How Do you Hang your Art?

Over the years, I’ve had many collectors and students’ parents seeking advice on how to hang their proud art collection. In this blog post, I will share some common recurring questions, and hopefully they will answer some of your own.





How large should the art be?


Your art should be roughly half your wall space.


Marching the appropriate art size with wall size is possibly the most common recurring issue. Most people pick art that is too small.


Most of us deal with A4 or letter size paper on a regular basis. Our commonsense tricks us into believing anything larger (A3 or 11x17”) is large! However, when it comes to hanging art on the wall, we need to stop comparing art sizes with our printer paper.


Start comparing our art size with TV size, it would immediately make much more sense. In 2022, a 11x17” TV sounds awfully small, doesn’t it? Last week I was discussing floor plan for my upcoming museum show in Varna, Bulgaria with the Quarantine Film Festival. Even a 40-inch TV didn’t sound large at all.






Does the Art have to be Exactly Half the Wall Size?


Well, not exactly.


Sometimes we can use visual tricks.


We want enough breathing space around the art, so that your eyes can travel around art. Breathing space means empty wall space. Having enough wall space also highlights the art.


If you’ve been in museums where there is only one piece of art on one wall. The visual display is giving you subtle clues that this piece is IMPORTANT!


This seems contradictory to what I’d just said. I said art should be half of the wall size. Yes, museums use this trick to put lots and lots of space around art to highlight its importance. Yet, the institutional endorsement, alongside a pristine art-dedicated space and the curator’s official caption also highlight that importance.


In a domestic setting where the space is multifunctional (art display and lived in), small art on a huge wall is competing for attention with other furniture and household items, and of course the various devices.



Please don't do that...


How Do You Know if Your Art is the Right Size?


If it doesn’t look quite right, you are probably right! Your eyes want to calibrate and compensate for the imbalance instead of focusing on the art. Ask someone to hold the small piece on a different smaller wall to see if it feels better. If yes, the wall is too large.



Tip: if you truly want to hang a small piece on a specific (larger) wall, you can


1. Add a thicker mat board if the size difference is minimal.

2. Cluster a few similar pieces together until they make up roughly half of the wall space.










Make Sure your Art is ALWAYS Centred and Levelled!


Even if you don’t have OCD, a crooked artwork is enough to drive you insane! Unless you have a very good reason, always centre your art on a wall.


When you hang a cluster of similar artworks together, the gaps on either side are usually wider than between the pieces. This is a subtle visual clue to inform the viewers that these pieces belong to a group.





Displaying your Little Humans’ Art without Breaking the Bank


Your little human has made a masterpiece of which the whole family is so proud. You want to showcase it to the world in your living room. The best advice requires a bit of pre-planning. Whenever possible, make art in conventional sizes. That means A4, A3, A2 etc. in the metric system, or 8x10”, 11x14”/11x17”, 20x24” in the imperial system or 4K, 8k in the Chinese Mainland system. These are popular sizes that you can easily find local readymade frames for.


It may not be always possible. Maybe the art teacher is using a special art paper. Maybe the masterpiece was made in the spur of the moment and pre-planning was not possible. In that case, get the frame next size up and also a piece of large black kraft paper or matt (not glossy or shiny!) black cardboard from the stationary/dollar store. Cut the black paper to size and put it under the artwork inside the frame. Use glue stick to gently adhere the artwork onto the black paper so that it won’t slide around. Viola!




Conclusion


Once you’ve had enough practice, you’d develop an eye for hanging art in your own home or office. Trust your gut. If it looks good, it probably does. If something doesn’t look quite right, chances are it could use some fixing. Art installation is an art of its own. I always leave it to a professional art installer for my exhibitions, even for my student exhibition.



Recent student exhibition at PMQ, Hong Kong in December 2021.


Do you have disaster art hanging stories to share? Please leave a comment below! If you have more questions on art installation, leave a comment below! If you’re in Hong Kong and in need of a professional art installer, hit me up for a referral!




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