Aaaand…. we’re back! While we’ve been keeping the oil-lamps burning over on our Instagram and Facebook accounts, the windows have definitely been a bit dark over here at UrbanistaAtHome.com for quite a while – I’m sorry! Since the last official blog post I’ve uploaded (back in October 2015) I’ve had 2 (yes 2!) moves.We’ve now been in our most recent apartment for almost 2 months now, and are finally starting to feel settled in.
I’ve always liked the look of gallery walls – one blank wall of a room, covered in a carefully curated collection of images and frames. Rather than just providing decoration, a gallery wall tells a lot about the person who created it – the choice of images, the colour scheme, the placement of the frames. I’ve seen gallery walls that aim to lend a theme to a room (such as a nautical theme in a bathroom, or a woodland creatures theme in a child’s bedroom). I’ve also seen gallery walls that stick to a colour scheme to draw together elements of the room and the furniture around it. My favourite kind of gallery wall are the ones that reflect the life experiences of the home owner – a collection of pictures collected along the way that tells you a bit about who they are.
My boyfriend (let’s call him the Urbanisto to my Urbanista) and I wanted to create a gallery wall that would represent the both of us – capture both of our personalities, our likes and our spirits. The very first image came from my own gallery I had made back in my room at my parent’s, before we had moved in together. It’s one of my favourite Harry Potter quotes, and a few years back, inspired by others online, I used PicMonkey to set it in white font against a black background, and paired it with the iconic glasses and lightening bolt scar. Reading the Harry Potter novels was a hugely formative part of my adolesence, and I remain, to this day, happily a part of the Harry Potter fandom. Using a simple photo editing tool like PicMonkey is a great way to make your own literary-inspired wall prints – simply pick a quote, set it against a solid coloured background that works with the colour scheme of your gallery wall, and add one or 2 simple graphics if desired. Print and frame, and you’ve got a custom piece of art instead by your favourite novel!
The second picture to join the collection was the centre image, of the 2 astronauts embracing against a black background. One of the EDM artists both I and the Urbanisto really like is Kygo – I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to his music (hey, I totally get it if you aren’t into EDM) but I think it’s pretty much impossible to listen to the beachy tropical inflections in his songs and not walk away feeling at least a little bit more upbeat . The music video for his song “Stole the Show” is pretty magical, with just the right combination of sci-fi mystery, romance and xylophones (yes, they can go together!) The Urbanisto and I loved the mysterious story of the 2 astronaut lovers, and so for hisbirthday, I commissioned a digital art rendering of them from an amazing artist on Etsy, Kirsty Hampson (who, by the way, I cannot sing enough praises for… check her out if you need a digital art piece commisioned!) Like the Harry Potter print, the image is set on a black background… and here you have the beginnings of my black and white gallery wall.
Because these 2 prints feature a lot of black, I knew I wanted to keep within the same colour scheme. However, I’ll admit right now – the black and white scheme was also chosen due to budgetary considerations! We wanted the flexibility of printing our own pictures, and we only have a black and white printer, so it was pretty much a stroke of luck that our other already-existing prints were right in the colour scheme!
Printing some of your gallery pictures is a great way to save money. Digital art downloads on sites like Etsy are often a lot more inexpensive than buying a paper print at a shop or online. It’s also way faster than ordering and waiting for it to be delivered in the mail!
As well, there are a lot of amazing vintage black and white images available in the public domain, free for public use and printing, and a lot of them are pretty awesome! The Urbanisto and I are both pretty nerdy when it comes to science, biology and history (I love my zoology and animal biology, and the Urbanisto is a huge sci-fi and dinosaur fan.) We found a lot of great vintage images on Pixabay of old-school black and white biology drawings, and found 2 dinosaurs the moon, and the elephant that we thought would work perfectly. Pixabay is great because you can search by colour scheme, category and size, and it’s all free! And of course, if dinosaurs are involved, there must be a T Rex present – we found the gorgeous black and white T-Rex image by Laura Carter on AnimalsClipArt (yes, a clipart site!)
Searching around the internet for more free-to-use black and white art yielded the beautiful collection of black and white patent drawings at Primer Magazine’s site (definitely check it out, there are patents for cameras, motorbikes, and other poster-worthy images). My dad’s family is Dutch, and as a family with way more bikes than we had room for in our basement, we’ve always identified with the bicycle culture of Holland. The bicycle patent was a perfect representation of this part of my life, the antique vibe fit nicely with the vintage black and white biology drawings.
Star Wars is to my boyfriend what Harry Potter is to me – and any wall gallery that represents us would require at least one Star Wars print. Looking at the vintage science images and the bicycle patent print, we thought another blueprint/patent style image would work perfectly to balance out the wall. When I asked the Urbanisto which Star Wars ship he’d most like a patent print of on our wall, without hestiation he said “Imperial Star Destroyer”. One trip to Etsy later, we had ourselves a gorgeous black and white digital download of an Imperial Star Destroyer blueprint, thanks to Denny H. at Print Point.
We needed just one last print to balance everything out, so when we came across a black and white greeting card with a little figure hugging a whale in Pina, a local clothing and art shop in Tofino, BC, we knew it was the perfect addition to our wall. While visiting Tofino, we went on a boat trip up the Clayquot Sound, and were lucky enough to see a juvenile humpback whale from our boat. The card was the perfect souvenir for the trip,and it fit into the frame just right.
Figuring out the layout of the pictures was one of the tricker parts of the project. We layed all of the pictures on the ground, in an area similar in size to the wall we were going to be posting them on. We played around with layout for quite a while, and even hassled some guests to give us their feedback on what looked best where! We finally decided on a layout, but transfering it to the wall was a whole ‘nother ball game.
Using a tip I’d seen demonstrated on the Marilyn Denis show (a daytime talk show here in Canada), I traced each of the frames onto brown kraft paper, and cut out the silhouettes, labeling each with a description of the picture it represented. With a level tool and a measuring tape, we set out to tape them to the wall in the order we had laid out the pictures on the floor. Although we still used the leveling tool throughout, we gave up on spacing the frames out perfectly and decided to free-hand the placement in a rough estimate, which gave it a much more organic feeling. After marking on each piece of paper where a nail should go, we hammered the nails in and ripped the paper off the wall. Then, level tool in hand, we assembled the gallery, frame by frame.
So far, we love our gallery wall! It is the perfect represention of us, and brings that extra bit of personality to our new home. I hope we’ve inspired you to curate your own collection! I will follow up soon with a fuller listing of all the great sites I’ve found with free-to-use printable images that are perfect for gallery walls. Until then, have a wonderful summer and keep on creating 🙂
Urbanista At Home