Help me cover my white walls!
August 17, 2006 1:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for suggestions on art. I'm a 26 year old guy looking to decorate the walls of my apartment. Currently the only things hanging on my walls are a Frank LLoyd Wright's blueprint to the imperial palace and some various sumi-e prints. I do enjoy abstract art but I feel like I'm stuck in a rut and would like as many ideas and suggestions as I can get.
posted by wavering to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Is there any sort of specific color scheme you're looking for? What color is your furniture?
posted by brina at 1:27 PM on August 17, 2006

Have you seen We Heart Prints? It's given me so many ideas. It isn't even always the featured prints I like but often others I've found by following the gallery links under each one.
posted by routergirl at 1:27 PM on August 17, 2006 [4 favorites]

This is probably way out of left field (and possibly expensive as well), but I've always been a fan of Dan Flavin.
posted by chrominance at 1:30 PM on August 17, 2006

No thoughtful, angry young man's apartment is complete without some Egon Schiele, I say.
posted by saladin at 1:32 PM on August 17, 2006

With Rasterbator you can take any image you like and blow it up to as large as you like. Any random photograph or image suddenly becomes wall art!
posted by hermitosis at 1:32 PM on August 17, 2006

And the detail and fine lines in Shiele's drawings would go well with Wright and the Japanese prints, too. You could also get a nice big print of Demuth's Figure 5 in Gold, and a few Modiglianis.

If you are into the modern ironic illustrative stuff, go with the print blog suggested above. There's some really pretty stuff there, especially if you have a modern home with lots of 90 degree angles and low detail walls.
posted by luriete at 1:36 PM on August 17, 2006

Personally, maps.
posted by sohcahtoa at 1:38 PM on August 17, 2006

You asked, I'm a artist trying to rasie money for school (ack hm). Can check them their small and cheap.
posted by bleucube at 1:40 PM on August 17, 2006

The St Ives School - Terry Frost (e.g.), Patrick Heron (e.g.) and Barbara Hepworth (a sculptor but the prints are good). You should be able to get decent posters of all these online. The use of colour is amazing and will definitely get you out of an abstract rut.
posted by patricio at 1:55 PM on August 17, 2006

Do you have artistic friends? Throw a party, free booze and such, or else a really nice dinner party, but ask that instead of wine, people bring some small piece of artwork they've made. Also a good idea if your birthday is coming up. Even small sketches, when done by talented people, can look great when framed/grouped properly. (Especially if they have sentimental meaning, or if the person means something to you.) Also it's basically free, and a lot of artistic people have art that's lying around unused and unappreciated.

On that note, you could also check out this site, which is the best idea ever.
posted by np312 at 1:55 PM on August 17, 2006

I think it helps to do an inventory of your art interests at a more basic level, before you start collecting. For example, you say you "enjoy abstract art," but that's as useful a basis for making selections as saying you "enjoy eating" is to figuring out what to have for dinner, or what needs to go on the shopping list.

If you like abstract art, figure out what you like about it. Color, pattern, school, style, intellectual load, etc. I don't like abstract art, so I won't offer categorical suggestions. You do, so pursue the why of your likes a bit, to become more articulate about them, and learn about yourself. Learning about yourself is one of the big enjoyments of enjoying art.

I do like representational art, and particularly, I like representations of female figures. Over thirty years, I've assembled a small collection of paintings, photographs, and lithographs which are held together by being good representations of female figures. By choice, none are nudes. By choice, none are traditional portraits. By choice, none are pregnant forms. By choice, none are children, or very young women. But in every room of my home, beautiful women are represented well, and often lovingly.

Having a specific focus can help you collect, and can help you make decisions about what you should buy, or not. Go for good originals, when you can, but don't buy for investment, unless you can afford to hire reputable people to advise you, and plunk down serious money over time.
posted by paulsc at 1:55 PM on August 17, 2006

- I second We heart Prints - awesome stuff at reasonable prices.
- A lot of illustrators showcased at also sell prints and originals
- A friend of mine has a huge collection of concert posters and he puts them in frames on constant rotation. It's like coming to a different apartment every time.
- Endless array of illustration and photograph prints at
- Depending on where you live, there may be small art exhibitions. Check newspapers in local coffee shops and art stores.

As an aside to bleucube, have you though about limiting how many of your paintings you show at one time on your website? Speaking as a viewer, when I see that much art all at once, I get overwhelmed. Try out grouping your paintings by non-exclusive categories and selling just a few groups at a time.
posted by junesix at 1:56 PM on August 17, 2006

Museum gift shops usually have nice posters and prints, often reproductions of art in their collection. Any museums in your area? Or look online at major museums' websites.

