‘I’d save my Conor Harrington print from a fire’

Pieces of me: Shaun Davin

Shaun Davin is a Dublin house painter, and has been collecting art since 2006. He recently co-curated Collector at the SO Fine Art Gallery on South Anne Street: a collection of prints and originals from contemporary and street artists from around the world, including Keith Haring, Banksy, Chloe Early and Damien Hirst. Many of the exhibits were from Davin's personal collection.

How would you describe your interiors style?

I’m definitely not a hipster and that’s reflected in my interior style and taste. I tend to prefer classic but modern understated pieces that wont date and won’t clutter the room. Sometimes less is more and if it’s not used it’s not needed. I like muted tones on the walls and soft off whites on the ceilings and trim.

As an art collector, I add colour and personality with my art collection, which I often rotate around the house and with pieces I loan out to my family. I’d rather see a print framed properly and up on the wall then in a folder gathering dust.


Any interior turn offs?

Pine furniture was on trend 20 years ago but should definitely go in Room 101 ...or at least prime it with BIN primer and paint it.

Which is the room in your home you enjoy the most?

The sitting room. I always have a few art books at hand in the room. I also just painted it in Farrow & Ball’s Skimming Stone and did a mini re-hang of some of my pieces. It’s my favourite colour and is a nice soft calming tone behind the art collection.

What tips do you have for would-be art collectors?

In terms of collecting art, limited edition fine art prints like silkscreens, or etchings are a nice introduction to collecting. That way, you don’t have to spend thousands build up a good art collection.

The best way to buy is from the publisher or from the gallery that is launching the print when its released.

Do some research and find an artist or style of print you like. Sign up to the gallery’s or artist’s mailing list to be notified on new releases. I buy a lot online, but ideally if you’re buying a fine art print, you should get it from a gallery, especially if its a silkscreen, etching or woodcut print. Each type of print has its own distinct feel and aesthetic, and seeing a print in the flesh is completely different to seeing a print online.

Personally, my two big questions are: “am I prepared to get this properly priced?” and “will I hang this on my wall indefinitely?” There are very few prints that will make a return, but it’s addictive.

How did you first start collecting art?

I'd watched a documentary on Charles Saatchi on Channel 4, about his collection at County Hall, and that really caught my attention. My interest in art collecting really started after going to see Hirst's New Religion exhibition in London 10 years ago. That was a pivotal exhibition for me, and it really fired up an interest in art and in silkscreen editions as well as in Damien Hirst's work. I bought a lithograph of The Last Supper. It was open edition, but signed, so I bought it for £100. I haven't got huge funds – I'm definitely just a regular guy – but you don't need a lot of money to get started. I've spent more on framing in some cases.

If you had €100,000 to spend on your home, what would you do?

If I was being practical I'd spend it on a slick kitchen and extension but if I was being totally indulgent I'd pull the trigger on an original Conor Harrington painting or Francis Bacon's lithograph, Study for a Bullfight.

What would you save in a fire?

A lot of the artists I collect have become friends over the years so there are pieces in my collection; each with its own little backstory. I'd grab a hand-painted vase by Dan Baldwin that I bought in 2011 before I knew him (we've become friends now). I'd save my Conor Harrington print, Tales of Blood and Slaughter, which took me a few months to get my hands on. His prints sell out in minutes now so they are getting very scarce at source. I also have a stunning Dave White original, Stag, a 27-layer silkscreen print with diamond dust. It's a huge piece and up close it looks like a painting as it's printed layer by layer. I also have signed books by Damien Hirst, Michael Joo, Obey, Conor Harrington and Dan Baldwin.

What travel destination stands out?

London is an amazing place for all things art, culture, design, and architecture. I tryto make a visit at least twice a year and plan around various exhibitions or art fairs. After that I have a soft spot for Italy. In April, I hope to travel to Venice for Damien Hirst’s new exhibition in the Punta della Dogna & Palazzo Grassi venues.