Meet the collector: Michelle in New Plymouth, NZ

I'm excited to introduce you to Michelle, a collector with great eye in New Zealand. Enjoy!

Michelle Matangi.jpeg

Michelle Matangi, 36, Seamstress/Business Owner, New Plymouth, New Zealand

Who/what inspired you to start collecting art?

I can’t really remember at exactly what point I was inspired, but since I was a teenager I was very drawn to art. I took art class, which I loved, but for some reason as I got older I thought that art was for the rich so I didn’t start collecting until I was in our house now and realized how affordable art can be. 

What was the first piece of your collection?

When I first discovered the Marilyn Bubblegum piece by Michael Moebius, I was so in awe of it but obviously couldn’t afford the price tag of an original.  I ended up finding a print of it on Etsy which I was thrilled about, still to this day it’s my favourite piece I own.

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Your most recent acquisition?

My Swan prints by Evie Kemp. Evie is an illustrator from Auckland and does some really amazing work! I have a couple of other prints of hers too; I love how bold and expressive they are. 

Evie Kemp Swans.png

At what point did you feel like an art collector?

I’m not sure I can claim that as I don’t feel like I am, but I guess I started caring about art and wanting more when I was in my early 30s.

What do you look for when you purchase art?

I’m really drawn to portraits. I just can’t help myself.  I also really love abstract pieces and anything really bold.  It’s got to jump out at me to warrant purchasing it. 

What's a mistake you've made but learned from?

Get art framed properly! A really lovely artwork can look terrible if it’s not framed well.  Also if you see a piece of art and you love it, then buy it--obviously only if you can afford it. Otherwise you will regret it.

What advice do you have for other collectors (especially those new to collecting)?  

Just buy what truly speaks to you--it doesn’t have to be expensive, some of my favourite pieces are from thrift shops! Also buy varying sizes because I personally think a gallery wall can look really timeless if done well.

What's something you don't imagine you'll ever have in your collection?

You'll never find typography among my collection, I just can’t!

What, if anything, do you think is "missing" from your collection?

Photography, I really want to add some great photography pieces.

We all have budgets. What's something you de-prioritize so you have extra funds for art?

Probably clothing for myself; anything for my house comes above clothing now.  I feel like I’m cheating on fashion with homewares... before I owned a house, all I cared about was clothes.

Michelle Matangi gallery wall.png

You just got a surprise gift of $1000 (~$1370NZD) to put towards your art collection. How would you use it?

I'd use it to help buy Andy Spain's Bat's Theatre, Wellington, New Zealand I’m completely obsessed with architecture, and this capture is just so brilliant. I can’t stop thinking about it.

Who is an artist whose work you love but will probably never own?

Stephanie Vovas work is one of my all time favourites! 

Can you recommend a local artist who deserves some love?

It’s actually really hard to choose as there’s so many talented artists in my hometown, but I adore Anna Gibson's illustrations. She’s got some serious talent with portraits which i’m so naturally drawn to.

Follow Michelle's collecting and life adventures on Instragram: @michellematangi. And if you're a fan of podcasts, check out her exciting new venture with artist Evie Kemp: "The Pink Room."

Collectors, want to share you wisdom and show off your favorite pieces? Shoot me a message via the Contact page, and I'll give you the details. I'm always looking for new and varied collectors to feature here! 

Meet the collector: Seana in Charlotte, NC

I'm so excited to introduce you all to Seana, an art collector in North Carolina. Seana was the first stranger I reached out to on Instragram, and I'm so grateful she was interested in doing one of these interviews. Not only is her collection fantastic, but her insight and photography are too. I knew it would be good, from following her on Instagram, but seriously, y'all, I feel like I'm scooping Domino here. ;) Enjoy!

Seana, Charlotte, NC

Seana headshot

Who/what inspired you to start collecting art?

I was inspired after visiting the home of a senior executive at my former company who was also an avid collector of art.  He has a very valuable, multi-million dollar collection displayed across every inch of wall space within his home.  There were literally hundreds of paintings throughout his stately Greenwich, CT home--hung barely a couple of inches apart.  I was captivated.  I knew almost nothing about art and had never seen anything like this before: a home brimming with art such that it felt like you were immersed in an artistic wonderland.  Although many of the pieces were raw and embodied a folk art style, the level of sophistication with they were framed and displayed was breathtaking.  I also was moved by the fact that almost all of his art was created by black artists--many famous and some unknown.  It left such an impression on me; I was a changed woman after visiting his home.  I knew I wanted my home to also feel like my own version of an artistic wonderland one day… although I can certainly not afford the works of the famous, established artists that filled his home!

