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How to Choose Art for Your Home: L.A. Designer Joyce Downing Pickens Shares her Best-Kept Secrets

Claire Harper | December 22, 2020 | Home & Real Estate Lifestyle

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Joyce Downing Pickens was born with artistic tendencies. It didn’t hurt that the L.A.-based designer’s father encouraged this passion for creativity. “I have always loved art and anything creative,” says Pickens. “As a child, my dad had a rule that he was happy to fund anything we wanted as long as it was creative. If we wanted a toy, that was on us, but if we wanted an art kit, he’d buy it. It cultivated a very creative childhood,” she says.

5 Tips for Choosing Art for Your Home

Flash forward to now, and art is everywhere in the Angeleno’s life—especially in her professional ventures. After moving to L.A. to attend design school, Pickens found herself working at Nathan Turner’s shop on Melrose. “When I left, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” she starts, “but friends hired me to help them with their spaces and it snowballed from there.”

Now one of the area’s top interior designers and owner of JDP Interiors, Pickens knows a thing or two about finding the right artwork to complement her spaces, which are known to blend new and old-world aesthetics. “Everything in a room should work in cohesion,” she says. “Art should be something that feels like it adds to and complements the design.” But when it comes to picking the perfect piece, it’s certainly not a singular effort. “Art is so personal. It usually takes plenty of collaboration between the client and me in order to land on a final piece,” shares Pickens, who cites A.E.U. Studio, Carly Kohn and Isabella Innis as some of her favorite local artists, and The Agoura Antique Mart as her guilty pleasure. “Going up there to find old paintings is my favorite thing.”

When Pickens isn’t busy transforming spaces with her signature bold, timeless and textural design aesthetic, you can find her tapping into another passion. “I have an easel in the living room and love to paint. I am not trained and haven’t created anything I would be willing to share yet, but I find it so cathartic,” she shares. We have a feeling she’s just being modest!

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Pickens' Top Tips

1. What advice would you give someone choosing art for their home? Look for softer earth-toned palettes and vintage paintings or modern artists that use the same principles as vintage artists in their brushstrokes and color palettes.

2. What’s one thing that must always be considered in the curation process? Think about size and scale.

3. The one thing you should never do when selecting pieces? Don’t think of art singularly. It can rarely just be placed in a room successfully with little to no thought of how the design works as a whole.

4. Best places to find good artwork? Vintage, antique marts and local art fairs

5. If you could only give one sentence of advice for finding artwork what would it be? Go old.



Photography by: In order of appearance, photos by: Amy Bartlam; Bess Friday; Amy Bartlam