We asked Kristi Kohut of Hapi Art Studio for tips on finding the perfect piece
So, you’ve been accepted for your dream apartment or house. First of all, congrats! Now… what? If you’re staring at the blank wall before you… open up the dirty window… let the sun illuminate the art that you could not find… You know where this is going — it’s so close you can almost taste it.
If you are just diving into buying and collecting art for your home, and feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the art market, we’ve rounded up some ideas for you from artist and founder of Hapi Art Studio, Kristi Kohut. Kohut dreamed of carving out a space where renters and homeowners can find happiness with art in their home, without the enormous cost. Her ethos is “art should surprise and delight you from the moment you unwrap the packaging and hang it on your wall and fill you with joy each time you walk past it.” Through her vibrant, statement-making pieces, Kohut is paving the way to make the art world more accessible — to women especially. “The high-end art world has been an intimidating market for too long,” Kristi told us. “Not to mention, it’s notorious for its overall male-bias as an industry.”
Kohut’s Hapi Art Studio cuts the pricey middleman and the “only available in a stuffy gallery” model to her colorful pieces available online, with women making up the majority of her collectors. We talked to the Hapi Art founder about her latest collection and why investing in framing is equally as important as the piece.
Katie Couric Media: You started out in advertising before taking the leap to pursue your dreams of becoming an artist. What inspired you to change paths?
Kristi Kohut: I left the advertising world and my corporate career when my son was born in 2007, when I served as an Art Director for a global advertising agency. I’ve always connected to the world of color and art, so I picked up a brush and began painting. Before long, my studio was filled wall-to-wall with canvases, and I knew art was my true calling. After honing my craft for several years, it was time to share it with the world and create a business focused on the marketing and selling of fine art.
I carved my own path and founded Hapi Art in 2014, which is built on the idea that bold art brings joy — and owning bold art brings even more joy. And we bring the art directly to the consumer without the intimidating galleries, in a more accessible (and enjoyable!) way.
Almost 15 years later and you have your own studio, Hapi Art. Describe your collection and what makes it different from other pieces on the market?
Hapi Art is known for vibrant, statement-making pieces. The art is full of color and pattern inspired by my favorite muse: nature. The pieces are created with the highest quality materials and include special touches such as hand-torn edges and prints embellished with cut glass glitter and custom-made shimmering lucite frames. So each piece feels really luxurious and has the feel of an original work.
And I keep expanding and redefining what it means to live with art. In 2015, I added a line of textiles, wallpaper, and home decor items to my product offering. And in 2018, opened my brick-and-mortar working studio and showroom.
One of your goals with Hapi Art was to make the art world more accessible. How are you doing this through your studio?
The high-end art world has been an intimidating, inaccessible market for too long. Not to mention, notorious for its overall male-bias as an industry. I set out to change things and early on made the decision to sell original art directly to collectors and consumers. Contrary to the market standard, I cut out the expensive middleman (galleries that typically take a commission of 50% of an artist’s proceeds), ditched the “only available in a stuffy gallery” model, and made my work easily available online – so everyone can experience the joy of being a collector.
The gender bias of the industry not only applies to artists themselves, but to collectors. When I founded my business, women made up just a tiny fraction of collectors. This didn’t sit well with me either, everyone should experience the joy of being a collector and I knew this was the audience that I especially wanted to speak to. And we’ve flipped this, with women making up the majority of my collector base.
At the same time, I wanted to connect one-on-one with potential collectors in a way that made it easy to view, connect and purchase art. I went right where the rest of the art world had been resisting and started selling my art online and sharing my story on Instagram, my own website and various media outlets. In 2014, I launched my e-commerce website offering not only my original work, but limited edition work and fine prints. In one click, someone could browse my work, connect with me or one of my team members, and become a collector or commission a piece of art.
So many people are intimidated by splurging on a piece of art and don’t know where to begin. What are some tips you tell your clients to find the right piece for their space?
We hear this all the time and this is one of my main drivers in tearing down that intimidating stigma that collecting art has. There is nothing like the joy of living with color and we really try to make the process of discovering and purchasing art as fun and seamless as possible.
The process of discovery can be incredibly fun. I recommend following artists that you like on Instagram and browsing through their websites. Grab a screenshot and start saving some photos of art that really makes your heart sing.
Some designers say the right frame can complete the work. What are some recommendations you have for choosing the right frame?
Absolutely. The right frame can really elevate a piece and add a finishing touch to a room. One of my go to’s is a really simple, clean gallery-style wood frame. This framing style really lets the art shine and that can work in any space. I’m also a sucker for a glossy lucite shadow box. These feel like a work of art in themselves can really add a touch of glamour to a space and make the art sing. No matter what you choose, make sure the frame is created with high-quality materials. When investing in fine art, investing in the frame is equally important. It’s amazing what a difference it can make in making the art feel special and luxe.
Who are some of your favorite artists to follow on Instagram?
There are so many that I love! Here are a few of my favs….
Donald Robertson – @drawbertson
Ashley Longshore – @ashleylongshoreart
Danielle Krysa (aka The Jealous Curator) – @thejealouscurator
Ryan McGinness – @mcginnessworks
Jen Stark – @jenstark
For our readers who are new to Hapi Art, what are some of your favorite pieces from your spring collection?
Because we all need color now more than effort, there’s definitely a lot of that in the Spring Collection. Here are from of my favorite pieces from the release:
WHIMSY FLORAL 2
SPRING STRIPES #4
EMERALD AGATE DIPTYCH
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