spaces, you’ll likely hope to extend the feeling of depth, or create a welcoming and impressive entry into your home. Many times, hallways lack windows, so art that can give the impression of a window to the outside world is a welcome addition to add a lot of intrigue and interest to these oft-neglected spaces. Images with great depth like MEMORY LANE or RAINIER RHAPSODY work particularly well in hallways — the latter one especially in hallways with wall space constraints due to its vertical dimension.
- Bathrooms: Don’t forget about your bathroom! Adding touches of nature through art here will help you get closer to having a bathroom that feels like you are walking into a spa. Chances are, here you want more minimalist (maybe monochromatic?) scenes that engage the mind on a more subtle, soothing level. ECHO and IMMERSION are great choices here. By the way: All my acrylic float finishes are sealed and safe to hang in environments where condensation might be an issue.
GUARDIAN ANGEL | Portland Japanese Garden, OR | Highly Collectible Limited Edition of 99
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TIP #3: Choose Together, Don’t Just Present Options To Your Partner
Here’s a lesson I learned the hard way when my wife and I first moved into our West Seattle townhouse. We needed a new couch. We had talked about the overall size, some options for colors and the fact that we wanted a chaise lounge. I thought I was well prepared to go online and start my research. I did, and, excitedly, presented a bunch of what I thought were great options to Katie.
What followed was a look of disdain and disappointment.
Turns out, what I had neglected to account for was the joy of choosing such a central part of our new living room TOGETHER. My wife was excited about going to a few showrooms together, to actually sit on the couches we were considering, and to talk through what we liked and didn’t like about each of them in the moment. I had jumped the gun.
The lesson I took away from it for my budding collectors is this: One of you has most likely found my work before the other knew about it. Don’t discount the joy of browsing the different pieces available together, choosing together, rather than presenting your significant other with a pre-selected menu and the accompanying question: Hey, do you want to buy any of these? It’ll make it much harder for them to fall in love with the art.
So… if you live in the greater Seattle Area, I strongly suggest you make an appointment to come by my gallery and do that browsing in person. If that’s not an option, then carve out some time where you can pull up my website and look through the different works on there TOGETHER. The key here is to explore side by side. You’ll be surprised how quickly you might find a piece of art you both love.
BALANCING ACT | Moulton Falls, WA | Highly Collectible Limited Edition of 99
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TIP #4: Find Out What They Don’t like, Then Use That Information To Find Something They Do Like
If you and your partner can’t agree on a piece of art, have a genuine — hopefully calm — conversation and ask them: What is it that you don’t love? Is it the color of the piece? Is it the finish? The feel of it? The place displayed?
Given my steadfast beliefs in what translates a meditative moment in nature into a beautiful piece of art for your empty walls, I have many images that feel similar but are different enough in their nuances that you might be able to take what you just learned about your partner’s dislikes and find something you still love and they just might, too. Maybe you can agree on a color? Or a particular state or location the artwork depicts? Or maybe you can agree on a format (panorama versus traditional 3:2, or maybe a vertical piece works best in your space?) Start there.
TIP #5: Don’t Be Afraid To Be Eclectic
This is where we are getting to “the art of the compromise” when you look for ways on how to agree with your partner on art. As long as a piece fits into the overall vision for your home, don’t be afraid to be a little eclectic so you both get to express yourselves.
Conflicting tastes, Jennifer Robin of Jennifer Robin Interiors points out, “bring out an interesting, eclectic and more unique design. I always try to discover what makes each partner excited, and where they are willing to compromise with their partner’s vision.”
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TIP #6: Tap Into Your Most Cherished Memories
Photography is a unique medium in art because of its visceral ability to transport you to a particular place in an instant. So as you try to find ways to agree with your partner on a piece of art, maybe you want to start by tapping into your favorite memories: Where are the places you’ve made some of your most meaningful memories together?
Maybe it’s the place you took the kids when they were little. Maybe it’s where your partner proposed to you, or where you spent your honeymoon. Maybe it’s the place that feels like home every time you go there. Maybe it is the place that actually once was home — a place you dearly miss now and would love to revisit more often, if only in your dreams. Such is the power of art: It transports you to the places that mean the most to you. What’s that place where you want to go together, time and again?
"A beautiful piece of art that will always bring us back home. Thank you, Lars!" — Mark Lewis, collected SUNSET SAIL
TIP #7: There Are Different Ways To Alternate Your Art Choosing Privileges
Now, this one might not work for every couple trying to agree with their partner on a piece of art. But my dear collectors Mari and Robert have figured out a different way to deal with their often somewhat clashing tastes in artwork. While Mari prefers expressionist art, Robert is much more drawn to realist pieces.
Their solution, Robert told me: “We alternate. Mari gets to choose a piece of art. Then next time, it’s my turn.” Again, maybe this clear-cut of an approach is not the solution for everyone, but it is something to consider. You could also build in a “last resort veto” option for whoever’s turn it’s not.
Another, slightly different take on this approach is to create themed rooms. Maybe you have a mountain room and a seascape room. Or you have a realist and an expressionist room. The idea is that each one of you gets to take the lead on one room, while the other one has the security blanket of a last resort veto. Again, this works best when you have considered tips #1 and #2 — you have a vision for a space, and you know which spaces to tackle first.
If your partner really loves a piece of art but you don’t, also ask yourself if you can “live with it.” Communicate this clearly and openly — that kind of conciliatory, loving gesture might go a long way in your relationship. Or maybe it’s art that goes into their office, den, or man-cave (are those still a thing???) The point is: If they absolutely love the art and you at least don’t hate it, maybe it’s the right fit for what’s more their space in the house while you keep looking for something for the more equally shared common areas of your home. It’s a win-win.
