Art is one of life’s cultural delights that makes our every day that bit brighter. In the way that we consume culture by watching our favorite TV show to switch off, or read a book to de-stress, art can serve as mini bursts of joy every time it catches our eye. But art in the traditional sense is often unfairly labeled as being a luxury item for the very wealthy. When we start to broaden our perceptions of what counts as art, it becomes clear that art is for anyone and everyone to enjoy, and ownership is not determined by a price tag.

Artist Elyssa Dorf owns the design studio Cheery Designs, which has one simple mission of spreading joy. Elyssa’s pop art style, pop culture inspired pieces are always bursting with color and splashy, eye-catching designs. By creating work that is ever-evolving with the current trends, she wants to encourage more people to introduce art into their homes and remind them just how broad art can be. “There is a misconception that in order to appreciate art, you have to be an artist,” she says. “Just like picking your favorite color is intuitive, art is the same way. You will know when a piece resonates with you and sparks joy.” Elyssa adds that exploring local, up-and-coming artists in the best way to dabble in your own artistic tastes at an affordable price, while supporting the local industry. 

“People think that you have to be a connoisseur to appreciate art,” Elyssa explains. “Whereas, the true beauty of art is that there is no right or wrong answer.” Choosing the right piece of art to introduce into your home is of course about its aesthetic appeal, but most importantly it’s about how it makes you feel. “Think of art like dating,” Elyssa says. “You go off what you are attracted to – a gut feeling that you have.”

Endeavoring to actually start your art collection can be a little bit daunting for people who have never featured art in their home before. Elyssa’s advice is to shop small and local – whether it is a pop-up shop, a small boutique, Etsy shops, Instagram or Pinterest, there are numerous marketplaces both online or in real life that can help connect you to new artists. “You don’t need to drop thousands in a gallery to have art in your home,” Elyssa explains. “Instead, you can collect pieces over time from artists you meet first hand and places you travel.”

Elyssa also highlights that you shouldn’t feel pressured to build your art collection all at once, rather, you should let the art “come to you when you’re not looking”. Viewing your art collection as a checklist for each room is a sure-fire way to ensure that you don’t feel any emotional attachment to the pieces you will be looking at every day. “Instead you will discover pieces once you have the mindset of keeping your eyes peeled for things you like,” Elyssa explains.

Art has always been somewhat more detached from other cultural art forms like music and film – it tends to be viewed as a less accessible luxury, in contrast to the cultural forms that we integrate into our everyday lives. “No one thinks twice when it comes to being passionate about music and discussing the genres they like or dislike even if they are not a musician. Art should be the same way. There is this stigma associated with visual art that isn’t so much hooked to music. I hope that through Instagram, Pinterest, Etsy, and all the platforms that are making art more accessible to the masses, that it becomes more of a conversation starter the way music is.” Elyssa adds that the way to do this is by tagging your friends in pieces that remind you of them or that they would like, in the way we do with memes, food, or pet pictures. “Whether it is pop art because they are a pop culture fanatic, landscape art because they are nature lovers, or art that represents their culture, there is something for anyone and everyone to enjoy.”

Elyssa’s very own Cheery Designs was born out of her own pop culture fanaticism. Her work plays off of urban influences, a love of reality television, popular songs, designer brands, sports teams, inspirational messaging, and trending colors. She takes pride in knowing that “there is nothing terribly complex that requires interpretation, but instead is an ode to the moment in time or a passion.” This relatable quality is what makes her pieces so appealing to a wider audience rather than art that is niche. 

We have realized now more than ever how art and culture can feel like a necessity more than a luxury. While it’s not a basic sustenance like food or water, in a time when many of us have been deprived of basic social interactions, trips with friends and family time, art in all forms really does bring happiness, enhance our lives and feed our souls. “In a world that can be dark, why not brighten it with art,” Elyssa says.

Find out more about Cheery Designs here.