“Everything you can imagine is real.” – Pablo Piscasso

You have imagined, and you have dreamed. You have acted, and you have created. Your business is the realization of both your innovation and your hard work. Now it is time to convey a cohesive message to talent, clients, customers, and partners… This is who we are. You do this through your craftsmanship, your commitment to service, your embodiment of your values. And you can do it with the art you choose.

Art makes a statement to everyone who walks through your doors. How do you ensure that it is speaking your brand’s language?

6 Tips to Choose Artwork for Your Business

As professionals, we deal with complexity daily: whether it is electrical, plumbing, or digital systems, flooring and foundations, or the intricacies of interior design, our community is well versed in critical thinking, problem-solving… and making it all work. But when it comes to art, many of us feel lost at sea. It can feel intimidating — which is why we went right to the source. Jill Lehman, founder of High Frequency Arts, shares her top tips for choosing artwork that creates an engaging environment and helps tell your brand story.

1. Start with Your End Goal

When you think about your interior design, you are going for more than the aesthetic. You are also considering:

  • Your culture and core values
  • How your people work — and how they do their best work
  • The outcomes you want to achieve from your physical space

The same holds true when it comes to the artwork you choose for your business. What does it need to look and feel like in order to drive those goals, outcomes, and values? Start with your end goals in mind. As Jill explains, “Align the artwork to your business, not just to your furnishings.”

2. Identify Your Decision-Makers

You’ve heard the expression, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”? This is especially true of art. It is highly personal, meant to evoke some type of emotion or response in the viewer. Rarely do all people agree on a piece’s beauty or value or representation. To make streamlined decisions, identify your decision-maker(s). Who will be making the selection when it comes to a final product?

Remember, in a commercial environment, art sends a message to your stakeholders. This is who we are. The decision-maker should keep this top of mind. A piece may grab them personally, for example, but will it grab employees? Customers? Partners?

It’s all about the goals! Will this piece drive outcomes in terms of talent attraction? Retention? Customer experience? If not, it may not be the best fit for your business.

3. Establish an Art Budget

In many cases, art is a last piece, or an afterthought if there is room left in the interior design or decor budget. But as Jill says, “A blank wall is a lost opportunity.” If we leave visual aspects and elements out of our space, we lose some ground we could be making towards business-building goals.

It’s no different in a work environment than in a restaurant, Jill explains. “We eat with our eyes. We experience things with our eyes visually first. It’s the first impression of our organization when we’re looking to attract talent. It is the visual reminders of our goals, our visions, our values… of everything we’re trying to create.”

If it is not in the budget, art tends to get lost in the overall category of “decor.” We lose those opportunities to create an impactful environment that drives the outcomes we want.

4. Align the Artist with Your Business

You can source art that not only pairs with your business from a visual and aesthetic standpoint, but whose stories relate to who you are as an organization. If you are in the healthcare space, for example, you may select work by an emerging artist who works in the field or who has been heavily involved because of a health condition or issue. There is tremendous value in the story an artist can tell, and in their story.

What if an artist’s work visually represents the elements you are interested in and striving for —but their story does not align with your business? For instance, a brand may be focused on and proud of their distinction as a certified woman owned business. What does it say, then, if their art is not by diversity artists? Or if they are predominantly created by men?

This is not to say that these artists do not have value, but in this case, the art can muddy the message that the brand is working to convey. In other words, you may miss out on a valuable connection, not only visually but in terms of who the creator is within that story, if the artist does not align with your business.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Go Original

Original art is too expensive. That’s why I buy prints.

Van Gogh’s Meules de blé (Wheat Stacks) recently sold for $35.8 million, so we see your point! But fortunately, there is original art at all price points. The key is to find an artist and work that pairs to your goals and can deliver the quality and value for which you are looking within your budget.

Jill says that she does cost comparisons with clients to weigh the expense of buying prints versus buying original work by similar artists. In many cases, she can match the budget; in other cases, the cost is even less as there are fewer associated fees (e.g. shipping).

For tighter budgets, don’t be afraid to look into local art, as well as a combination of both original works and prints. There is nothing wrong with mixing and matching! Another way to stretch those dollars is to use prints primarily with an original piece for your most prominent space (e.g. entryway, main conference room). Its visibility allows it to deliver the most value.

6. Work with a Consultant

Jill says, “Art is a blue ocean; it’s not a small pond.” Often, we gravitate towards artists with whom we are familiar, but there is an entire world to explore. And this is where it can get intimidating! It’s more complex than “This looks nice,” or “I like it.” Art creates a story; it is what people remember about your space; it is what attracts them to you.

Working with an art consultant allows you to navigate that blue ocean with confidence. Firms like High Frequency Art make the process easy, from helping you select artwork that better tells a story to moving through the logistics of procurement and project management. Jill and her team focus on creating a “safe, inviting space to help you with your art needs.”

Hub & Spoke is driven to create a safe, inviting space for tenants, makers, and learners in our community. We knew art was integral in this mission — and we knew we needed assistance. Drawing from her deep reservoir of knowledge and connections, Jill curates our artwork and creates new “exhibits” with fresh pieces quarterly. Highlighting wonderful works by local artists aligns with our vision and brand; Jill ensures we send the right message by sourcing art that helps us tell our story.

Tell Your Story

Choosing artwork in your place of work is not an afterthought; it is integral in helping you tell your story in a compelling way, in a way that resonates with the people who can help build your business.

To learn more about choosing artwork for your place of work, stop by and see the High Frequency team at the Hub & Spoke Design Center.