We live in the Golden Age of Collage—an era in which you can gather your favorite blog posts from all over the Internet and stick them on one tidy web page; a time when mixing sleek Mid-century finds with a dash of Maker Movement kitsch is a style in itself. But despite the full-on obsession with creating the perfect frame cluster, even the most daring of decor mavens are hesitant to refer to their carefully curated print collection as art.

Luckily, when it comes to your own walls, art doesn’t have to mean owning an original Picasso painting. “Start small,” says Lina Mati, a founding member of the NYC-based curatorial art group Collective Council, whose inaugural gallery collection includes fine art pieces from ArtHaz, Gallery Les Looms and Collective Council members’ personal acquisitions and work. “Add things slowly. Take that first step. Don’t be afraid. Just start.”

The anointed Queen of Frame Clusters got her start set decorating for music videos and has since worked in home styling and staging—long story short, she knows a thing or two about how to hang a picture. “Decorating is about taking ownership of your space and the things you own, and art is part of that,” Lina says. “Often I give friends the gift of their first piece, just to get them rolling, or we’ll go on hunts together.”

Sadly, the lovely Lina can’t accompany each and every one of us on our initial art buying outing, but her tips for building your collection can, so happy hunting! And don’t forget to check out the Parisian portrait posters in the Fab vintage shop, starting tonight.

1. Don’t think you can afford to start an art collection? Think again. “If you look in the right places, you can find things within your price point.” The Rosebowl Flea Market in L.A., Brooklyn Flea in NYC and Chicago’s Wright auction house are all good places to start.

“Or start saving for it!”—ever spent a couple months pining after an especially expensive pair of shoes? Setting money aside for an important art piece is the same thing (except an original line drawing retains its value much better than your well-loved-and-well-worn Rachel Comeys!).

2. Stop believing that you can’t mix high end and low end pieces. Do you have a set of precious Polaroids from your parent’s early marriage? That counts as art—and when beautifully framed, fits right in beside your Ben Shahn drawings. “It’s all about juxtaposition.”

3. Play around. If you don’t like something, “sell it, gift it, trade it—you don’t have to keep it!” Even something precious loses personal value when you don’t want to look at it.

4. Concerned that all your favorite pieces don’t go together? “Frame everything in the same type of frame, or in the same color,” or start out with all one type of collection, like a group of black and white photographs. “And don’t forget to lay out the pieces on the floor or a tabletop before you start hanging—that’s the best way to see how each piece fits with the next.” 

5. Choose a frame style that suits you. “If gold framing is intimidating, then start off with something clean and modern. Even when you have an antique oil painting paired with a modern pop print, when you put it in a plain white frame everything feels modern, and each piece fits together along that theme.“ Little by little, you’ll become more comfortable with the arrangement. Just start with one constant and then bring in one change at a time. 


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