What was the first piece of your collection?

I believe the very first piece I framed and hung was probably my 4th grade self-portrait which my mother retained for 20 years before I pulled it out of a box and decided to hang it in my first apartment.  It is a bold acrylic painting and still looks very good!


This painting was done by Atlanta-based artist, Dante Yarbrough.  Dante is a friend of my cousin and has an incredible catalog of work.  

This piece was part of a series. I don’t know its name but I call it “Hidden Figures” because what at first appears to be a random series of black and white lines and markings, is actually an intricate web of images and figures.  It also has rich, textural elements.  It’s like a Rorschach test in that everyone sees different things depending on their experiences and frame of reference.  I have hung it so that it is pretty much the first thing you see upon entering my home.  I would definitely like to buy more of Dante’s art in the future.


Your most recent acquisition?

My most recent acquisition is colorful abstract, two-sided canvas painted by a local Charlotte artist.  It is simply a piece of canvas that has not yet been mounted or framed.  I haven’t been able to commit to which side I want to display and how I want to mount it but I will figure it out soon. 

At what point did you feel like an art collector?

Although I don’t really refer to myself as an "art collector," I do know that I thoroughly enjoy art. I believe art is like the jewelry of the home.  It can do so much to adorn and elevate an otherwise basic home. 

I guess I realized how passionate I was about art when I purchased and moved into my first house two years ago.  All I wanted to focus on was the art... where I wanted to put what I already had, and sourcing more art for my walls.  I hung my art before making any other furniture or decorating decisions.  Everything in my home pivots around the art.


This beautiful piece is a limited edition print created by artist and friend, Annie Moran.  Annie comes from a long line of talented artists and musicians in and around New Orleans, and her art features the landscapes and people of Louisiana.  Annie is very humble; she and I were buddies back when we both lived in New York and sadly, I didn't see any of her work until we had been friends for years.  This piece features an African-American man dressed in Mardi Gras attire, with drink in hand and whistle in mouth.  Annie explains that even as he is oppressed, the black man is the “king” of New Orleans culture.  He has developed the music, food, and traditions that people have come to love from the city. However, he struggles to truly benefit from its popularity or economic resurgence.  The original painting was purchased by the city and hangs in one of New Orleans’ municipal buildings.  I was excited to purchase one of the limited edition prints. It hangs in my bedroom and is the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning.  It serves as a nice connection to Louisiana--my family’s home of origin.


What do you look for when you purchase art?

When purchasing art, I look for pieces that speak to me personally or culturally.  I realize that I am definitely drawn to portraits.  I also love very large scale, dramatic pieces.  I tend to either gravitate towards very modern art or very “primitive” folk art.  I’m trying to nudge myself to embrace greater diversity in the style, subject and size of my art.  Also, although most of my pieces are originals, I don’t discriminate.  I also have some prints that I love… and even a couple of pieces from big box stores that I’ve stumbled upon. 

What advice do you have for other collectors?

Don’t skimp on the framing--particularly non-reflective glass.  There are one or two pieces that I wish I had framed a little better.


Dammit Wesley colorful portrait

I got this piece from local Charlotte artist Dammit Wesley.   I saw it in a décor shop and was immediately captivated.  It is striking piece, painted directly on a 50x30 piece of plywood.  I love its boldness and color.  The way each paint stroke helps to define her face is gorgeous.  When I look at this, I see a woman who is beautiful, strong, and bold.  I imagine that she has defiantly rejected society’s traditional notions beauty andfemininity and instead, crafted her own definition of what beauty, power, and confidence look like.  I have spent a little time with Wesley as he’s become an acquaintance of mine about town; however,  I never actually asked him about the background of this piece.  I’ve attended several of his hip hop sip & paint classes, which are always a blast.  Next time I’ll be sure to ask him about it!


What's something you don't imagine you'll ever have in your collection?

Hmm,  I can’t really think of anything I would say you’d NEVER find in my collection.  I think almost anything has the potential to be beautiful and interesting.  I wouldn’t feel comfortable ruling out an entire category of something.

What, if anything, do you think is "missing" from your collection?

There are probably a few things that are missing from my collection.  I’d like more smaller scale pieces given that I am running out of wall space!  I also think having a mix of sizes enables you to better assemble your various pieces of art into a narrative.  I’d also like to incorporate more three dimensional pieces within my collection--whether that be sculpture, artifacts or antique items.