TIP #8: Be Prepared To Have Answers To Their Questions
Once you showed them the artwork you love, what kinds of questions do you think they will ask? If you want to find ways to agree with your partner on art, anticipate those questions and have answers ready.
Here are some of the most common questions I get asked all the time as people decide whether or not to invest in my work — and handy answers for you to use.
What material is it printed on? All my signature artworks are printed on museum-quality, archival fine art paper. On top of that print then gets pressed a thin layer of scratch- and glare-resistant acrylic. It’s just a 1/8” thick sheet, but that ultra-clear acrylic creates a truly stunning sense of near three dimensionality. It brings out details and leads the mind to believe you’re looking out of a window straight into your favorite place. The acrylic also protects the print from damaging UV light — which leads the manufacturers to guarantee it for 100 years. You’ll truly get an heirloom piece of art.
This is not cheap. Can we afford this? The production process I just mentioned is the most elaborate way to produce a long-lasting, ultra-realistic, awe-inspiring piece of photographic art. Like all things made to last, that comes at a cost. But as part of my Promise of Excellence to you, I believe in quality above all else — that goes from creation through production to the art buying experience. Something you might want to consider is using one of my monthly payment plans through Affirm or Art Money. You’ll get the art right away and split the cost into low, monthly payments. Questions? Just reach out.
How do the limited editions work? Each of my signature series fine art pieces is released as a limited edition of 50 or 99. As the editions sell through, the price increases to reflect increased scarcity. Once all editions are sold, the image will be retired and never sold again. That means now is the best time for you and your partner to agree on the art you love and secure it at the best price.
Is this easy to hang? Yes. The artwork will arrive securely packed at your doorstep with all the hanging hardware required included, and installation is usually as simple as putting a few screws in the wall. If you are in the greater Seattle Area, I also offer complimentary in-home art placement consultations as well as white glove installation services. I’ll confirm with you after your order whether that’s something you’d like to take advantage of.
Do we need a frame? This comes entirely down to personal taste and budget considerations. Probably about 90 percent of my collectors end up choosing the acrylic floats rather than putting a frame around them, though. It’s a very clean, more contemporary way to present art, and you don’t have to worry whether the style of the frame matches your overall interior design. That being said, each of my frames is handmade by Italian artisans from beautifully-textured olive wood — they are a piece of art in and of itself. The choice is yours!
TIP #9: Get help making the right decision
Trust me, I get it… Confidently choosing the right art for your home from such a plethora of options out there can feel utterly overwhelming. You may be tempted to just put off the decision and maybe revisit that empty wall in a few months (real talk, though: Chances are, you won’t. I’ve lost count of how many collectors have come to me telling me they’ve been meaning to hang some art on that empty wall for years).
There’s a better way. Get proactive, and enlist some qualified help.
Now, I am no certified marriage counselor, but I have helped many couples over the years finding — and agreeing on — artwork that perfectly fits their space and their personalities. Along the way, I’ve developed three helpful, free services (services that go beyond these posts in my HOMEWARD JOURNAL) to help you get there. You might want to consider taking advantage of as many of them as you need as you make your decision.
My complimentary, no-commitment art consultations: Let me point you the right way. I have more than a hundred different artworks for you to choose from, each of them with a deeply personal story and unique characteristics that might make one fit your space, your story, your vision, better than the other. We can either jump on a phone or FaceTime/Zoom call, you can come to my gallery, or, if you are in the greater Seattle Area, I also do in-home consultations where I might be able to bring a piece of art or two to find the right marriage between art and space. I’ve even partnered up with a local interior designer who at no cost to you will help walk you through how to choose the right piece for your interior design style or how to fit a piece you really love into your existing interior design. Book your consultation now.
My mockup service: If your disagreements are mostly about not being able to visualize what the art you or your partner loves would actually look like in your space, or what size works best for your space, my free mockup service can help get you confident answers to both those questions quickly and efficiently. Request a mockup now.
My No-Worry-Guarantee: As part of my commitment to making the art buying experience stress-free and fun, I am proud to offer all my collectors my No-Worry-Guarantee, which includes 90-day, no-questions-asked returns if you choose a piece of art but end up hating it once it hangs in your space. Now, I’ll be honest: Part of the reason why I can take the financial risk of producing a custom artwork for you that might be returned to me is because to this day, no one has ever taken me up on this guarantee — that’s how confident I am that you, too, will absolutely love the piece once you see it hanging in your space. But I realize that it’s nice to know that you have a worst-case safety net. Just please don’t abuse this by buying art that you already know you don’t intend to keep. I trust you.
TIP #10: Agree to disagree
Now, this might not be the smartest thing to say for my small business’s bottom line, but sometimes it’s just best to agree to disagree. If none of the aforementioned strategies worked, then maybe you need to decide to move on. There is a world of art out there — and eventually, you’ll find something you both love. I mean it when I say that the art buying experience should be fun and stress-free. If choosing my art adds undue, consistent stress to your life right now, then maybe you and I are not the right fit at this time. No hard feelings.
But please, do me one favor, if it does come to this point: Don’t harbor resentment toward your significant other because you failed to agree on the art that you loved. As much as I have tried to figure out over the years what rational ways drive peoples’ decision to buy art, what I’ve consistently learned is this: Buying art needs to happen from the heart first, and only second from the head.
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