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Linda Blair: the former ASID president and Artexpo educator talks art, design and everything in between.


How does the art you select for an interior design project work in conjunction with the design scheme you've planned?

There are times when art is absolutely driven by design, but that's not to say we don't want a bit of discord in a space. Art can certainly achieve this look much more effectively than a pillow that is a different color. We need the activity; we need to look at walls. Some high-end designers will build a room around, for example, a rug or a painting, but more often than not, art is somewhat of an afterthought, especially in the corporate sector.

What can you tell our readers that will help them better understand what interior designers are looking for when working with an artist or gallery?

A designer might be looking for 60 elements in a space, and of the 60, they have to judiciously make sure the elements either complement or accent each other. It's all about size, scale and color. It's also about the subject matter. Most people know nothing about art, and they're looking for guidance as to what they should get. The best insight I can give for working with interior designers is that resources make it easy for us. If you make it hard for us, we'll go elsewhere. The galleries that make it easy on me by communicating, providing images, etc.--those are the ones I'm going to try.

So galleries and artists should make everything in their portfolios as easily accessible to designers as possible?

Right, but that's only one piece of the puzzle. The second piece is the information surrounding it. We all like the romance of something. For instance, if a gallery owner wants to place a piece of art and is able to say, "This series by this artist is very whimsical. This is the first time the artist is using whites ..." then there's a story there. That story is told to the designer, and he or she passes it on to the client. Then the designer can say, "I love the way it picks up your antique grandfather clock in the foyer; look how this painting has pulled it all together."

Again, we're designers. We're talking about this from a design point of view. To see a painting and fall in love with it and have it break your heart every time you look at it, that's another story. That's a personal thing. Designers aren't necessarily incredibly knowledgeable about art. I think working with designers is definitely somewhat of an untouched area for galleries, but I think many designers need to have their hands held; they need coaching. It's important for them to have art providers who are willing to send them art, loan them pieces and let them bring it into the homes of their clients.

You re holding a seminar at Artexpo New York as part of the 2009 International Art Business Conference, presented by Art Business News. Can you give us an overview of what you'll be discussing?

I'm going to discuss the kinds of things I'm telling you! I'm going to discuss how to capture the imagination of the designer and what personal contact means. Even if you just say to the designer, "I understand what you like. I understand how your design works. I know the kind of thing that will go well with your style"--the designer will be blown away! Then he or she will pass it on to their client.


How has the industry changed since you first released your book, "Design Sense: A Guide to Getting the Most from Your Interior Design investment"?

The way people access things has completely changed, and everybody's an expert now. But you've still got to see it and touch it. Designers don't do very well long-distance. We don't do well with catalogs; they're never what they look like. Designers are visual people, and if you approach us in a way that is not visual, then you had better have some facts to romance us with. We can tell a little bit from a photo, but never the whole story.

I also think the range of art has broadened. Because we have a global economy, we have many things that are international, particularly Asian-influenced, and many things are handmade.

You don't seem like the type of designer who changes with styles and trends from year to year.

I don't change much, but I do design simpler environments with less because today, it's about a cleaner look. I don't really follow the trends. Truthfully, a trend is ridiculous. If you like wearing pants with cuffs, wear pants with cuffs, whether it's trendy or not. I encourage people to buy what they like and keep it forever.

How can artists make their work more marketable to the interior design trade without compromising their integrity?

I think artists have a muse inside them; they have their vision. For someone to say, "Put apples in the picture," it's too intrusive. The idea of an art series is interesting, though. I do a lot of multiples, and I think it's a very big market for interior designers-groupings of art and series that relate--because it gives us a story to tell about how they relate. Would I, as a designer, like to hear that somebody deliberately came out with something for the quote "interior designer?" No, I'd be appalled.

Is that something you've seen become more prevalent since the economic downturn--someone trying to market their art so they can hit a bottom line as opposed to marketing art for art's sake?

Well, I have to tell you that I think everybody thinks about that. Everybody thinks about making a profit or a commission. As unfortunate as it seems, that's what you have to do to a certain extent because you have to pay your expenses. I guess the important thing is to keep at it. Make a list of everyone you've ever met, send them a brief newsletter, and keep approaching people. Certainly for designers, just make it easy.

Linda Blair, ASID, owns Blair Interiors Group, a New York-based firm of project managers, designers and architects. Blair's design ideas have appeared in numerous publications, including her New York Post column, on national television and in her book, "Design Sense: A Guide to Getting the Most from Your Interior Design Investment."

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Title Annotation:Q&A; American Society of Interior Designers
Comment:Linda Blair: the former ASID president and Artexpo educator talks art, design and everything in between.(Q&A)(American Society of Interior Designers)
Author:Wilmering, Michael
Publication:Art Business News
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2009
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