A lot of the art and photographs in my home have deep personal, familial, and/or cultural significance to me.  This series is particularly meaningful because these are sketches of some of my family members’ homes in Louisiana that were drawn by my father.  My dad is a retired architect and was always passionate about creating--in his personal and professional life.  This series includes sketches of my grandparents’ house, great grandparents’ house, and great uncle’s house.  My father has always had a natural talent for creating.  Although I did not inherit his gift, he played a big role in me developing an appreciation for aesthetics, design and the arts.  Dad now has Parkinson’s which has affected his ability to create due to hand tremors.  This makes me cherish the sketches, watercolor, and wood sculpture he has created all the more.


What was the piece that got away?

The piece that got away was a gorgeous vintage oil painting of a vase of flowers that I found in the antique market.  It has been two years and I still think about it. I should have listened to my heart instead of listening to the opinion of a friend who told me that it looked like something from the set of Golden Girls.  LOL!

We all have budgets. What's something you de-prioritize so you have extra funds for art?

I probably spend less on kitchenware and bedding than most people do.  Much of my furniture is pretty moderately priced and I tend to keep my stuff for a long time vs changing out frequently.  I use that to justify investing in art here and there.

You just got a surprise gift of $1000 to put towards your art collection. How would you use it?

I’d keep my eye out for a few unique pieces that I might assemble into a gallery wall.


The title of this piece is Juxtaposition.  It is a
digital piece created by a young local Charlotte artist named Gustavo Soto

I wasn’t very familiar with the concept of digital art before encountering this piece.  I participated in an “art crawl” a couple of years ago and of all the pieces that were displayed, this is the one that really spoke to me.  I have a thing for portraits and I found this one to be captivating and beautiful.  I later learned that this piece is actually the only physical print of a digital/video story of sorts that was created by the artist.  I think it is a fitting image to represent the state of the world and country today--we feel consumed and burdened by the chaotic social, political, and economic state of the world.


Who is an artist whose work you love but will probably never own?

An artist whose work I love but can’t afford: I’d love a collage by Romare Bearden, who also happens to be from Charlotte.  If there are no bounds to this fantasy, I’d also love a piece by Matisse or Picasso.

Can you recommend a local artist who deserves some love?

I’d like to give love to all of the artists whose work I shared, particularly Annie Moran and Dante Yarbrough.

Follow Seana's collecting and life adventures on Instragram: @bellybaila

Collectors, want to share you wisdom and show off your favorite pieces? Shoot me a message via the Contact page, and I'll give you the details. I'm always looking for new and varied collectors to feature here! 

Meet the collector: Anna in Alexandria, VA

When I began mulling over the idea for this blog, I knew the first person I'd want to feature in a "meet the collector" posts was my dear friend, Anna. She has such a fantastic eye for art and design, and is so thoughtful in all of her choices, I knew she'd make for a great first interview. 

Anna Gryskevich headshot

Anna Gryskevich, 29, Interior Designer/Project Manager, Alexandria, VA

Who/what inspired you to start collecting art?

I can't say that one thing in particular inspired me to collect art. I've always loved anything art- and design-related and was drawn to both at a very young age. As I matured, went to school, and traveled, my desire to collect has continued to grown and seems to be ever changing!

What was the first piece of your collection?

Well, the first piece I ever bought was from an antique shop in Harper's Ferry. It is called The Proper Measure of a Man by R. Nielsen and is from the 1970's. Out of what's hanging in my home now, though, the first piece is something I drew in art class when I studied abroad in Paris.

Your most recent acquisition?

A print of Morgan Fink's Abstract Landscape III that I bought at the Larkin Arts Gallery in Harrisonburg, VA. She is an artist local to that area.


Over the last few years, my husband and I have grown to love Shenandoah. We do a lot of biking, camping and trail running down there and bought Abstract Landscape III in the area at Larkin Arts Gallery. Morgan Fink's style is beautiful and not your average landscape. The expressionistic color and linework is what drew us to the piece, and with the meaning behind it, I am sure it is something we will have forever.


At what point did you feel like an art collector?

I am not sure I feel like an art collector yet! But, I started to feel more confident with my collection about three years ago.

What do you look for when you purchase art?

Uniqueness, expressionistic brush strokes, sketchy lines. I've always been drawn to imperfection in art. I'm not really into photorealistic art. It doesn't feel natural to me, and maybe because I have pretty eclectic taste, I like that "imperfect art" leaves room for interpretation and allows me to more easily adapt my design style with it, especially when I know my style is evolving and maturing.


