In the same way that a song can “take you back”, art has a way of reminding us who we were at different points in our life, and it’s why you should start an art collection for your kids.
If you’re a parent, you’ve no doubt saved stacks of your child’s artwork…as well you should. The art a child creates is a priceless memory of their development and perspective throughout childhood. But collecting and curating an art collection for them, based on their personality and preferences, gives them a unique look back at who they were at different stages of growing up. It’s a special and unconventional sort of scrapbook your child can take with them when they leave the nest.
The concept of starting an art collection for your kids presupposes that you care about art to a certain degree, and that you like interior design and/or decorating your kids’ rooms. It also requires knowing your child well enough to understand what artwork has staying power and what they would ultimately grow out of. This incredible original watercolor by Christine Sweet is the latest addition in Hannah’s personal collection, and it’s something I know she’ll hang in her own house someday.
I’ve been curating a personal art collection for both of my girls for a few years now. As such, I’ve gained some knowledge about the process, what works and what doesn’t, and I’m happy to pass along what I’ve learned so you can start an art collection for your kids.
Starting an Art Collection For Your Kids
The idea to create a personal, heirloom-quality art collection for my girls started when I was designing their big-girl bedrooms in our current home. Hannah is in high school, so when I was working on her bedroom, I chose art that was classic and versatile enough to be hung in her own home someday…kind of like a hope chest of artwork. Did you have a hope chest that your mother filled with items you could take with you once you had your own home? I did. It’s definitely an outdated tradition now, but I love the idea of creating a space for your child that’s filled with things (including art) they can enjoy in their own home someday instead of things you’ll have to figure out what to do with when they move out.
That said, if you are designing your child’s nursery or toddler room, this concept may be a bit tricky, as you don’t even know your child’s full personality yet. But, if you want to start their personal art collection early, choose classic pieces that can grow with them instead of baby-ish, trendy, or character artwork. That brings me to my first point about what to consider when starting an art collection for your kids…
Consider Your Child’s Age: If your child is a baby but you want to start an art collection for them now, consider a smaller, original piece you could layer in a bookcase like I did in Noelle’s room. I can confidently predict that Noelle will still love decorating with color when she is an adult, so investing in this small, original floral piece by CT Macey was money well spent. I framed it in a gorgeous vintage gilt frame from an estate sale and layered it in front of a watercolor piece Hannah painted (aka: free). It’s all about that balance.
My girls are older, so I really have a handle on their personalities and preferences and can invest in pieces that I know will still be appealing to them in their adult years, even if some of the art ends up in their own kids’ rooms. Again, if your kids are really young or you aren’t confident with the concept of creating an art collection of their own, start with one small piece and add to their collection slowly over the years. I would give anything to go back and intentionally start their collections at younger ages…I wonder what those pieces would have looked like.
Look at Art Through Your Adult Eyes: In other words, would you hang this in your home if you had your child’s style? This requires really knowing your child and distinguishing your style from theirs. For instance, I wouldn’t hang all of the artwork in Noelle’s personal collection in my home (only because of the pastel colors), but if I were her as an adult, I absolutely would. It’s still her taste, but versatile and sophisticated enough for the adult version of her. These darling vintage pressed flowers I thrifted are something just about anyone can appreciate as a kid or an adult.
The art in Hannah’s room is a bit more my style, and though I’m not crazy about New York City the way she is, I would hang most of her art collection in my home. But a lot of the art I chose in their early years did not have staying power. It was either trendy, completely lacking in personality, or too young-looking to grow with my girls. And to be clear, it’s okay if you choose to use art like that. Just know that your kids most likely won’t be interested in taking it with them to their own home (which is totally fine too).
Noelle may grow out of the pink abstract dog print, but that dimensional ballerina print is an heirloom piece I hope to see in her home one day.
Invest in Signed Prints and Originals as Much as Possible:
I’ve always dreamed of having an insane art collection, with each piece being one-of-a-kind and having it’s own story. I’m working on it slowly, but hoping to give my girls an earlier start than I had. Whenever I can afford it, I purchase original pieces for them. Originals are the cream of the crop and always a good investment if you love art. After that, signed prints would be the next best option, and finally, high-quality, physical prints. If you frequent thrift stores, sometimes you’ll come across original art for a few dollars, like this piece I found at Goodwill for $5.99.
Remember though, not every piece of art in their room needs to be a part of their forever collection. The whole point of a starting an art collection for your kids is to curate a visual reminder of who they are and what their personal style is. So, if you cannot afford to invest in signed prints and/or originals, that’s okay. Printable art can be an important part of their collection when it’s chosen with thought and meaning behind it. Oh, and if you draw or paint, original art made by you adds a uniqueness no other art, original or otherwise, ever could. I painted these flowers for Hannah’s room, and she has insisted that they will stay with her forever.
The abstract pieces stacked on top of the florals I created are from the amazingly talented Laura McCarty.
Educate Your Kids About Their Art Collection: In order to foster an appreciation for art, you need to take the helm in educating your children each time you add a piece to their collection. Let them try the mediums of art you purchase…pastels, watercolor, oil painting, acrylic, photography, collage, sculpture, etc. and familiarize them with artists who specialize in those mediums. Also, one very important part of art education and appreciation is learning about the artists you buy from. Whether it’s one-of-a-kind art or a digital download anyone can access, there is a creator behind each piece, and I find it such a joy to share with my girls the person who created something that is now a part of their story of growing up.
The flower art below was made from sea glass by a local artist and will always remind Noelle of her Southern California roots.
As a newlywed, I remember feeling so detached from who I was growing up. It took years for me to rediscover who Marynn was, and then even longer for that rediscovery to inform my interior design choices. I want my girls to be able to start their own homes with a clear picture of who they are and remember the upbringing that shaped them. I know their personal art collections will help do that.
It’s a small part of their story and may not be something every family wants to do. But if you love art like I do, this is one thoughtful way to pass on that love and give your kids an art collection they’ll treasure forever.
Would you start an art collection for your kids? Or maybe you have already. Let’s talk about it in the comments below!