When I first started designing interiors for clients, one of my major fears was art selection. How does one find cool and interesting art that doesn’t cost thousands of dollars? Little did I know back then, that the answer to that question was all around me. After years of searching and honing my skills, here are my suggestions for how to find beautiful, interesting, and affordable art. It’s going to take some digging, so if you’re up for the challenge…read on!
Consignment Shops & Antique Malls
I used to not understand consignment shops. Thrift store items with a higher price tag…huh? Turns out I was just looking at the wrong consignment shops. The shops in my area that I love to stop by at least once per week to check new inventory are where my style fits with the style of the shop owner (or booth owner in the case of an antique mall), and where the shop owner is interested in turning inventory quickly (read: lower prices). Discerning shop owners will turn away items that they aren’t interested in, so keep searching and find the shops and dealers that speak to you. I have found some amazing original oil paintings and sketches at my favorite consignment shops and antique malls ranging in price from $1 (no, that is not a type-o, see the cactus print above) to $60 (oil painting of city scene above) and $100 (pastel drawing by a California listed artist).
Oh eBay how I love you. Staying up until the wee hours of the morning in a frantic bidding war just as the last seconds of the auction run out is one of the great thrills of life. Like my suggestion regarding consignment shops, the same applies to eBay sellers; not all are created equal so search for the ones you love with the best prices. Recently I purchased 6 paintings from a woman in Bulgaria, all ranging in price from $30 – $120. That’s a steal for original old oil paintings. I love sharing my sources, so send me an email if you’re interested in a list of sellers from whom I frequently purchase art.
Helpful eBay tips:
- Flip through design magazines and blogs and take note of artwork being used. Then take that subject and type it into the eBay search bar. Examples: “vintage portrait of a woman”, “sailboat blue print”, “vintage watercolor landscape”, “antique star maps”. It works, trust me.
- Adding “vintage” and “antique” to your searches will help weed out the mass produced contemporary art that is also all over eBay.
I love the “buy it now” and “make an offer” auctions because I don’t have to babysit my item until bidding ends. Who really has time for that? Or worse…get attached to an item that I don’t win (this has happened on a few occasions and almost brought me to tears). When you make an offer, I find that it is fair and almost always accepted to offer 50% lower than the asking price.
Be Creative, Then Add a Frame
Take a book with strong visuals, such as a coffee table book featuring works of an artist, and when matted and framed correctly, and especially when displayed in a grouping, these can be awesome additions to a room.
Another way to get creative is to make your own art or frame a child’s Crayola scribble. I find this works best when dealing with abstract forms (unless of course you are a talented artist, which I am not). I don’t claim to be an artist, but I have given abstract paintings as gifts to clients and family members that don’t look like much until they are matted and framed, then suddenly I have people willing to pay a few hundred dollars for them. I have also created original art out of beads and buttons and then actually sold them on One Kings Lane (see above). It’s amazing what a frame can do.
These are just a few of my top resources for finding interesting and affordable art, what are some of yours? Share below and let us know!