Can I give artwork as a wedding gift?
August 6, 2004 10:15 AM   Subscribe

Artwork for a wedding gift? It's probably a little risky, but I think I know their tastes such that it will go over well. [More, as usual, inside.]

So my best and oldest friend is getting married and I want to get he and his wife (to be) something really nice. There's a local artist who does some interesting work - I know they're familiar with him, and am *mostly* confident that they'd enjoy having a piece to hang in their home, etc.

However: I can't be certain that they'll like it. I'd insist that they let me get them something else if it wasn't to their liking, but they'd be far too polite to ever take me up on that.

So I was thinking that I'd run the idea by them first. But again, I fear they'd be to polite to tell me that they don't care for the work, etc.

Suggestions on how this might be handled tactfully? Should I give up the idea and buy them something more traditional?
posted by aladfar to Human Relations (7 answers total)
sounds like a great present.

can you talk to the artist? - if they like their work, but not that particular piece, the artist would probably agree to change it if you discussed it beforehand.

otherwise, just get it. people who don't have the guts to change/hide an unwanted present deserve to be damned to live with something they don't like, imho (and anyway, almost anything grows on you with time, in my experience).

you could probably get the artist to give a handwritten note, as a kind of "gift token", so that they choose the piece (perhaps to some size limit, given what you've paid), but i think that's a bit weak...
posted by andrew cooke at 10:45 AM on August 6, 2004

sorry - another idea. you could ask them if they like the work of that person. if they say yes, say that you want to buy them something, and get them to choose it. again, if it's a local artist i'm sure they'll be happy to arrange a subset of the works for them to select from beforehand. that would be pretty cool - like a private viewing...

(given previous similar questions i think you'll get some people - no names - blathering on about how it's something for them, not you, that you need to be 100% certain, etc etc. from what you've said you're already pretty sure. i think that's good enough. a gift should say something about the giver too, and at the end of the day, it's the thought, above all else, that counts, in my opinion. if you get something you like, and that you're reasonably sure they will like, you've done more than enough.)
posted by andrew cooke at 10:53 AM on August 6, 2004

I think andrew hit the nail on the head--going to an artist's gallery/workshop and choosing from small set of works would be a really nice experience, and a great way of getting all of you involved in picking the best piece for them.
posted by LairBob at 11:22 AM on August 6, 2004

naked and/or erotic artwork of the bride is usually a surefire hit. talk to an ex-boyfriend and get a picture blown up.

oh, you already have an artist in mind. nevermind. sounds like a great gift for an anniversary, but most people are just starting out/building lives when they first get married, so you might want to think about a more practical gift. did they register? if so, well...there's a reason for that.

so in all seriousness, i say give it up and get something more practical (screw tradition)
posted by taumeson at 12:15 PM on August 6, 2004

Response by poster: He's a local artist relative to me, not to them, so the idea of their visiting the gallery won't work (though that would probably be cool).

I was thinking that I might take some photographs of a few pieces and let them choose. I don't know the artist well, but I could probably work something out.

did they register? if so, well...there's a reason for that.

Yeah. That's part of the reason I'm hemming and hawing about it all. It's just that I care about them a lot and don't really want to get them a coffee pot that they'll soon forget about. Perhaps that is a bit selfish . . .
posted by aladfar at 1:58 PM on August 6, 2004

While I generally agree with taumeson's comment about practicality, I think there's definitely a "zone of exclusion" for very close friends to give meaningful, impractical presents. No one wants to sit down and unwrap nothing but toasters and coffee pots that they picked out themselves. (No one worth knowing, at least.) Trust me--a year later, while you're really happy to have all the practical stuff, it's impossible to remember who gave you what off the registry. You always remember who gave you the really cool stuff you never would've picked for yourself, though.
posted by LairBob at 2:05 PM on August 6, 2004

Another possible idea would be to arrange some sort of gift certificate for that artist.
posted by jazzkat11 at 2:35 PM on August 6, 2004

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