To create an interior space is to do more than fill it. As with furniture, art plays a vital role in giving a space its heart, albeit in a much different way.
We recently spoke with the founder of ArtStar, Chrissy Crawford, on the subject of enlivening interiors and why art can be one of the most daunting parts of a buildout. If you’re not familiar with ArtStar, they self-describe as a curated online platform for the best contemporary art. In speaking with Chrissy, we found kinship with her commitment and dedication to helping clients — from individuals to trained eyes in the A&D community to hurried building managers — with care and personalization.
Karen John: What inspired you to build ArtStar?
Chrissy Crawford: A lack of options for art. There was little access to anything more aspirational than wall decor and less expensive than investing in gallery art. Plus, the art market was one of the last to move online, so collectors and buyers historically had to spend a lot of time hunting to find pieces. ArtStar makes it easy to discover and collect fine art anywhere, anytime.
How can art help in interior projects?
Art is the first thing the eye goes to in a room. It can bring color and personality into a space. Projects are unfinished until they have art.
How do you consider the relationship between art and design?
There is a great Instagram account called Art in Ugly Rooms. Art cannot make up for bad design and vice versa. They need to complement and inspire each other in a space.
What has been important for reaching and serving your commercial audience?
Working with tastemakers. There is a lot of insecurity around art. Just because it’s expensive does not mean it’s “good.” Tastemakers show the trade how to use art in their space and that they don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a stellar collection.
How do you build community with your artists and clientele?
We are very hands-on with our clients. A few were at my wedding! Every client is important to us, and ArtStar’s customer service is our best tool for customer retention.
What’s a definitive lesson you’ve learned in this business?
Oh, man! So many! Personally, that I need to take care of myself to build a great business. Professionally, to listen to mentors before explaining why I might do things a certain way. Always listen and reflect, don’t just answer and explain; founders can be too close to their product, and outside opinions are invaluable.
How has being a woman shaped your experience?
Being female has always been helpful in my career. Women in the workplace and positions of leadership are having a moment right now and press wants to tell our stories. I have strong female mentors, friends, and co-workers who help me make it to the next goal.
You’ve been such a good sport. Any questions for us?
Why do you think there’s a shift away from beige in the workspace? We’re finding more offices care about design and are open to color. What do you think is causing this change in attitude?
I’m of the belief that nobody changed the world surrounded by beige! There’s been a real diffusion of design in everyday life since the world became flatter. It’s raised people’s awareness and appreciation for their surroundings both at work and at home, and these spheres have increasingly merged and blended. Forward companies today get that. They’re thinking more thoughtfully about how spaces can inspire and shape teams, culture, and, in turn, their success. Color, like art, is an opportunity to express oneself in a given space. It’s about making the workspace one’s own, and we’re cool with that.