Unless you’re really committed to decorating your home with museum posters, acquiring and hanging original art can be a risky and expensive undertaking. It’s hard to know exactly how a print or painting will look once it’s hanging on your wall, and sometimes you find out you don’t like something only after you’ve made a big mistake.
Several companies, such as Pixels.com and Saatchi Art are seeking to alleviate such uncertainty with technologies like augmented reality — letting you choose an art work and see what it looks like on your wall.
The newest entrant into this arena is Curioos, a marketplace where curated artists from 80 countries sell their original work to a worldwide audience with art-challenged walls. The marketplace, originally derived from a Tumblr, currently stocks some 5,000 original works.
With Curioos, you enter the market via your mobile device or the Web site to observe photos and paintings in various categories such as Urban Art, So Surreal, Black & White, and others. You can filter by art type, theme, products and collections and even do color-based searches.
You can order art in a variety of sizes and on different media such as fine art prints, canvas, aluminum, and acrylic glass prints. As you browse, you can save your favorite works for viewing later via a companion app — available for iOS and Android — directly on your wall.
Not every print on Curioos is available via augmented reality. One of my favorites, The City, was not and in those cases, be prepared to buy your art the old-fashioned way. The app did offer to show me other examples of the same genre, or by the same artist.
When you’ve chosen some art to look at, the preview gives you a numbered code to punch in through which you can view it directly on your wall. When the art appears, you can resize it, view it with black or white frames and tap to see your saved favorites.
Using the augmented reality feature involves having a printed tracker (QR code) posted in the space where you intend to hang the art work. Having to print the tracker unfortunately adds a clunky analog element to the process, which for some might prove an obstacle if your printer balks at the document, or you’ve run out of ink, or you don’t have a printer.
I had to jump through some hoops to get the tracker printed — though you can use the tracker directly from your laptop without printing it, if need be.
Then, there’s a technique to getting the room in view. You first have to center the app’s camera close to the tracker, but then you can gradually step back to get more perspective on the room. Then, you can use the snapshot feature to record the scene for future reference or to share with friends and family for that all-important second opinion.
Using Curioos and other augmented reality art technology seems like a lot of effort, but when you’re about to lay down several hundred dollars for a piece of art, sight unseen, it provides something of a comfort level.