How to Talk About Art Without Sounding Pretentious | NZ Fine Prints

How to Talk About Art Without Sounding Pretentious

Art is something that we will all encounter in many places in our lives—whether it’s in the reception of an office where you are trying to impress, a friend's home as you pop over for tea, or in its natural habitat, the many galleries that house art up and down New Zealand. But there’s a problem with eyeing up a piece of art and deciding whether to make a comment - the all-encompassing fear of sounding ‘pretentious’. When did enjoying art mean that we must learn ‘art jargon’ in order to talk about it at a level that’s ‘passable’ within the art community? 

Surely, we can just learn to enjoy art and make a passing comment that isn’t unnecessarily snobby sounding. After all, it’s entirely possible to simply enjoy art and just talk about it casually; everyone loves a good yarn! So, without further ado, here are some insightful tips on how to talk about art without feeling queasy about it!

A couple looking and discussing some art prints on display.
What to say about your friend's new art prints? 

Use words everyone understands

Dispel the preconceived notion that you must learn a whole new vocabulary to talk about a piece of art. If you aren’t confident talking about art and find yourself hesitating because you don’t understand what ‘chiaroscuro’ means, then just try to say the words that do come to mind when you see a painting. There’s nothing wrong with just saying you like the shadows or the dark colours in a painting. It becomes a lot easier to talk about art when you start with what you understand. As you become fluent in your own art language, the more complex terms will start to make a lot more sense as well.

 

Keep the detail limited unless prompted

If you’re really encouraged to say things about art (for example, in a situation when you’re around an art boffin and put on the spot to talk about their latest piece) and you aren’t feeling super confident, then just keep your message short and sweet. Stick to one thing you like about the piece, whether that be colour, composition, texture, tone pattern or anything else. Say what you choose to say with confidence and assurance.

 

Tap into your own personal reactions or feelings

Talking about art is usually just boiled down to how the art makes you feel. If you don’t know how to talk about the specific details of the art piece, it can be equally as valuable to discuss how the art made you personally feel or react. Use similar words that you would use to talk about your emotions, such as ‘angry’, ‘calm’, or ‘excited’. It can be as simple as capturing your first impression and putting that into words.

 

Sound pretentious if you want to!

Maybe you’re actually extremely enthusiastic about a piece of art, and you’ve read up about its history and happen upon a piece of art that you’re extremely passionate and know a lot about. If you’re enjoying talking about the art, don’t worry about sounding pretentious! Don’t present a dulled down version of yourself just to conform to the rules of the art world - or anyone else’s world for that matter! Art is something that spreads joy, and if it makes you happy to talk extensively about it, then go ahead. Your confidence and enthusiasm will be a breath of fresh air for whoever you’re talking to. Depending on who it is, they may even enjoy learning something new.

 

There are no mistakes

As a great artist, Bob Ross, once said, “There are no mistakes, just happy accidents”. Take this piece of advice the next time you feel like speaking up about a piece of art, and just go ahead. If you like art, express yourself and enjoy it openly. Fill your home and your office and even your car with your favourite pieces. Share it with your family and friends! Never feel as though you aren’t qualified enough to say why you like about a painting.

 

Art Prints from Art Enthusiasts

When it comes to New Zealand art in particular, we get pretty excited, and we could talk about it all day! If you’re a fan of New Zealand art as well, then there’s no better place to shop for your favourite prints than right here at NZ's art print experts since 1966. From art deco prints to framed wall art of your favourite pieces, we’re your local go-to. Shop our range online today!

Dick Frizzell homage to Colin McCahon in new print

Dick Frizzell makes his latest print
In Colin Compared, Dick Frizzell comes up with a modern twist on Colin McCahon's Virgin Compared painting to pay tribute to this famous NZ artist and to say thank you to Peter Simpson for his wonderful McCahon book released in March 2020 (Colin McCahon 1 : There is Only One Direction, Vol. I 1919-1959).  In the period between 1946 and 1948, McCahon turned from depicting landscapes to Christian imagery. By synthesising disparate elements - portraiture, still life and symbolism (for instance the lamp and jug) with words McCahon emphasised that his works had a message.
Dick Frizzell's homage to Colin McCahon "Colin Compared"
Dick Frizzell's print "Colin Compared"

Dick told me in an email:

"I did a little gouache portrait of Colin for Peter Simpson to thank him for his brilliant McCahon book. i was inspired by the Theo Schoon photo of Colin on the verandah next to his fabulous painting of the Virgin Mary compared to a jug of pure water etc (one of my favourites).

Then i thought… I reckon that that’d make a great print!"

It’s meant to reflect that painting…of the virgin etc hence the close, dark colour scheme sp in the skin tones! Old school!!

