Wall Art for a Super Picky Art Snob
December 18, 2016 2:38 PM   Subscribe

I just moved into a small apartment. I have a real minimalism vibe going on. Contempary/modern. The walls are extremely bare. I need some art to spruce up the walls. I am super picky, and perusing Pier 1 and Home Goods isn’t cutting it. Way too generic

Here’s the thing…..I’m super picky. Aesthetically I’m looking for stuff that cool and artsy and maybe stuff that is a little edgy/dark/twisted but not too crazy. I like a lot of black & white fetish photography and such but would like to have it be “acceptable” when I have company.

I like bands like Godspeed you Black Emperor, directors like David Fincher and authors like Cormac McCarthy just to give you an idea.

Ideally I’d like stuff that is either abstract or photography (ideally black and white). I like graffiti and urban ruin type stuff too.

I’d like to find some stuff that is cohesive and ideally inexpensive/affordable. I cannot spend 500 on each piece.

I’ll take suggestions for either that artists fit what I’m looking for or websites or places that I can get stuff. I have a lot of galleries near me in NY, but they are WAY out of my budget.

Here is a couple of links to the type of stuff that I like

I don’t know if there is a way to print some of that stuff affordably

Thanks a bunch in advance
posted by kbbbo to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Definitely poke around etsy for things you might like. Warning - do not go into this task unprepared; you may very well end up in a time sucking hole of wistfulness.
posted by cgg at 2:51 PM on December 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

For the part of my aesthetic that has partial overlap with yours, I browsed NASA's Image Library for creepycool hi-res images of the surface of the moon, and had them printed on a large-format printer. My local print shop quoted me $61 for a 42"x42" print on matte paper, but in the end 36" was more than enough.
posted by xueexueg at 4:25 PM on December 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

I was thinking etsy to begin with, but if you're willing to spend up to $500 a piece, you can absolutely afford original art, especially if you look at printmaking. Off the top of my head you might like Justine Ditto, who I found by going to a local art school's annual student print sale. They also have a student show at the end of the year, which I think is pretty common, so you could check whatever schools are near you. Prints (lithography, etching, monoprints, etc, I don't mean reproductions) can be really affordable, even ones by well known artists.
posted by sepviva at 4:44 PM on December 18, 2016

Response by poster: OP here. That was a typo. I CANNOT afford $500 a piece

posted by kbbbo at 4:52 PM on December 18, 2016

I don't know the name for it, but that vaguely spooky post-apocalyptic urban fantasy aesthetic with a muted palette is super super popular on places like etsy and society 6. If you create an account on Etsy and favorite enough things, it will start recommending you stuff, I assume society 6 has a similar feature. You can just buy the print in the size you want, then frame and mat it yourself, probably for $150 a pop if you splash out on the framing but still assemble it yourself. Are you not really that into any of the pieces you linked that you would want to buy them, or is it really important to you that it be original, or you were just trying to show the style you liked?

I'm not impugning your taste or anything; that style is popular because it's cool, but I think it's a waste to spend $500 when there are many more affordable options if you shift where you are looking.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 4:56 PM on December 18, 2016

Have you looked on Overstock.com? They sell prints, canvas art, and framed stuff all for really reasonable prices! They have pretty much any style you could think of, despite their generic name.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 6:17 PM on December 18, 2016

Following up on xueexueg's idea, engineering prints are big, cheap, and decent looking b/w images for the price. NASA and other government agencies worldwide (like Library of Congress) have all sorts of images in the public domain that you can choose from.
posted by veery at 6:24 PM on December 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

Sounds like you maybe want Mapplethorpe or Man Ray. Both work mostly in black and white, have some abstract still lifes as well as fetish-y stuff. Both famous enough you can pretty cheap reprints, or buy a used copy of one of their catalogue books and bust out the exacto.
posted by Diablevert at 7:11 PM on December 18, 2016

You are actually not a snob if you are looking in those places, your are actually being generic and kind of cheap (sorry!). Are you looking for art that has meaning/value to you, or just fits a visual paradigm?

If you like fetish photography, go to some local fetish artists you like and see the their more mainstream work. If you only care about the visuals, just find work that you can legally download and print out.
posted by Vaike at 8:04 PM on December 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Those Society6 prints you linked to are $20 unframed. I get that $500 is too much, but if $20 is also too much, I'm not sure where to send you other than a secondhand shop. Brooklyn has some great ones, though! I've found large blown-up B&W photos there for like $10.

I don’t know if there is a way to print some of that stuff affordably

If you can find large enough images to print legally / ethically, you could print at home, but keep in mid that without archival paper and ink, the colors are going to fade pretty quick.

I guess I'm a bit confused -- are you looking for really big prints that are inexpensive? Because you can get tapestries of most things on Society6 for $60-80. I have one and the print quality is excellent.
posted by ananci at 10:38 PM on December 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Fixed typo in post: "can" to "cannot" spend ...
posted by taz (staff) at 5:30 AM on December 19, 2016

Yeah, not sure why you don't just buy the things you linked to? Add a cheap frame from Michael's (they go on sale all the time) and you're good to go.

If you buy all your art at once, in order to fill up space, though, it's going to look like you bought all your art at once, in order to fill up space. This might be a problem that can be solved with a big budget and impeccable taste (I wouldn't know; I have neither) but basically building a good art collection is going to take time.

Buy some filler pieces for now (cheap posters, whatever), and try to keep your art proportional to the wall it's on (don't put one 8x10 frame on a huge empty wall - better to leave the wall empty to do some kind of washi-tape pattern and put the 8x10 on the tiny wall next to the door or something). Your art collection will grow and evolve with time.
posted by mskyle at 6:25 AM on December 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

20 x 200 has a very wide variety of "real" art that's pretty affordable and interesting
posted by exceptinsects at 9:24 AM on December 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

I don't think you're generic or cheap. You like a style of art that is more popular and accessible than you realized. That's actually a good thing, because it means you have more available to choose from. If you can update with your budget per piece, we can give you a better idea of strategies to get the look you want, and the quality you can expect at a particular price point . Or you can ask another general question next week for "My budget is X, how do I get look Y?"

I "styled" my house in cheap framed art this year, and I don't care if it's generic and cheap to someone else. I loved it and it made me happy. And I'm dying to share my "expertise."
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:48 PM on December 19, 2016

Have you tried any art fairs or street fairs?

I'm not super picky, and get excited by all kinds of art so I'm not the best judge but we have some street fairs in my city that are kinda pedestrian but we also have much cooler ones with only local artists. I'm always itching to buy originals and prints at the cool local fairs, but I'm running out of wall space.
posted by Squeak Attack at 3:55 PM on December 19, 2016

I saw your update but wouldn't really change my advice, you can still find stuff for good prices. I think the most expensive piece I got at the last art sale I went to was a poster-sized litho from the artist I linked for $60, and I picked up a bunch of smaller prints for $10 and $20. Not everything is that affordable, but plenty is.
posted by sepviva at 5:08 PM on December 19, 2016

Have you thought of creating and framing your own? Take some favorite photographs, play around with some apps and then go to any drugstore and print them in a variety of sizes. Voila! Custom art.
posted by Jandoe at 8:35 PM on December 20, 2016

Nth-ing 20x200. Some cool affordable options there.
posted by buzzkillington at 6:58 PM on December 25, 2016

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