What is the most amount of art you’ve seen hung on an apartment wall? Ten, twenty pieces? Imagine a place where the only white space on the walls are the gaps between the frames and canvases. Sadly, I’ve seen too many apartments with bare walls; that’s why I was taken aback the first time I walked into Steve Stoppert’s apartment: a cornucopia of found art, traditional 20th century painting and sculpture, flea market finds, and a comprehensive who’s who collection of NYC street art and graffiti from the past ten years.
At first I was impressed by the sheer size of his collection; there seemed to be no space left for this gentleman to put new pieces as his catalogue grows. Over the past few years I have seen space get tighter on these walls and realized Steve had no ambition to overhaul his collection, only growing it. So I figured I would put my years of art handling to good use, and see if we could make a bit more order to this collection.
About 30 hours of work later over the course of four days, we finished the hallway and living room, and I can confidently say we fit an extra thirty-to-forty pieces up on the wall that were either on the floor, or piled up in a closet. Unfortunately, a good portion of that time was spent preparing pieces to be hung. I was baffled at how many pieces Steve purchased from artists (many of them you would know) who neglected to prepare their pieces to be hung before the work was purchased.
It has taken me many years to understand the balance between being an artist and a businessperson that one needs to achieve any level of success
in this New York City, but here’s one thing I know to be true: When you are lucky enough to sell a piece of artwork, you are selling a product. You want your customer to go home, hang it, enjoy it, show their friends, and buy more. So don’t give them a problem by not spending five minutes to place hanging hardware on your piece.
There are many types of hanging hardware out there one can use to prepare a piece. You can use a French cleat, D-rings, picture wire, Z-bar, saw tooth, etc. Today I will show you how to prep a piece with picture wire, which is one of the easiest methods for someone starting out.
To prepare you will need:
Braided picture wire, rated for the proper weight of your piece (coated wire is easier on your hands)
First, measure down a third of the way down the piece and make a mark on either side.
Next, screw the eyehooks into the sides. Screw them until the thread has disappeared, and the hook feels sturdy. You might want to start the hole with an awl, or a five-in-one (pictured), so the eyehook goes in easier. You can also use an extra eyehook to turn the hook once you have it started in the wood as a way to save the stress on your fingers.
After your eyehooks are set, tie a knot with the wire and twist the excess around the main wire. Always tie a knot on both sides of the wire to keep it from unfurling from weight or pressure.
Give yourself a little slack on your wire before you cut and tie the other side, but you don’t want it to be too loose. Your wire should never touch the top stretcher, or go above the frame of the piece. If it does it’s way too long and you need to start over. Grab the wire and give it a tug to make sure it feels secure, and that’s it, you’re ready to hang.
Before I get angry comments from art handling nerds, I know I am dumbing this down. Most art handlers hate picture wire because it’s inconsistent when hanging multiple pieces. Most would prefer D-rings, but as long as there is hardware on a piece it’s a good start.
This technique won’t work on all frames, but will be good for canvases. You would probably be better off with D-rings on a thin piece or flat work in a frame.
I don’t mean to be crass or judgy when writing this, but these are oversights that I used to struggle with as well, and I wish someone informed me on what to do. I want artists to succeed, and the more professional your work looks, the quicker it can be hung and enjoyed. Good luck out there; I hope to be hanging your art someday, at someone like Steve’s house.
Speaking of Steve we need more people like him in the art world. He’s a collector, but more importantly he’s a lover of art, and artists. He understands that art is therapy, and for many of us it’s something we have to do. Steve will help an artist so they can help themselves simply because he likes you, and your work, not so he can pad his resume, or climb the ladder, respecting the life that has chosen us.
It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of the art world and lose perspective of why you started making art in the first place. Go be the best version of yourself, and prep your fucking artwork!