As my interest in interior design has grown over the last year and half, one of the first concepts that really took a hold of me is the power of artwork in the home. There are many merits to displaying art, not least of which is simply to avoid bare and boring walls. But beyond that I find that art has the potential to be the most sincere and illuminating form of personal expression when designing your home. Certainly the paint colors and furniture styles you select say a lot, but the images that you choose to frame and nail to your walls can indicate so much about your personality and illicit an array of feelings from you and your guests.
If you’ve never given much thought to seeking out art for your home beyond family photos, I challenge you to give a try. I know art isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and if you find yourself unable to get excited about anything I certainly wouldn’t want you to force it. But if you have even an inkling that hanging some art might be a rewarding process for you, don’t hesitate! There are a mind boggling amount of sources you can explore at every price point. I’ll talk more about some sources below as we take a look at my very modest little art collection I’ve started.
The very first thing that I ever framed and hung up in my home was actually a photograph that I took myself. So despite what I said earlier about looking beyond family photos, sometimes the perfect piece may actually be something you created yourself. It could be a really amazing family photo or a beautiful bird from the zoo or an amazing landscape from a vacation. I picked up this aluminum colored frame with mat included from IKEA for $20. I am very fortunate that my father owns a printing business and he was willing to print my photo in this large format at no charge.
My photograph was taken in Guatemala in January of 2008. I spent three glorious weeks there as part of a history class through my college. Myself and two other girls from my school spent one night in this tiny home situated high in the breathtaking mountains. This trip, and this night in particular, was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had and is responsible for my enduring love of mountains. This is an example of the perfect kind of personal photo to have framed and treat as a piece of art in your home. Not bad for a completely spontaneous point-and-shoot shot!
For a long time that picture from Guatemala was the only thing hanging on my walls. I’ve spent lots of time browsing the internet falling in love with various art pieces, but it wasn’t until July of this year that I saw something that I loved so much that I just had to have it immediately.
It was “Green Cat” by Argentinian artist Maria Elina Méndez, who can be found on Etsy. It’s quirky, adorable, a lovely sketchy style, and I love the pop of minty green, one of my favorite colors. I received #1 in an edition of 10 prints. Including tracked shipping this print cost $45, which is not exactly cheap but I love it so much and it really served to kick-start my adventure in collecting art.
Not even two months later I once again found myself drawn to something I found on Etsy. It was this vintage illustration by Arthur Rackham depicting a scene from a poem that I was previously unfamiliar with called “Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti. I was really struck by how beautiful it is and how expressive the figures are. It’s also quite a bit creepy, which makes it a little bit of an edgy choice. I like to imagine I’m capable of being edgy. Haha. This scene shows Lizzie enduring the temptation of the delicious fruits offered by the goblins, which she knows would cause her to become horribly ill and eventually die. More than anything I was really drawn to the look on this girl’s face. It is one of strength and quiet determination, which are characteristics I really admire.
I picked up this print for what I consider a steal at $10 from Etsy seller King Paper who has over 1000 vintage prints for sale, the vast majority of which are also priced at $10. There are lots of different artists and styles represented. Definitely worth a look, and if you find anything you like you can get 10% off with the coupon code at this link.
The simple white frames for “Green Cat” and “Goblin Market” are from Michael’s, they were on sale for $12 a piece. Something worth investing in if you’d like to collect art are tools for cutting your own mats. There are very expensive kits out there, or you could cheap out like me and just get a simple mat knife. This method requires either an insanely steady (and strong) hand or the ability to let it go when your cuts aren’t perfectly straight. A big old sheet of acid-free matting board cost me $13 and so far I’ve used half of it to mat three pieces.
Remember my recently painted dining room and its woefully bare walls? While I considered hanging “Green Cat” or “Goblin Market” here (and I still might down the road), I didn’t hesitate at all when it came to this latest find.
On an evening in late September I browsed almost the entirety of my local antiques store before stumbling upon a collection of old framed prints of bird drawings for four dollars each! The bird prints were nothing special, but I was completely smitten with the vintage golden frames with beautifully worn edges. I am so cheap I almost didn’t get them, but then I realized that I could pop out the bird prints and reuse the frames to my liking and I was sold. There were three frames, but the glass was cracked on one of them so I picked up the other two.
When I got home I checked my email and found a coupon code for the art website 20×200 in my inbox for $20 off of a $50 purchase. FATE. I am one of those cheap people that has a dark side that occasionally comes out and causes me to make wildly impulsive purchases.
$30 (plus $12.50 for shipping) is no drop in the hat for me, but that coupon code was going to expire and I had fallen in love with “Can You Imagine” by Trey Speegle. The piece is based on a vintage paint-by-numbers that Speegle enlarged and created with 60 custom colors, blocking out the text in the process. I think it’s beautiful, creative and whimsical, and I love the message. I framed it in one of my $4 golden frames and cut the mat myself.
So that’s my little art collection! I realized recently that all of my pieces are wildly different styles, and I love that. What follows is a little round-up of the top internet resources for art that I have enjoyed.
This one is huge. Etsy has hundreds of thousands of works straight from the artists themselves. Pricing everywhere from ridiculously low to the same thing you’d pay in a gallery. It can be tricky to find what you like amidst this massive resource, but if you’re diligent it can really pay off. Here’s a quick list of some of my favorite Etsy artists:
A recent find for me. 20×200‘s mission is to make great art more accessible to more people. To make everyone an art collector! Most prints are available in three or four sizes and are sold as limited editions, for example an edition of 200 small $20 prints (hence the name). There’s a pretty decent selection and the website is user friendly.
There’s a great selection of really high quality work at Society6, especially if you like graphic and modern art. Various sizes and formats at affordable prices. I purchased a gift from here once and it was wonderful.
Comment below if you know of any other great art sources
that I should add to my list!