Help me get some art.
June 20, 2010 8:38 PM   Subscribe

I want to fill my living space with art. Looking for: oversized posters and prints with high quality and reasonable cost, original work by fringe/unknown artists, and objects that could be hung like art (tapestries, quilts, etc.).

I'm in the Central Valley in California, so I can travel pretty much anywhere in the state without too much trouble: San Francisco, LA, San Diego, Sacramento, whatever.

Ordering stuff on the Internet is good too, but I do have fears that I would spend a lot of money for a reproduction or original that disappointed me once I saw it in person. I would want whatever I order to look great from inches away--little to no artifacts, etc.

(Detailed grain from film being blown up would be great, but digital blockiness indicating a too-low-res source would not be okay.)

I like most Maxfield Parrish, but I get the feeling he is the exception rather than the rule. Illustrators are generally not my thing. I like to see brush strokes. I like energetic compositions. I tend to shy away from the abstract.

None of that is set in stone. Just an idea of my taste.

Super large photography prints would be great. I don't know what kind of photography I like.

I don't really like Paul Klee, but I do like Twittering Machine a lot.

I really, really like Balthus.

Nocturne in Black and Gold is a favorite.

Huge prints would be excellent. Originals from unknown artists would also be great. Size is not a make or break issue. I just think it would be neat to have a large piece of art to look at.

I am on a budget.

Specific recommendations (i.e., not just "Maybe Something by This Artist" but more like "This Print of This Work from This Online Retailer I Have Used Before and Can Vouch For") would be preferred.
posted by jsturgill to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
Etsy often has some neat vintage art prints of varying quality and size for pretty cheap.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:43 PM on June 20, 2010

Best answer: The Bird Machine.

I love their work, and have been to the studio. I also have a LOT of Jay Ryan's stuff on my walls.

You should look into hand screen printed posters. Check out the Flatstock website.
Getting this kind of work gets you short run art, and it isn't expensive.
posted by bibliogrrl at 8:46 PM on June 20, 2010

Best answer: Have you checked out 20x200?
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:59 PM on June 20, 2010

I have a print of this antique photo which is personally significant to me (I lived near Riveaulx) on my wall and I love it. The Met has a handful of prints of historical black & white photographs for sale that might suit if you like that kind of thing.
posted by immlass at 9:20 PM on June 20, 2010

Best answer: (Note: I don't own this store or anything, it's the first thing in Google.) Polish movie posters. Wide variety of illustration/design styles. They stand on their own as poster art while also giving new interesting perspectives on familiar films. We have this one over our bed -- I love the poster. The film itself ... meh.
posted by macadamiaranch at 9:54 PM on June 20, 2010 [4 favorites]

sometimes you can pick up old saris at thrift stores, and they make wonderful wall hangings
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:09 PM on June 20, 2010

Searching for "Japanese scroll [insert thing here]" is a great way to get very cheap large-pieces-of-art-to-look-at on Ebay -- there are a few people who sell beautiful old handpainted scrolls starting at less than 15 bucks, including shipping. Yamane, Sakura Zipang, and WALK-ON are good sellers to check.
posted by vorfeed at 10:53 PM on June 20, 2010

If you like the look of vintage photography, try contacting your state's historical archives. I know that the Alaska State Historical Collections gives Alaskan citizens a certain number of high quality files for free that people can print for personal use. A very high resolution scan will probably have a fee attached to it but I doubt it would be much. Then print it however you like.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:22 AM on June 21, 2010

Best answer: Every weekend all October a different swathe of art studios in San Francisco open their doors to the public. A lot of artists will serve wine and cheese and nibbles. They are almost all there with their work and happy to talk to you. It's hugely popular and one of the most fun things to do in San Francisco in the Fall. You can shop on the Artspan site then go and visit the works in person. Here's a quick-and-dirty matching of some artists to your wishlist: And shoutouts to some personal friends: Salome Milstead, Carole R Moore and Heather Robinson. I have two oil paintings of Salome's that make me happy every time I look at them. I am still kicking myself for not buying Heather's We Want To Be Loved For Our Deepest Faults (bottom row, second from left) and Carole's Return.
posted by rdc at 3:01 AM on June 21, 2010

I strongly suggest both visiting galleries and going to art fairs. Art fairs in particular often have "emerging" or "local" (or in any case, "less expensive than those in galleries") artists.

Major art museums usually have some prints at the museum store that you can see in person before purchasing.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:17 AM on June 21, 2010

posted by massysett at 6:20 AM on June 21, 2010

Best answer: OMG Posters!
posted by quickasfoxes at 6:41 AM on June 21, 2010

I haven't done it yet myself, but something you see on saucydwellings-type communities online is people taking awesome wrapping paper or other non-art visual things and framing it nicely in stuff like painted wooden box frames etc. and hanging it. That's cheap and, if your paper's vintage and unusual, pretty unique. Works especially well in rooms with non-white walls.

On that tack, there's postcards and calendar pics of artwork otherwise impossible to find decent prints of affordably.

And campaign and movie posters, as mentioned--stuff like WPA artwork, Eastern European film posters, etc.

If you're big music fan, lots of indie bands have high quality artwork as merch. Throbbing Gristle's recent tour posters, some of Low's, Sigur Ros', stuff like that comes to mind. Gorgeous, and often one-of-a-kind lovingly printed limited edition stuff. If you snap it up on the tour it's often surprisingly cheap.

I know what you mean about the more awesomely out-there Whistler stuff--I've been spending ages trying to find a decent way to have prints of his more "three dimensional" paintings to no avail, alas.

Don't know if you like certain comics artists, but a lot of the up and coming ones like those in Flight (Catia Chien et al) often have personal websites where you can contact them to commission work. A friend of mine did that for her boyfriend last year as a gift; sent his favorite comics artist a photo of him from a recent cross country road trip they took and he made a print from that. Pretty great.
posted by ifjuly at 12:20 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

How about some oddball stuff. I really like these old recreated Bollywood movie posters - sold by an ice cream shop proprietor in Pakistan:

I have not ordered online, but have been to the store in person when I was in Pakistan. So I can at least say it is a legit business run by a guy with a passion for b-grade horror movies and old bollywood art.
posted by xufasch at 1:00 PM on June 21, 2010

Best answer: Stop by local art schools. While there...

...if you see work you like, put a note on it and ask the artist to contact you.
...put up flyers - tell students you are interested in original art and explain your price range and size requirements

I'd especially go to the photo department because I like photography and you can get some HUGE, really nice prints from the gigantic printers they have available.
posted by halfguard at 12:14 PM on June 22, 2010

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