How To Hang Art
elevate any room. But don't despair - you don't need an extensive collection of fine art; a few well-chosen pieces and some professional know-how can create quite an effect. We spoke to a gallery owner, hotelier and interiors expert for the top tips on how to get it right.
Are there some surfaces that aren’t suitable for hanging?
“From both a practical and aesthetic point of view I would avoid hanging anything on tiled or glass surfaces,” says Jess Miles, Head of Art at hotel group Artist Residence. “If hanging on a stud wall it’s best to steer clear of framed pieces with glass due to weight restrictions. Opt for a lightweight canvas or tapestry instead.”
What supplies do I need?
“A handyman! They have all the right tools and knowledge to ensure that the surface you’re hanging on won’t get damaged in the process or that you won’t start drilling into an electrical circuit,” says Jess. “It also depends on where you’re hanging and what wall type,” explains Louise FitzJohns, Galleries Director at Jealous Galleries. “In homes, the most common is into plaster or brickwork, in which case you need a drill, rawl plugs (which are the same size as your drill), screws (which are the same width as your rawl plugs), a pencil, a spirit level and a tape measure. Possibly a calculator if your maths isn’t great!”
How should I measure where to hang my art?
“If it's a large wall with nothing sitting under the artwork, then the typical midpoint used in galleries and museums is 160cm,” advises Louise. “This is where the middle of the artwork should hang. In which case measure the overall height of the artwork, then work out the middle. Then either stretch the string upwards (as if it was resting on 2 screws) and measure how many additional cms from the middle of the frame this is. Then add this number onto 160cm (the mid-point) and you have your measurement of where to mark the height of the work on the wall. Then mark where the screws will go; you want them to be far enough apart that the artwork stays secure and steady in one place, although not so far apart that you can’t get the string to sit onto the screws! It all depends on the size of the artwork you’re installing.
Once marked up, use the spirit level to ensure that the marks are exactly in line and start drilling!”
“If you’re hanging artwork that will sit above or below something then I usually do this by eye,” continues Louise. “Ask a buddy to hold the artwork for you and move it around until you find a placement you’re happy with. Mark where the centre of the top of the artwork is on the wall, then pull the string upwards again, but this time measure the distance between the string and the top of the frame, then mark this on the wall, using your previous centre mark as a start point, and you have the height measured! Then repeat as above for the distance between the screws.”
Emma Jane Palin, an interiors expert (emmajanepalin.com), loves to create multi-image walls in her home. “Measure out the wall area first and replicate the same dimensions on the floor. You can then plan out your gallery wall and play around with placement. Choose your starting piece to hang first and measure the same distance between each print after to create a uniform look.”
Should all my frames match or can they be different?
“At Artist Residence we would rather have artwork framed to best enhance the piece, which often gives you lots of different frames,” says Jess. “Mixing and matching frames will bring you a more eclectic and maximalist look,” agrees Emma, “while standardised frames will look chic and more luxe. If you are mixing frames, make sure you take into account your placement as you don't want too many of the same styles in the same area.”
Can I mix and match image sizes and styles?
“Absolutely, the more mixed the better, this can work especially well when combining antique or vintage imagery with contemporary,” says Louise. “Let larger pieces take the focal point, whereas the medium to small pieces lead the eye around the wall creating visual fluidity,” explains Jess.
Emma agrees: “Gallery walls tend to work when there is a mix of mediums and styles so do think outside the box and look for images using photography, illustration and typography. The display is a great way of showing off your personality, so embrace it and incorporate all the things you love.”
What are the common mistakes of gallery walls?
“Not planning out your hang before you start drilling away at the walls!” says Jess. “Sizes and layouts in your mind never translate as you imagine on the wall. We always do a to-scale mock-up of the wall and art on photoshop, but for a simpler fix, cut out sheets of brown paper to scale with your artwork and move them around on the wall until you are happy with the layout sizing, then lay all of the artwork out on the floor in the same layout and take a photo so you remember what goes where.”
“People try to copy hangs they’ve seen elsewhere,” Louise reflects. “It works best in a home environment when they are pieces you genuinely adore and compile together, giving a beautiful sense of identity and unity through organised chaos.”
“A common mistake is not giving each picture enough breathing space,” notes Emma. “There is such a thing as going over the top when it comes to a gallery wall. You still want to be able to see some of the wall behind it. Measure between each print; I'd recommend leaving around 5-10cm between each frame depending on your preference.”
Where on the wall should I hang art?
“The place your eyes are drawn to when you walk into a room is a good place to hang art,” says Jess. “If the art is valuable or delicate, try to stay out of bathrooms, above radiators or in direct/harsh sunlight as this may damage the piece. However, a good framer would recommend specialised components, such as UV glass, if you are concerned.”
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