May not be everybody’s cup of tea… but getting some good feedback up here!"



I have always liked the way that the Hocken library published prints of the McCahon painting popped up in the background of photographs of NZ writers and artists at home during the 1970s and 80s. A leitmotif of the era when a more confident NZ identity was emerging.

Here is video I found of Dick talking about the impact of McCahon's work a few years back, in it he calls McCahon's paintings "Hypnotic" and the artist gave him, "Something to think about forever".

You can now buy the "Colin Compared" limited edition print by Dick Frizzell delivered direct from New Zealand Fine Prints.  It will be lovely to see these prints in the background of another generation of New Zealander's dust jacket photographs!




The Benefits of Framing Your Art Prints | New Zealand Fine Prints

The Benefits of Framing Your Art Prints

A row of framed New Zealand art prints leaning against a wall

Having art prints and buying art is a relaxing pastime for many New Zealanders. But when it comes to framing, it’s another decision to make whether or not to add one to your purchase. Frames can be especially beneficial to any art purchase for many different reasons. In this blog, we’ll take a look at what difference framed wall art can make!

Keep Your Art Looking Newer for Longer

One of the most significant benefits of framing wall art is that it is a sure-fire way to extensively increase a print’s longevity. We all know too well the amount of collected dust, sun damage, and general wear and tear any piece of art will come across even in the most spotless of houses! A frame will protect your art significantly by providing a barrier between the artwork and the elements.

Instead of having to carefully remove dust directly from the parchment of your print, you can easily grab the spray-and-wipe and dust off the glass and frame. In the rare case any water damage should occur in your home, you can rest assured that your frame will be a good, hearty surface to stop a general spillage or leak from causing extensive damage to your art. Even in a bright and sunny room, the glass of a frame will be an extra barrier against UV rays that can cause your print to fade. You can even look into more advanced UV glass protection if your print is positioned somewhere that gets direct sunlight.


Frames Add More Value

Not only is a frame an excellent form of protection for a piece of art, it can also add additional value to a piece. After all, a frame is a crafted adornment that can add another element of beauty, elegance and overall quality to your art piece. Italian renaissance paintings were famous not only for the art themselves, but also for the stunningly extravagant frames that they were housed in, which showed likeness to the art nouveau architecture of the time.

While most art frames today are not so nearly intricately carved or adorned, they are still a beautiful piece of contemporary design which can hold immense value. Whether they are hand-carved out of a decadent woodgrain, or a simple yet on-trend design that fits into a contemporary style, frames can hold varying values to whoever owns them.

Work It into the Home

Frames add excellent benefit to any homeowner who is particular about their interior style. Pieces of art are unique; they often don’t fit into any particular trend or design style, because they are their own entity and shouldn’t have to. This makes it trickier for people to fit them into the right spaces in their homes—what if the colours don’t match perfectly or the textures clash with the wall behind it?

For homeowners who want to own beautiful art and incorporate it into the interior style of their home at the same time, a frame is the perfect middle ground. It sets a piece of art apart from its interior surroundings, creating a barrier that allows you to choose whatever art you like, and work it into whatever style of home decor you surround it with. Often, a solid white or black frame can be perfect for this. It causes the art to live inside the frame and prevents it from clashing with the space around it.

What about Canvas Prints?

You may feel a little different about framed canvas prints. Due to their interior frame already placed on many of them during the stretching or mounting process, there may be less reason to add an external frame. While this is true, and canvas prints can work better than many other forms of art on their own, it is still good to frame your canvas prints for longevity, value, and style.


Shop Framed New Zealand Art Prints

If you’re looking for a framed art print for your home, we have the widest range of New Zealand and international art prints available online. Get a print delivered right to your doorstep, framed and all! Shop online today.

New Zealand Fine Prints is [not] delivering as usual during the lockdown

Prints NZ wide & Overseas Will [Not] Continue to Ship

[Updated: Just after this post was written the government clarified their regulations to say only essential goods were allowed to ship or be delivered after 25 March.]

During this unprecedented closedown of many NZ businesses Aotearoa's specialist art print and poster store will still be shipping prints, posters and canvas prints.  Our staff are working from home and shipments are being picked up by our couriers and delivered anywhere in NZ or around the world.

New Zealand Fine Prints' artists are supplying us with prints as normal and supplies from publishers of modern art prints that we import from the USA, Europe and the UK are still arriving as usual.

We have good stocks of prints on hand including framed wall art and canvas prints that can be delivered ready to hang.

Art has been uplifting,  reassuring and inspiring people during the most difficult times for thousands of years. Our hope is that if we continue to make it easy for New Zealanders to find and buy art prints for your home or as a gift to lift the spirits of your special people over the coming weeks New Zealand Fine Prints are making the small contribution that is all a business like ours can do to help get all of us through this difficult time.

