By Terry Eaton, President and Chief Curator of Eaton Fine Art
For almost 30 years, Eaton Fine Art has collaborated on art programs for distinguished hotel brands around the world. Our Austin-based art consultancy firm specializes in curating art collections for hotels such as Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and Hyatt Place Indianapolis / Downtown. As Chief Curator and President of Eaton Fine Art, I have personally seen how art can provide the creative soul for an interior setting, complementing architecture and interiors in a way that intrigues occupants, adds to their experience, and entices them to return. Art has an innate ability to enhance the atmosphere of a space.
Prior to the pandemic, my husband Robert and I collected art during our travels, and our home has evolved into an amalgamation of our life experiences with artwork that offers a personal connection. We collect and frame photos, drawings and other mementos that are then displayed throughout our home as members of our art collection, from vintage balloon molds to antique toys.
We’ve long had an eye for art that makes our home life exciting and memorable. While working from home over the past year, I’ve come to appreciate my personal work sanctuary with artwork that inspires my soul. I’ve curated the artwork on my desk with items that embody my wanderlust for travel. Even during these times, you can still curate artwork for your home office from local art galleries, antique shops, flea markets or even your attic. Here are a few tips for finding memorable and inspiring art:
Art Creates Lasting Memories
During our 9-5 work lives, we maintain happiness and motivation when surrounded by objects and artwork connected to our memories. Whether you’ve collected a piece of art from a local artist or created your own, art serves as a reminder of a special moment in your life. It’s a time capsule that you can revisit whenever you like from the comfort of your home office. And when you move from place to place and your home and scenery change, your art can remain the same and provide a sense of comfort and familiarity – two things we also need now more than ever.
For my home office, I keep a curated art collection in front of my work desk that inspires me on a daily basis and serves as a reminder of my humble beginnings. When I was a teenager, I sold my own art at the Starving Artist Art Fair on the Riverwalk in San Antonio; I even had my own business cards as a freelance artist. Today, I look at three paintings that I created during my teenage years. While working at my desk, I like to think of this experience as one of those moments when life comes full circle.
I’ve collected art pieces to serve as a daily reminder of connecting to unique destinations around the world from the comfort of my home office. I have beautiful China wood figurines that I keep placed in museum plexiglass boxes, two vintage images from the Panama–Pacific International Exposition of 1915 in San Francisco and a painting I purchased from an artist while visiting her studio in Vietnam. These cherished mementos continue to spark my daily inspiration.
Art also serves as a reminder of loved ones—an important staple in any home office. As we live through challenging times, daily reminders of our loved ones are more important as hope gradually enters the picture again. Near my desk, I keep a vintage hand-painted plate showing the one-room house where Robert’s father lived during the early 1930s along with a painting my mother created a few months before she died. These collected artifacts fill me with joy, especially now as we’ve learned to adapt, manage and cope through extraordinary times.
Bringing art into your house is what turns it into a home, and the home office is no exception. We find expression and meaning in every aspect of our personal lives through fashion, hair, music, but in your home, filling your house with pieces that scream ‘you’ is how you channel that expression outside of yourself. In the same way your fashion sense says a lot about you, art does the same. It’s important to maintain your identity and personal statement when curating art pieces for your home office.
I’m a child at heart, and I’m passionate about curating spaces with art that make people smile. That’s why I keep a collection of Minions on my desk. I just love the yellow figurines from the popular computer-animated comedy films. I also keep a few other trinkets that bring a smile to my face. These include a small statue of Buddha that I found while living in China and a hand-carved frog that I purchased while in Panama for a hotel project. I also have license plates that Robert and I purchased when we moved to San Francisco 33 years ago.
Think Outside the Frame
Art comprises a variety of visually stimulating elements which engage a person’s senses — whether that is painting, sculpture, artistic wallcoverings, photography, video, or anything else. When considering art pieces for the home office, explore different kinds of media. By integrating different types of artwork into the home office, you can be stimulated in a variety of ways, both tactile and visual, maximizing the overall impact of each piece while creating a genuinely engaging and tailored experience. For example, the textile draped on the back of my chair is vintage. My father traveled extensively when we lived in Germany during the mid ‘60s and that is one of the many beauties he purchased while traveling to Turkey and Pakistan. Additionally, the temple guard dog to the left was purchased in Thailand in 1988, when I traveled Southeast Asia with my family.
Finding Engaging Moments
When curating an art collection for the home office space, find art pieces that inspire you. For myself, travel, family, and creative collaborations are important values in my life. These overarching themes appear throughout my home office. For an art collection to successfully engage while working from home, it needs to be more than decoration that is placed on the wall to fill gaps. It needs to ‘live’ and excite on multiple levels, elevating a home office from a simple place to work into a destination in its own right.
I have various collectables that include the Happy Buddha, Hotei, that I purchased while living in China; a compass and temperature (wood piece) which sat on my father’s desk at work for over 25 years; the marble statue of David that my family purchased during travels to Italy in the mid ‘60s; and the Kwan Yin, which I purchased while visiting Vietnam, along with the brass horse from my parents collection. (That little fedora is supposed to be on top of David’s head! )
What Makes Art Interesting?
Art is truly universal, embracing so many different facets of our life from history to culture. Art can be so many different things to so many different people. I try to find creativity in my everyday life, and to that end, I’m always keeping my eyes—and my mind—open to those possibilities. Keeping an open mind also helps creative ideas form in my mind, and from there, off we go! Creativity and inspiration manifest themselves in so many different ways. Sometimes, being inspired by the simplest things on your work desk can spark creativity, which is what makes art so interesting.
About Eaton Fine Art Eaton Fine Art, Inc. (EFA) is an Austin-based, full-service art consulting firm specializing in creative project design and art curation for clients spanning the globe in hospitality, healthcare, and corporate offices. Founded in 1992 by Terry Eaton and his husband, Robert Williams, the unrivaled firm has collaborated on the art programs for dozens of high-profile clients and brands across the nation, including Marriott International, Related Companies, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Host Hotels & Resorts and HRI Properties. EFA was a Starwood-approved vendor for over 24 years and is currently a specified vendor for Marriott brands including Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft Hotel, and Elements for the guest rooms and public spaces. EFA is also a Hilton Hotels & Resorts-approved art source and curates art programs for numerous Hyatt Hotels brands as well as numerous hotel ownership groups and independent brands. For more information about Eaton Fine Art, please visit: www.eatonfineart.com