Dressing Up your Walls with Mason Lane Art Advisory

Katharine is a mom and wife living in Brooklyn. She majored in Art History and Economics at Williams College in 2004 – a time when people weren’t so sure how art and business could work together. She received her Masters in Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute in London and has been pursuing business-related positions within the art world ever since.

Katharine has experience working at institutions like MoMA, Christie’s, and Gurr Johns, a boutique international appraisal firm. “I was lucky to have a ton of responsibility and exposure with these positions – I traveled to art fairs in Europe, developed marketing plans for our Singapore office, and always worked closely with leaders of each organization to understand what fuels a successful business. When I had the opportunity to build my own business, I took it.” Enter Mason Lane.

Amelie Belanger for Mason Lane / Raymond Handler art

Mandalyn: What is Mason Lane and how did it begin?

Katharine: Mason Lane is a Brooklyn-based art advisory firm that helps residential and corporate clients style walls nationwide. We help clients figure out what to put on their walls, where to save and where to splurge, and ultimately what’s going to give their space some soul.

I founded Mason Lane 3 years ago because I saw a gap in the market; people who wanted to buy interesting, affordable artworks for their walls didn’t know where to get it, were unsure how it was priced, and hesitant about what they liked. I have a background in art and business, a love for design, and a track record for making clients happy, and I wanted to put it all together in one package. Other art advisors I knew were catering to the ultra-high net worth demographic, and that really didn’t interest me. Rather than helping clients purchase prized blue-chip artwork, I wanted to help new buyers finish their space with something compelling and different that they wouldn’t find on their own.

My process is efficient and approachable, allowing people who were previously intimidated by the art world acquire a baseline of knowledge and feel equipped to buy more art in the future.

Hand-painted mural. Image via Mason Lane

Mandalyn Your website says you do projects that are “big and small, pricey and not.” I love that! Can you give an example of each of those?

Katharine: I’ve worked on a few projects where the art budget is around $100k and the art was one of the first things considered in the gut renovation. Other times, I’m sourcing $300 pieces, framing them well, and doing a creative wall installation so the art looks polished and unique rather than low budget. One of my favorite go-to low cost projects is the family photo gallery wall — these bring people SO much joy!

mason lane gallery wall in city family homeMandalyn: How do you approach a gallery wall installation?

Katharine: Gallery walls are a fan favorite service! Who doesn’t want family photos beautifully displayed in their home? The key to gallery walls is that they really are not a DIY project (as often advertised). There are just too many steps for it to be enjoyable and look polished: getting frames; selecting, printing, and framing pictures; creating a balanced template; installing pieces correctly. Clients hire us to take care of everything.

Our first step is to present frame options to the client. Once the client picks frames, we create a few to-scale templates of how to arrange the gallery. Then we select photos and print them using a professional photo lab.  Finally, we put the pictures in the frames and hire an installer to hang everything level and flush to the wall without causing damage. All of these are key details best handled by a professional.

Mandalyn: Can average people afford real art?

Katharine: Yes! Art is a broadly defined word. At Mason Lane, we focus on styling walls with fine art, crafty finds, functional styled shelving, and even creative paint and wallpaper concepts. It doesn’t need to be pricey, and we identify ways for each client to create a balanced, complete, and personalized look to fit their budget and their space.

Mandalyn: Do you work directly with clients or alongside interior designers? I work directly with clients and alongside designers.

Katharine: We have a program through which designers keep total ownership of their clients and I present art options. Designers can also refer their clients to me and stay as involved or uninvolved as they want. I am flexible and enjoy either structure, though working alongside a designer and collaborating to totally transform a space is my favorite type of job.

Images via @masonlane_art

Mandalyn: Does living in Brooklyn help your business thrive creatively?

Katharine: Definitely.  Brooklyn has become a huge design hub and there are a ton of creative “makers” that are giving the word “crafty” a much improved rep. Having access to those makers is both helpful for sourcing purposes, and also inspirational since creativity is contagious. Also, having strong relationships with creative business people is incredibly value as I’m always learning something and expanding my network.

Mandalyn: What’s your favorite park in Brooklyn to visit with the family?

Katharine: Cobble Hill Park. It’s quaint and beautiful in every season!

Find Katharine and Mason Lane on Instagram, or on masonlaneart.com for beautiful examples of styled walls and art in real homes.