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  • Writer's pictureJules

Can fine art be applied to products?

Recently, while pondering how difficult it was to sell fine art, and whether there was only a certain type of person who would buy an original on canvas, I started researching items that were selling and what they were like.

(It's worth pointing out, that as with everything, there are always exceptions to the rule. Yes I'm talking specifically about items I like, that are in my Instagram feed, from artists that I appreciate. But, I'm hoping that in the specific lies the universal and you'll find it useful.)

So, as far as I can see, there are two groups:

1) Fine art for interior walls

2) Art on products

Art for walls will generally be textural, atmospheric and will play with the edges of the canvas. I have lots of wonderful artworks curated on my Pinterest page, if you want to see examples of art that fits this description. It's hard to separate individual items from the overall scene, as they all work together to make the one image. This kind of art feels more subjective for some reason, as it can be really emotive for some, and not do anything for another.

Uses: art for walls, editorial images, book covers, placemats, coasters and greetings cards.

Art for products seem to have more distinct edges (less textural), more shape based, and are probably more similar to repeat patterns than they are to artworks that depict an overall scene. Their main elements tend to be away from the edges and less likely to overlap or blend together.

Uses: textiles (bedding, cushions, fabric, clothing), homewares (cups, teapots, notebooks, sculptures, wrapping paper, wallpaper, coasters, murals).

Are there exceptions to this?

Este McLeod has managed to get her very textural and atmospheric paintings to be used as wallpaper, although her work does lend itself to being repeated in a pattern more than most. Belynda Henry has also had rugs made of her work, but once again her artwork is much more shape and pattern-based.

Why is there this distinction?

The production process itself can sometimes be the limiting factor:

+ Screen printing and offset printing has less colours available than digital printing, therefore lends itself to less "blended" images

+ Wrapping paper, wallpaper and fabric are most versatile when they can be used in multiple directions with a repeat pattern

+ Murals make more of an impact (compared to wallpaper which can recede visually) if it is made up of big bold contrasting shapes

+ Book covers have a definite "right-way-up" because text needs to be legible, so lend themselves more to intricate images.

I have only briefly covered some thoughts on this, but it is clear to me that this is a much bigger topic than I initially thought. I will have to research it a bit more and see if there are any other pointers that may influence my direction of art. Elizabeth Gilbert said she never asked her art to pay for her, but is it really in the lap of the gods? Can we not find some common patterns or answers to where to head?

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