When you walk into someone’s home, one of the first things you may see is pictures or paintings on the walls. First, the standard travel photos are up, maybe some abstract pieces by an extraordinary painter, and occasionally a quote or two if it’s a millennial’s home. Next on the list are portraits. Oh sure, you’ll see some small 5x7s or 8×10” framed and placed on shelves, but you don’t see a lot of large pieces, especially of people, in that home. Most homes don’t have a ton of pictures of people in their lives. Yeah, maybe a big 30” canvas of a family with kiddos, but why not of individuals? Why not of yourself? Why don’t people get portrait wall art of themselves?
I’m going to break down the stigmas for why we’re afraid to hang gorgeous wall art of ourselves up in our homes, why you should get self-portrait wall art, and where you should place those pieces.
What is Wall Art?
A little background first – wall art is any large piece of art placed on the walls of your home. These can be made of canvas, printed on metal (these look amazing, by the way), or the more familiar print with a frame. To qualify as wall art, I personally think the piece needs to be larger than 11×17”. If you see the example below, you’ll notice how small an 8×10” looks on the wall of a living room. You really have to go bigger for it to look at home.
Single or Multiple Pieces of Wall Art
Now, you don’t have to make it a single piece. Instead, wall art is often a collection or a collage of images. This means several pieces are hung together in an organized manner. The benefit is you can get several pictures on the wall that are smaller individually but take up more overall space. Obviously, this depends on the size of the wall you’re placing your wall art, but you get the idea.
Where Does It Go?
Wall art portraits can be treated just like a painting. You can place them where ever you’d like in your home. The goal is to put it somewhere you can enjoy it every day. It could be something just for you or for all your home’s visitors to enjoy. That’s your choice. But I’ll tell you from personal experience, hanging up wall art in your home does wonders for the warmth and welcoming feeling of your residence.
Wall Art Isn’t Just For Family Portraits
Most portrait wall art is of family. You know the ones. Parents and kiddos all sitting on a picnic blanket or maybe stacked around a big chair in a studio? Yeah, those images. No one bats an eye at these pieces because it’s acceptable for parents to want portraits of their kids. It’s about a collection of people, their bonds, and a memory. Wedding pictures also fall into this category. Society says this is “okay” because it’s a group of people. But why? Why is it okay for a familial group to have giant portraits of themselves in their home, but not individuals?
Why Self Portrait Wall Art Feels Vain
In the United States, we’re set on the idea of “rugged individualism.” The idea that we can stand on our own two feet should not rely on the community and instead be self-sufficient. Yet, this same culture tells us we have to be humble. It’s an interesting paradox to me, but I’m also a nerd regarding human behaviors. Society tells us that we should not brag or celebrate ourselves. We’re in the digital age of Selfies, and yet saying, “I DID A THING,” is met with disdain, dirty looks, and jealousy if there isn’t some element of self-deprecation. This is why portrait wall art of yourself feels vain, selfish, and gross. How dare you celebrate yourself by placing a piece of art on your wall that reminds you of a great moment, feeling, and memory and makes you feel good as a result.
Why Wall Art Is Great
We buy art for our walls because it makes us feel something. It’s not just beautiful, it generates emotions within us, and we selfishly want to feel that feeling routinely in our lives. So we place it in our homes to experience that sensation repeatedly, and hopefully, get compliments from our family and friends on our excellent taste in art and decorations. I’d argue that these same justifications are valid for portrait wall art of yourself.
Memories and Emotions
We take pictures with our phones and cameras all the time of travel, dinners with friends, graduation ceremonies, of all kinds of moments that we want to remember and cherish. These are happy memories, and you feel happy every time you see those images. It takes you back to that time and place.
If you got a portrait of yourself doing something you love – singing, horseback riding, drawing, kayaking, coding, you name it – wouldn’t that make you happy every time you got to see that image?
And what if you want a portrait of yourself dressed to the nines, looking amazing – like you’re about to walk the red carpet? Maybe even something more intimate like a boudoir shoot, where you see yourself and think, “holy crap, I’m gorgeous.”
Portraits of ourselves make us feel empowered, attractive, strong, and happy. So why not put those images on a wall so you can see them anytime you start your day and feel amazing?
There’s a large, 24×36” portrait of my great-grandfather at my parent’s house. I wasn’t even born when it was taken, but I can feel connected to him whenever I see it. I feel connected to a stowaway on a ship that brought him to Ellis Island as an immigrant. I feel grateful knowing that my thirst for knowledge comes from his dedication to reading the encyclopedia in his spare time to learn English. Cigar in hand, a scowl of a smirk, and dressed in an immaculate suit against a fall woodland background, the words, “one tough SOB” quickly come to mind.
I’m taking that damn portrait at some point in the future because that piece of wall art means something to me. Wall art is a fantastic gift to family and future generations. It’s how they remember us. So why not pass down an image of you doing something you love so they can see you in your best light?
It’s For You
Portraits are an investment, and there’s a feeling of pride when you see a stunning picture you gave to yourself. Society says it’s selfish to spend money on ourselves, yet self-love is all the rage. Portraits are a form of self-love. Seriously – you’re treating yourself to a luxury experience. You’re investing in YOU. Why pay for amazing images just to throw them on Instagram where they’ll disappear in a few weeks? You’ve already invested in spoiling yourself with a portrait experience. It’s going to be amazing, you’re going to feel fantastic, and the images will be mindblowing. If you put those images on your wall, you’ll get to experience those feelings every time you see your portrait wall art.
Where to Put Wall Art
So now that we’ve walked through why you should get and place wall art of yourself in your home let’s walk through where you should put it all! I’ll also talk about portrait wall art of yourself relative to other subject matter.
Family Portraits, Travel, and Art
These can go anywhere. All of these are “acceptable” subject matters to find in any room of the home. Usually, family portraits are found in living rooms, kitchens, and heavily used hallways. Art owners take great pride in these pieces, and usually, they’re prominently displayed. Still, these can go absolutely anywhere – bathrooms included. Travel pictures can also go anywhere as well.
Portraits of You
Anywhere! Seriously, you can put these pieces anywhere you damn well please. However, if you’re still a little shy, you can place these portraits based on your comfort level. Your bedroom or personal bathroom are great places to start since they are not common spots for public guests (they’re great for boudoir portraits). Next, you can use less common hallways, rooms, or your personal office. Beyond that, or if you have a smaller home where everything is a public space, then own it and hang that portrait wall art of yourself proudly wherever you’ll see it every day to bring yourself joy.
Many of my portrait clients ask for a shoot because they want to celebrate something: a milestone birthday, losing weight, beating a disease, or a life achievement. Others get a portrait shoot because they want to feel empowered and like a badass. What all of these reasons have in common is that my clients want images that make them feel something. Photography is, by definition, a snapshot of a moment in time. So I take portraits that celebrate people and who they are right then in that moment of their lives. If you’re making that kind of investment in yourself, shouldn’t you have that memory in your home to experience for years?