Looking for unique posters and affordable art!
March 5, 2009 4:51 PM   Subscribe

Any ideas for affordable artwork? Something beyond movie and band posters?

I'm interested in affordable artwork for my apartment. By affordable, I mean art for under $100. So far I've bought a silkscreened poster and a gorgeous photograph on Etsy. I also enjoy buying art from 20x200 (www.20x200.com)

Shops like art.com are so overwhelming (so is etsy, actually). I have an easier time if I have an idea of something unique to look for. Here are some examples of unique, affordable art that I enjoy:

Pirate posters by 826Valenica.org (yes, Dave Egger's charity) http://www.826valencia.org/store/shop_posters.html

Art created by the WPA for Roosevelt's New Deal -- spectacular graphic posters from the 30s and 40s--very cool!

Posters from book covers, like this great Catcher in the Rye poster:

This is the unique art I'm interested in. If you ever saw something cool on someone's wall, or this question makes you think of your favorite online store, please share!!

posted by secretsecret to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Do you know any artists? If you're friends with an artist, you can often get stuff on the cheap--especially if it's stuff they don't think will sell. Mind you, it doesn't work to be at a party and be like, "Oh, you paint? What've you got for $100?" I'm talking about friends who have stuff they don't think is going to sell for the going rate or that they don't like and want to get out of their sight (surprisingly common with the artists I've known).

You also might try local art schools. I know lots of my friends from art school would have leaped at the opportunity to sell one of their class projects for anything, let alone $100. It's probably not as polished as something they'll do later, but it's no less artistic and probably just as decorative.

I've gotten all of my original art by befriending artists. I got my favorite giant painting in exchange for an air conditioner. I have another painting and a photograph that were wedding presents. What do you do? Can you trade your craft for art?

Also, many photographers sell small prints for less than $100. Since they can mass produce the prints, there's less of a need to sell each one at a high price. Paintings and sculpture tend to be far more expensive, since material costs are higher and they're usually one-offs.
posted by Netzapper at 5:10 PM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Well, can't tell where you're from. But if there is an art school in the vicinity, go down there. Most of the stuff you see there will be crap, but there will be a few things, almost certainly, that really speak to you. Art students, as a stereotype, are short on cash. And they like the thought that you are banking on their becoming famous someday. Find something you love, find the artist, make an offer or ask them what they'd take for it.
posted by bricoleur at 5:28 PM on March 5, 2009

Steve Keene y'all.
posted by tealsocks at 5:29 PM on March 5, 2009

Response by poster: lalex -- Thanks! I'm digging into that list right now!
posted by secretsecret at 5:35 PM on March 5, 2009

How about wall decals? I get compliments on mine.
posted by prefpara at 5:46 PM on March 5, 2009

You can go to DeviantArt and get something printed onto a canvas if you want to go high quality and you're wanting to find something specific and quick. I just checked and seems you can find something for under $100 pretty easily.

But real art, originals, might be something you'll have to take your time looking for. Try going to street fairs in the summertime or going to galleries and check into the artists you like. Getting something direct from the artist will be much cheaper because the galleries charge at least 2x the price (commission). Some artists will even do custom work and you can ask for something small and in the color scheme that works in your place. My mother does this exact sort of thing at our farmer's market, I imagine you can find someone similar where you live.
posted by lizbunny at 5:56 PM on March 5, 2009

I understand from what point you are asking this question.
I can't answer it directly because I know too many artists and I have a very specific (and evolving) taste that is perfect for me but not necessarily for anybody else.
So I will try to help you differently.
Art is about things that look interesting, but only marginally so. Art is more about people who are looking at the world in interesting ways. At least in a way that resonates with some kind of very personal yearning(s) you have.
So my advice would be: aesthetic criteria are useful, but only at level one: eliminate everything that you don't like. Once you are in the "like" category, select the images that move you: don't look at the image, look for what is happening inside yourself. Keep the best one. Then look at the signature, the author. That's where you aesthetic territory is: not in images but in the people who create them. In the long run, your artistic sensibility - and bliss - will be defined by artists, not by art.
posted by bru at 6:09 PM on March 5, 2009

Local art fairs are a good source. There will certainly be some expensive stuff, but there will also be a lot of stuff for under $100.
posted by oddman at 6:11 PM on March 5, 2009

1. I used to go to a really neat open mic night at somebody's house in JP. The guys there were pretty heavily bohemian and spent a lot of time creating art and encouraging other people. There were a number of excellent sculptures, found art, and traded art pieces on display in their house. I traded some extra audio equipment I had for a neat piece that I really liked.

2. If you have some creativity and a few cans of paint, you have an awesome mural. Hell, if you aren't creative, have a painting party for your creative friends. Drinks in glasses, nice clothes, provide a few smocks, and before anyone leaves have them leave a little piece of design on a designated wall.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:43 PM on March 5, 2009

Have you tried an art museum? Especially when they have a unique exhibit? Sometimes, you can find some really cool things in their gift shop. I went to the DIA when they had the Ansel Adams exhibit, and I purchased a book of his photographs that were about postcard sized. I then framed my favorites and randomly put them on the wall, kind of like a collage of framed pictures. They are random, but not scattered. If that makes sense.

Also, I'm with the whole art school or friends idea. I'm lucky that my best friend is a very talented artist and I basically get to pick out whatever I want (or something custom made) for holiday gifts. So, ask your friends if they know of any artists personally. The ones that don't make a living off their art are usually the ones that you can find the best deals.

Another option is a small, local art gallery. I know that there are some that sell very expensive artwork. But, there are also some that sell stuff by local artists and aren't really snooty or too expensive (and you can sometimes haggle the prices). If I was at home, I would post some pictures of the great pieces that I picked up at my local gallery. And for less than $100!
posted by kochanie at 7:26 PM on March 5, 2009

Bridget Riversmith... full disclosure: not exactly a self link but close
posted by edgeways at 7:59 PM on March 5, 2009

I agree with that Deviant Art is a great place to find some interesting art direct from the artist. Have you looked into the Fine Art Adoption Network? On that site, artists post up original works that are available for shipping/handling costs if you agree to provide a good home to them. Why go with posters when you can get the real thing?

posted by Blindstone2 at 8:57 PM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thumbtack Press
posted by sad_otter at 10:32 PM on March 5, 2009

Hess and Hodi
posted by IndigoJones at 5:31 AM on March 6, 2009

I was going to suggest 20x200 and Etsy. I'll also second art students. A lot of times, the schools have sales at the end of the year of the work students have done.

Aside from those, you should try Threadless.

And for general perusal, sites like NotCot showcases a bunch of artsy stuff. Occasionally, it's artwork.
posted by carpyful at 11:06 PM on March 7, 2009

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