Below is the latest update regarding deliveries from Aramex [Fastway].  NZ Post is also classed as an essential service and will remain open for Airmail shipments.


Aramex New Zealand 
OPERATING BUSINESS AS USUAL NATIONWIDE 


Afternoon All,
 


As you would have heard, the government have announced that we are to move to a Covid-19 Level 4 status effective midnight on Wednesday 25 March 2020.
 


The Prime Minister has made it clear at this stage that the Transportation sector is considered essential services and hence are a critical link to providing the first and last mile of supplies throughout the country. This being the case, Aramex New Zealand will be resuming Business as Usual service throughout New Zealand.

Our network is currently working very hard within the guidelines of the Ministry of Health (MOH) to manage growing parcel volumes during this challenging time.

We ask for your patience and will endeavour to provide up-to date service announcements as the situation progresses.


Stay safe

The Aramex New Zealand team.



The Role Graphic Design Played in Inspiring Some of New Zealand’s Best Art (and Vice Versa)

Side A, Side B print by Dick Frizzell – Graphic Design and Fine Art in New Zealand

Graphic design is often described as a form of art used to convey a specific message, primarily created for commercial purposes. There is now a huge graphic design culture in New Zealand, spanning back to the first graphic designers of the 1930s who began their training in technical colleges from as young as twelve years old. [Update: We are now showcasing all of these prints in our NZ Design/Graphic Art Prints collection.]

From the first print advertisements, tourism posters, and art deco prints, right up to the brands we see as we walk through the shops of Ponsonby or Lambton Quay today, graphic design is a huge part of our culture and history. But how has the graphical genre played a part in this country’s fine art history? When did the two professions intertwine and how did this affect the art scene? Here, we aim to bridge the connections between graphic design and fine art in New Zealand.

Early Graphic Art


NZ Graphic Art Poster "Mountain Daisy"
If we look back at early graphic design in New Zealand in the 1930s, much of it was influenced by the small yet powerful connection we had with the rest of the world. 

By the1960s, advertising was booming. This was the ‘Mad Men’ era of the Volkswagen Beetle and Lucky Strike Tobacco. The iconography and mixtures of type, illustration, and even some photography in these campaigns trickled down to the New Zealand industry where some of our first graphic designers were finding their feet. 

But what did we have to advertise? We may not have had any major global brands to make ads for back then, but we had a growing tourism industry, and plenty of places to sell to the rest of the world. 

Our tourism posters from the 1930s onward reflect graphical practices while being pieces of art on their own. Their art deco and pop art style blur the lines between graphic design and art, cemented by their bold use of signwriting. 

Type as Expression


As modernist art grew in popularity around the world, New Zealand artists began to develop their own expressionist style that is uniquely Kiwi. 

Colin McCahon played a huge part in defining this style, as he moved away from nationalist landscape art towards unique letterforms and figurative, graphic art. Through the medium of paint, McCahon revolutionised the way designers were using typography, and opened letters up as expressionist forms.

Print of Colin McCahon's painting "As there is a constant flow of light"

Many Kiwi painters took inspiration from this, most famously Dick Frizzell, and those iconic paint-stroke letterforms became a uniquely kiwi ‘typeface’ in their own right.  This writer was tempted to buy McCahon's letterbox when it came up for auction a few years back, for it was numbered in McCahon's distinctive writing!

Now, as our graphic design industry propels itself onto the world stage, type foundries such as Klim use the medium of type to extend graphic design into an art form of its own. The concept of type as expression has come full circle. Klim has held art exhibitions displaying typefaces, such as ‘There is No Such Thing as a New Zealand Typeface’ and has even featured in Erik Brandt’s global interventionist experiment ‘Ficciones Typographika’. 

Although the digital age has allowed us to use type in more than just hand-painted letterforms, we continue to return to the expressionist phase of typography that originally held so much power. 

Revolutionary Practices


As late capitalism grew in sophistication, and branding becoming a more graphic style, so too rose the opportunity for artists to create expressionist work that reacted to the world around them. As an example, Andy Warhol explored the lines between artistic expression and advertising with his heavily branded, pop art pieces. 

Braeburn - hand lettered graphic style print by Dick Frizzell
Dick Frizzell sign written letter style print
Many artists in New Zealand adapted a similar style at the time with our Kiwiana iconography. Dick Frizzell was a leader in this genre, with his Four Square Man interpretations that so heavily blurred the lines between branding and artistic flair.

Today, there are a growing number of contemporary artists (Glenn Jones and Hamish Allan, to name a couple) who take inspiration from Dick Frizzell, creating modern, fine art giclee prints juxtaposed with a similar nostalgic style. And really, why wouldn’t they? Art is often a reflection of the world around us. 

