Smart Thrifty Art

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


So last week a friend of mine mentioned that she needed to work on art in her apartment.  Without further provocation, I immediately dished my secrets and what I had done, whether she liked it or not.  I think she liked though, which is why I'm going to word vomit further about my tips for finding and framing affordable art.

I already told you guys about 20x200, which is a site that has some great pieces by artists, starting at just $20 for the prints.  I just recently bought this print by Jennifer Sanchez and am oh so impatiently awaiting its arrival.  It's going to look perfect in my living room and bring in a little bit more of a modern feel.

I love all the texture in this print, and the circular shapes are juxtaposed nicely and give a stark contrast with the white mat and simple black frame.  Luckily, I don't have to gush over it since it is en route to my apartment and will begin its long life with me and the rest of my decor.  Yay!

So source number 1 = 20x200.  Check it out if you haven't already.  They've got some pretty funky stuff and I totally dig it.

On to le deux.  I love vintage posters, and since the real ones cost a gagillion dollars, and no, I still haven't gotten that 1,000% raise purely for my shopping needs, I turned to Amazon.  Yep, that's right, Amazon.  When I was down and out from a surgery and on crutches for 8 weeks, I chose to 1) start a blog, and 2) online shop compulsively since I could not move.  One of those mornings when I was wishing for a delicious iced grande non-fat latte with a splash of half and half (yeah, I know it defeats the purpose of skim milk, leave me alone), I decided to start curating my art collection.  While they totally kill you on shipping (why does the world want so much money to send me a vintage poster?), I sucked it up.  One of my favorites I got was this Monte Carlo poster via the Poster Revolution shop on Amazon.  It's been sitting under my bed for quite some time, but I finally found a frame for it and will be hanging it soon--so stay tuned.  I found this particular print and a few others by searching "vintage ad poster", a bunch of awesome ones come up and at that point Amazon is your oyster (yum, I miss me some East Coast Wellfleet oysters!)

And so brings us to numero tres.  Yup, you guys knew this one was coming, flea markets.  What ever would we do with out them?  There are tons of unique art at flea markets, but my primary recommendation would be to high tail your butt over to a booth with vintage prints.  Almost every flea market has one.  What you'll find here are intricate and beautiful prints of botanicals, insects, animals, etc.  Back in the day, the only way we could reproduce an image of a new bug or flower was to draw it and distribute it.  Fast forward to today, and some guy is making a pretty penny selling individual pages from old books with insanely beautiful drawings of plants and crickets.  My style is sort of eclectic vintage modern, and whenever I find myself with to many modern things, I like to add in a little old world feel.  Along with this flea market suggestion comes 3.5) thrift and antique stores, which are great sources for oil paintings.  I've found quite a few beautiful still lifes for under $20, and since every thrift store is different, you never know what you'll find.

Callie Helen Road Sign I
4.  Etsy.  Whatever it is you're looking for, watercolor, charcoal, oil, photography, typography, etc., you'll be able to find something on Etsy.  I have an irrational fear that if I post my Etsy favorites that when I go to purchase they will all be gone.  Yep, completely irrational since everyone has different tastes and I'm also fairly certain that the amount of people actually reading this blog may barely be in the double digits, but nonetheless an actuality.  I will, however, give in and show you this limited edition road sign print with vibrant unexpected colors and relaxed feel.  Just one example of some of the great finds available on Etsy.

5.  (Cinco.)  This one's a little subjective, but I feel like a total gem.  If you go to any nicer stationary/paper store, ie. Paper Source perhaps, they will always have expensive wrapping paper sold by the sheet.  And while they may be selling expensive wrapping paper, they are selling super cheap art!  Imagine that.  So in Westwood there's a little off the beaten path stationary store (next to Whole Foods) that has a ton of amazing paper for like 3.95 a pop.  They are antiqued looking, and have maps of Manhattan, Paris, etc., bird prints, and so on and so forth.  To the left is one of the maps, this particular one of Brooklyn, which I do not own since I am most decidedly NOT a bridge and tunnel type of gal (yes, I am an Upper West Side snob.  Sorry.  But not really.)  Anyways, my thrifty little self decided to purchase a few and frame them.  Perhaps not the best picture, I don't always know what I'm going to blog about, and when the mood strikes never have good pictures of examples in my own apartment, but am always afraid if I wait until I take good pictures (ideally that same day), that it will never happen.  I have proven myself right on several occasions, so you get the so-so pictures taken on my archaic iphone 3 that looks like an earthquake victim (cracked screen).  Oh well.  The main focus here is those framed maps on the left wall (but pictured on the right, confusing, I know) that I think turned out beautifully for only investing 3.95 + ridiculous amount of California state sales tax, plus the frame (ikea! 22 dollahs + ridiculous amount of California state sales tax (why you so expensive, California?)).  If you're doing a collage on your walls, you can also find some great textured paper to frame a portion of with a sizable mat, and add to your collection.

And now to 5.75/6, and the last piece of artwork on that wall, more closely depicted to the left.  Yes, that is a Van Gogh, and yes, in the past 20 minutes or so I DID in fact get that hefty raise purely for shopping purposes, and yes, it was in fact SO sizable that I decided to invest...NOT.  But it does look great, no?  Here's how I did it.  I drove my butt over to the Getty Center, and took a picture of the most exquisite paintings, mostly impressionists, and then printed the pictures out at CVS.  You can basically just call this free art, because it costs all of like 4 cents to print the image.  And, if you're wondering, no I didn't take these pictures on the sly, you are totally allowed to as long as you don't use flash photography.  Just crop out the frame when taking the picture, and you're golden.  I mostly chose the impressionist pieces in the event that I had to blow up the picture to avoid compromising the print quality since they are a little unfocused anyways.  Worked great for me, and out of all my art this might be my favorite, least expensive way to to bring in sophisticated pieces to your home.  A+ for creativity, no?

I know, this post is totally long, and if you've made it this far you are probably either my boyfriend (I'm totally not sure he reads this thing anyway) or perhaps a prized biddie (old school speak for best friend), but here's my last piece of advice.  Familiarize yourself with the IKEA website and the size of their frames, because they have some great looking ones for cheap.  A lot of their bigger frames are super versatile as well because they come with mat already inside the frame, which plays double duty for you in that it will fit 2 different sized prints.  If you're buying art online, make sure to check the measurements before you buy to ensure you can find a frame yourself--professional framing is super expensive, and if its an odd size or shape, consider an alternative if you're not married to it.  My last tip is to frame with a mat if you can, ALWAYS.  Sometimes its a bit of an inconvenience (read my stationary store prints don't have mats), but in my opinion your art will always look nicer with a beautiful mat inside adding depth (and sometimes texture--linen mats are gorg!).  You've probably had enough for now.  What type of art do you have in your house?  (read: comment on my posts so I feel cool, oh so faithful readers!)



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