6 Affordable Ways to Bring More Art & Photography Into Your Home

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In a world that’s constantly changing, one truth seems to constantly remain – we want the spaces we live in to look beautiful. Back in prehistoric days Neolithic men used to draw on the walls of their caves, and while techniques and homes have evolved a lot since then, the principle remains the same. We need a place to retreat to so that it feels like we’ve put our stamp on it.

You may not believe it, but the days when only the rich and famous could afford to adorn their walls with art are long gone. If you look in the right places, you should be able to find some gorgeous, thought provoking, or quirky pieces of art for your own home (and if you’re lucky, something that ticks all three boxes). It may not be the Mona Lisa, but it’ll still impress the neighbours. Here’s how…

The student becomes the master

Even Picasso had to start somewhere. Not only is art by students less expensive than works by established artists, but it could also be a wise investment if they make it big. And of course, you’ll be helping to fund someone’s dream.

Sofasofa_Woman looking at artwork

As well as keeping an eye on your local colleges, art schools and universities, which will undoubtedly have regular exhibitions of their work (sign up for email updates so you don’t miss them), try the following websites to find original art by students:

  • Memyart allows art students to showcase their work for free, and you can browse the database to find pieces that you like and buy them at a hugely discounted price.
  • Degreeart is much the same as the above, and you can also commission your own pieces if you’d prefer.

Degreeart screenshot

Turn the page

Just as records can feature stunning images on their covers, so too can books. Coffee table art books are even better, as they usually feature a huge array of photography and imagery within their covers, on fantastic quality paper. They’re usually quite large, too, which can make a great impact.

If you’re not squeamish about slicing out a few pages, then you could get yourself a large number of beautiful prints for not much outlay at all – especially if you check charity shops for your tomes. Look out for books featuring prints of master artists like Van Gogh and Monet, and you could find some incredible pieces of classic art for a fraction of the usual price.

Strike a pose

It’s not for the faint hearted, but posing nude for a group of art students could yield great results. All it will cost is a few hours of your time – you may even get paid for your efforts – and at the end of the session there will be a number of pieces of art, all with a focus on you. If you like any of them you could probably buy them at a discounted rate, or may even be offered them for free.

In the same vein, if you’re a creative soul or you feel like trying something new, then you might want to try attending one of these sessions as an artist. That way, you’ll get the chance to benefit from expert advice from the session leader and the other artists, and be able to make your own unique piece, for the price of the session – which may even be free – and materials.

Fair’s fair

Sometimes you need to see art ‘in the flesh’, so to speak, and the best way to do that is at a fair or exhibition. There are plenty in London – the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea is a great example – but they also take place at venues across the country. The Buy Art Fair is an annual Manchester-based event, and Edinburgh has a popular fair, too.

affordableartfair screenshot

This website has details of art fairs taking place across England and Scotland.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Sofasofa Woman Blank Frames

One of the most fascinating aspects of art is how subjective it is – one person's random splatter of colour is another’s masterpiece. With that in mind, you may find that you already have some fantastic pieces of art lying in a box in the attic; you just hadn’t thought to display them. Here are some great examples that could look stunning with the right frame and location:

Records

Got a dusty box of LPs that you’ve been meaning to take to a car boot sale? Don’t book your table just yet. Many old album covers are worthy of a place in an art gallery, and are nothing like the CD covers we may see today, especially since vinyl records have larger covers that offer more space for the designer to work with.

Invest in a bespoke frame and display yours proudly on the wall – not only will this prove inexpensive, but it’ll show off your musical tastes, too. If you don’t have any records already, check local charity shops (we’ve seen them sold for as little as 10p each) or head to Record Store, an online Aladdin’s cave of artistic discovery, both musical and visual.

Packaging

Andy Warhol was onto something with those soup cans, and if it’s good enough for Andy then it’s good enough for us. Look out for retro editions of long-established brands and create your own wall art.

This is easier if you have an artistic flair yourself – a collage could work well – but you don’t necessarily need to be creative to use packaging in your home. A particularly pretty jar of coffee could easily become a plant pot or vase, for instance – or you could always reference Warhol himself and use an old tin of Campbell’s Tomato Soup…

Children’s pictures

Most of us simply place our progeny’s artwork on the fridge, but what about making a feature of it? Your little ones will feel incredibly special, and you’ll have a unique, original piece of artwork to boot.

As with the packaging, this is all about how you display it. Find a suitable frame; perhaps a particularly ornate, gilded frame would make a nice statement and look rather cute when juxtaposed with a simple drawing of stick people. If you’re artistic yourself, perhaps you could embellish the pieces, as this artist mother did.

Your photographs

If you’ve been lucky enough to visit an exotic location and take some beautiful snaps – or even if you managed to take a few particularly atmospheric shots of a cloudy sky over your own home – why not display them? Print out your photograph on some photo paper to place in a frame, or perhaps have the image printed on a canvas or throw cushion.

Nowadays, most of us have pretty great cameras on our mobile phones, and sometimes all that’s needed is a crash course in photography basics in order to create our own beautiful shots. This guide to photography is good for beginners.

A tangled web

If you know where to look online, you could find yourself a truly fantastic original piece for much less than you might have imagined. Here are some of our favourite sites:

  • Tiny Showcase offers a forum to both emerging and established artists, with affordable art for sale. The team also support charitable causes. Though they’re based in the USA, they have curated an exhibition in Edinburgh and they ship internationally. Other fantastic USA-based affordable art sellers include Eyebuyart, Minted and Little Paper Planes.

littlepaperplanes

  • Artgallery is UK-based, and the site offers a wide array of original art from both British and International artists. There’s also the option to spread the cost over 10 months with an interest-free loan.
  • Etsy is a treasure trove of curiosities and unusual items, and the range of art on sale is fantastic – from watercolour paintings to screen prints, vintage photography and even faux taxidermy, you’re sure to find something that’s perfect for you. Many of the pieces are also unique originals.
  • Most art lovers are culture vultures by nature, and can often be found exploring museums and galleries. Museum shops have come a long way since the days when all that could be found on the shelves was pencils and erasers, and now they often sell affordable prints too – and buying from them means that you’re helping to support the institution. Try the Victoria and Albert Museum shop, the Tate Gallery shop and the British Museum shop, all of which deliver to your home.

Posted in Art & Photography, Colour & Hue, Interior Design on 10th Oct 2014

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