New Zealand art is both nostalgic for brands of yesteryear and is growing our current ones at such a fast pace. It seems that where art often took inspiration from graphic design; now, it is a medium of contrast—to rebel against it. Have we had too much of a good thing? Or are we just nostalgic for a simpler time?

Graphic art Available at New Zealand Fine Prints

No matter where you stand on the spectrum of design versus art, there is no doubt that some of the country’s best works were influenced by a creative community that worked together. You can get yourself a piece of this history with one of the many modern art posters available at New Zealand Fine Prints. Shop online today!

Art Prints for the Quintessential Kiwi Bach | New Zealand Fine Prints

5 Art Prints for the quintessential Kiwi Bach

Baches Print by Barry Ross Smith

By now we can all be in agreement that Kiwiana is not just a passing fad but an enduring and evolving genre that is here for the long term. And beyond the hallways of trend-setting Auckland bungalows is a huge space for Kiwiana as soon as we step out of the cities—at the quintessential kiwi bach.

From the Bay of Islands to Queenstown, New Zealand is coast-to-coast full of seaside, lakeside, and just out of the wayside towns, and everybody knows somebody who’s got a bach at one of these many picturesque spots around Aotearoa. The bach itself is as much a part of Kiwi culture as the framed wall art we associate so significantly with them, so today, we’ll explore the perfect posters to hang in everyone’s perfect bach.

A Kiwi Character

Dick Frizzell "A Lad Insane"
You know the face, with those forever-raised eyebrows and round, button nose. Never without his apron or his thumb plastered high in the air. It’s the Four Square Man! 

He’s an iconic figure on a huge range of Kiwi prints. But what makes him just so synonymous with beach towns and bach life if not for the fact that there’s at least one of the grocery franchises positioned strategically among every single small town across the country?

The Four Square Man was originally designed by the Foodstuffs advertising department in the 1950s. He’s been through quite a few development stages to get to where he is now, and in fact was only initially supposed to be a part of the few newspaper ads the brand was running at the time. The character really ingrained itself into Kiwi culture when famous Kiwiana artist Dick Frizzell began to incorporate him in many of his prints. In fact, much of the Four Square Man art that we see today are variations of Frizzell’s work.

A Stunning Landscape

Rangitoto from Takapuna by Alison Gilmour
Of course, there’s an art print for every bach. So even those who aren’t so much into our iconic characters can appreciate the side of Kiwiana that celebrates our natural landscapes, whether it’s the rolling hills of our lush farmland, or a turquoise coastline complete with pohutukawa silhouette in the foreground.

We have such a beautiful country, and quite few talented artists who are immortalising its settings, so why not hang one of their landscape prints proudly at your holiday home?

Some Flora and Fauna

Tui & Kakabeak by Holly Roach
Floral designs are a great way to bring a piece of the outdoors in and really tie a space together. Plus, they bring a pop of colour that’s cheerful and inspiring.

New Zealand botanical prints look great in any bach because often they will mirror the natives that line the surrounding beaches, streets and forests of your special holiday places.

From a classic fern to a cheerful kowhai, you’ll have so much to choose from that you’re sure to find the perfect botanical poster for your humble (or not so humble) bach.






Cultural Kiwiana Icons

Kiwiana artist Matt Guild's "A tip?"
Kiwiana is symbolised by our many icons. Every kiwi recognises these! Some find it brings nostalgia for their childhood, and the rest of us just know them from their many appearances in the media, in stories and in physical, giant-sized forms. 

What’s exciting about our contemporary artists, is that many of them take these classic Kiwiana icons and put their own flair on them, creating a print that is both nostalgic and modern. There are lots of different styles of Kiwiana art prints these days, no longer restricted to recycling or remixing mid-century commercial iconography. Consider a hyperrealist print by painter Matt Guild, or the cheerful posters in bold colours that Glenn Jones offers.






Something A Bit Touristy

Marlborough Sounds Vintage Poster
Us kiwis are always finding hidden hideaways and exploring new territory, so it’s definitely not out of the ordinary for us to be tourists in our own country. So, why not embrace the tourist?

Tourism art is a staple across western culture, and there’s been an excellent collection of the genre coming right from our back doorstep.

Have a look and see if you can’t find a vintage tourist poster from your very own bach heaven. It can be truly special to frame a piece of history in your holiday spot.








Art Prints for Every Kiwi Bach

Next time you’re looking for more art for your bach to hang alongside the nigh on obligatory New Zealand map poster, there are lots more to choose from than you’d expect! Here at New Zealand Fine Prints, you can browse all the posters and prints you can imagine. Shop online today!