Anna gallery wall.JPG

Mladen Novak, though not from the US, is local to this area. We discovered his paintings at an old
art store in Alexandria and learned that this Croatian-born artist was quite acclaimed in the area. That wasn't what swayed us into buying this portrait (title unknown, painting over TV above), but knowing it
was from a local artist helped! It isn't my usual go-to colors but I loved his cubist approach to the portrait, especially the eyelashes and hat. I studied abroad in Paris and adored the little node to the Eiffel tower without being overly cliche or cheesy. In a different house, I imagine this piece over a chest that is either incredibly modern and clean lined or weathered and simple.


What advice do you have for other young collectors?

DO NOT RUSH. When I first got out of college, I really wanted to "feel the part" of being a newly graduated designer. Quite frankly, I still want to feel that. I've made some art purchases that I really do not like anymore because I just wanted to have something on the wall. I've slowed down since. Don't go on a mission to complete your art collection in a year. Who you are today is not who you will be in two  years, five years, and so on. We are constantly growing and evolving, finding new interests, and our style evolves with that. Trying to have the perfect art collection all at once will likely leave you with a lot of regrets. Instead, focus on getting one or two really amazing pieces a year. Then your collection will be a natural progression and reflection of who you really are and you'll be less likely to regret pieces. If anything, you'll think of those pieces as mementos from that stage of your life.


Alyssa Capri Tribal Portraits

I first found Alyssa Capri when I had an interior design client looking for an artist to make portraits
of her boys. I loved her work, so I had her do small wedding portraits of my husband and me as an anniversary gift.  Her skill is incredible.  As I went through more of her work, I fell for her amazing ethnic portraits. I wanted something really bold for above the settee in our dining room and came up with
these Tribal Portraits. I love them. I've thought about rotating them to a new spot in my home, but I think they'll be pieces that will forever have a wow factor. They are just really special.


What's your favorite place to discover great art?

I've had some luck at Evolution Home in Alexandria and Etsy online. I love supporting local shops and emerging artists.

What's something you don't imagine you'll ever have in your collection?

You will never see quotes painted on a piece of wood on my wall. Call me pretentious but I just can't...


Anna Gryskevich mask


One day I was "treasure hunting" in Old Town and stopped by Look Again. I will be honest, I was having no luck that day. I walked upstairs in hopes of finding something worthwhile. 

I looked up, and there it was, this mask staring back at me. It was hiding up on a beam. It was such a steal and I couldn't pass it up. I love
mixing in objects on the wall with art. Sometimes you just need to break it up and I loved how
funky this was.


What, if anything, do you think is "missing" from your collection?

I am itching to shake things up in my art. It's very saturated with color, and I want everything to just feel a little softer. Many of these pieces were purchased within a two-year period, and like I mentioned before, my style is shifting. I'd like some neutrals. Maybe quiet landscapes. I always love a good portrait but maybe it's not painted so visually heavy and instead is in charcoal or oil pastels. I just want to take everything down a notch. I live such a busy life and want to be in "retreat mode" when I come home!

What was the piece that got away?

There were some really great pieces at The Screendoor in Asheville, NC a few years ago. A couple of vintage portraits and landscapes. I should have snagged one, but I was being cheap and indecisive.

We all have budgets. What's something you de-prioritize so you have extra funds for art?

Clothing. I rarely buy new clothes.


This gallery wall (left) is really special to me. I took all of the photographs while studying abroad or
on family vacations after college. They are truly a reflection of what we love: outdoors, exploring new
cities, and culture. Credit for the portrait (right) by an unknown artist goes to my husband. He found
it in the back of Evolution Home among discounted items they were trying to move. $25. I mean,
seriously?! My super handy friend built a custom frame around it which really elevated it. I love how
sketchy and messy the painting is. It was probably a student's work, but the color is amazing. This is in
the same room with the photographs so it is a nice contrast in style, yet ties in with the other colors. 


You just got a surprise gift of $1000 to put towards your art collection. How would you use it?

I would head straight to the Torpedo Factory and buy something local and something really special. All of my art is under $300 a piece, so I would look for something to put over my dresser (which has been bare for 5 years) to complete our bedroom.

Can you recommend a local artist who deserves some love?

Nicole Ida Fossi at Studio Gallery in DC makes some beautiful portraits and super unique botanical paintings. 

Follow Anna's collecting and life adventures on Instragram: @annagryskevich

Collectors, want to share you wisdom and show off your favorite pieces? Shoot me a message via the Contact page, and I'll give you the details. I'm always looking for new and varied collectors to feature here!