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The Subject Matter Story

Subject Matter was founded to be the reverse of the scary-art world stereotype. You know what we're talking about: cold white galleries, no prices, intimidating staff, wall text that could be written in a foreign language, piles of bricks laid artfully on the floor (an installation!) costing tens of thousands of pounds. 

We know that buying art is infinitely more long-lasting and satisfying than buying a statement handbag. But we also know that it seems far, far easier to buy that handbag. 

That's why we want to banish the discomfort, and make it easy and rewarding for you. So you can celebrate those big moments in your life - a pay rise, a new home, a wedding - with art. 

Kitty Dinshaw and Liezel Strauss

So firstly, hi 👋 we're Liezel and Kitty.

Liezel and her husband Jon founded Subject Matter in Tokyo in 2011, one of the world's first online art galleries, with a dream of making art-buying enjoyable for everyone. Moving around the world for a decade, to many different cities - Cape Town, Hamburg, London, Tokyo - they'd had to create a new home so many times. And they found the common thread that helped them was the art that travelled around the world with them, and which gave them fresh delight every time they opened a packing crate. 

Kitty joined the business in 2015, after she and Liezel met in London (they were neighbours!). The two women now run the business together. Kitty grew up in a family that bought art, but living in a three generation home meant accommodating some *wildly* differing tastes. She learnt, literally from toddlerhood, that it genuinely does not matter what other people find tasteful, as long as you love what is on your walls. 

There are many unhelpful myths that have grown up around buying art; and they only paralyse us. These include buying art for investment or needing to be educated in order to understand art. Please let those go. Just think about all the brilliant things that will happen to you once you take that leap, with that artist, and that artwork. 

Three artworks by Kris Lamorena

Why Buy Art?

Firstly, buying original art means that you are engaging with, diving into and celebrating another human being's creativity. Which is pretty amazing, right? Never forget that artists also have bills to pay, materials to buy, children to support - so by choosing to purchase this artwork and not a mass-produced print, you are also helping someone make a living from their craft. And you can keep in touch and follow their career, which is brilliant and beyond rewarding when you realise you had a part in their success. 

We always say that buying art is the ultimate sustainable purchase. You can pass it on to your grandchildren, your friends; it lives on forever. If you buy from an ethical gallery that pays its artists fairly (like us) then you know that you are doing a 100% good thing when you buy art. You are supporting another human being and giving your home a soul. 

Camilla Bliss in her studio, London.

Don't Worry About...

Buying art for investment. Art is the world's largest unregulated market and there are so many sharks out there. You'll never be able to control what the market decides should go up or what should go down, so instead buy something that you love and if the artist makes it big, that's a bonus for you. You will already have benefited by having years of something beautiful on your wall. 

What the art you buy says about you and your taste. Opinion has been divided on literally every single artwork in history - even the Mona Lisa! - so this is really not something you need to consider. If it speaks to you, and if it fits your space, then go for it 💨

The artists we present to you here are all artists we admire; many we have worked with for years and others are brand-new talents. We'd love to have each and every one of them in our home, and yours.