For fairly inexpensive prints or original art, try Etsy, especially if your taste runs to the funky. (Which it may not, judging from what you already have. But hey, you wanted to get out of your tasteful rut, right?)
posted by Quietgal at 1:58 PM on August 17, 2006

iso50 (if you like the retro-looking vector gig poster-ish illustration style)
posted by junesix at 2:13 PM on August 17, 2006

how about duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase

or maybe a nice charles demuth print, like my egypt or lancaster buildings
posted by milarepa at 2:14 PM on August 17, 2006

If you're making some kind of halfway-decent reliable money buying actual pieces of art beats the poster thing pretty handily. (I wish I did a lot more of this!) Look for prints, lithographs, etchings, etc. at the low end price-wise, or keep your eyes open at non-gallery spaces. Most of what shows up at non-gallerys (restaurants, coffee shops) is not very good, of course, but if you find something that catches your eye and it costs $200-300 that's not a bad way to go. I wouldn't tend to purchase original art over the internet, though. Jpegs are a poor substitute for looking at an actual piece.
posted by furiousthought at 2:22 PM on August 17, 2006

i like things that aren't things in frames. one of my favorite decorations is a huge carnival mask made of hammered tin. go three-dimensional, bring it off your walls and into your space!
posted by sonofslim at 2:38 PM on August 17, 2006

I don't have them myself but I've always wanted a set of Blik decals. I particulary like the Fly style.
posted by Famous at 2:41 PM on August 17, 2006

I would second the investment in paintings by up and coming artists, it will create a much more vibrant room, great conversation starters (nudge nudge, wink wink) and so forth.

In terms of "established" artistssome paintings translate better than others to prints. You don't see too many Jackson Pollack prints (although I'm sure they exist) because they loose much of their power.

For abstraction, artists like Paul Klee and Stuart Davis often used flat or textured color that translates well to reproduction.

Also, looking for classic graphic design posters might be a better bet because these were originally intended to be posters not paintings. And you might learn some graphic design history too!

So a poster by the Stenberg Brothers or A.M. Cassandre might fit the bill depending on your taste.
posted by jeremias at 3:06 PM on August 17, 2006

(a) get on ebay and pick yourself up some cheap black-velvet paintings of nudes, or bruce lee, or something else slightly tacky but conversation-worthy, and therefore smothered with hipster-ness.


(b) if that's not your bag, try out something like allposters for just about any modern art in affordable printed form. that and a trip to ikea for some decent large frames, and you're walls might end up being nicely adorned.
posted by garfy3 at 3:24 PM on August 17, 2006

I just wanted to point out that I got some decent large frames at Ikea, only to find that nothing I had fit inside them because the frames were in nice round centimeter proportions while all my posters were in nice round inch proportions. Whoops.
posted by stopgap at 3:45 PM on August 17, 2006

I think you're approaching the problem backwards. Instead of wondering what you can find to fill your walls, you need to find some art that the you enjoy looking at, then put it on the walls. Don't buy art to match your wall colour or furniture, it will blend in, and you won't notice it and get pleasure from it in the right way. Just frame it in a neutral if its vastly different from your walls or furniture.

Half the fun of art is finding the stuff you like, like tracking down a rare and personal treasure amongst all the other stuff. Spend some time looking for the pieces that you find enjoyable or interesting. Don't worry about whether its cool, cheap or expensive, a print vs an original vs a photograph. Go visit your local art galleries and museums. If you see something you like at the museum, buy a print of it from the shop. If you see something affordable you like at the gallery, buy it. Also keep your eyes peeled for craft shows, there are often affordable artists and photographers exhibiting and selling there too.
posted by Joh at 4:00 PM on August 17, 2006

I'll second maps. But I'm a map geek.

The great thing about maps is that they can be both attractive AND functional if you have an interest in some particular region of the world. And, of course, a standard world map showing political boundaries always comes in handy when some place you've never heard of is mentioned in the news and curiosity gets the best of you.

From a pure aesthetic standpoint, however, old maps are the way to go. An old map you picked up for a buck at a flea market can look like a rare collectible if presented correctly. When I was in college, I was working on a project in the cartography lab, and decided to go for a short walk to clear my mind. On my way out the door, I stumbled upon a recycling bin full of of old USGS quad maps. Someone was cleaning out the map library, I suppose. I decided to appropriate the maps for myself and, upon arriving home and thumbing through the stash, was surprised to find many dating from before World War I. I even have one of San Francisco from before the 1906 earthquake.

The thing is, people throw these sort of maps out all the time. Hit up a flea market, library sale, or garage sale, and you might luck out. Provided they're in decent condition, they look pretty classy when framed.

Otherwise... given that you have some Sumi-e prints, I assume you're in to East Asian art (join the club). If there's any sort of Japanese-themed tourist spot in town (like a Japanese garden), stop by the gift shop and see if they're selling cheap paper wall scrolls. I'm a "cover the walls" sort of person, so I like to use these in narrow and awkward spaces that aren't large enough for anything of consequence... like between a door and a window. They're also good for filling the gaps between larger pieces.
posted by jal0021 at 4:02 PM on August 17, 2006

Oh, and to provide an example of the wall scroll idea: Here's my office at home. Note the wall scroll in the corner. It was something like $5, I think.
posted by jal0021 at 4:08 PM on August 17, 2006

Try Hough Waves. Not cheap, but looks pretty cool in my opinion.
posted by blister at 5:23 PM on August 17, 2006

Don't go for posters, unless you want a total poster thing. Never frame them. Posters = blutak. Buy prints by all means, but buy editions, made by artists, not the photocopies you find in museum shops (they're posters, and nasty ones at that). Go for paintings - find out when your nearest art college has a degree show, go along, buy what you like, and keep in touch with the artist.
posted by einekleine at 5:57 PM on August 17, 2006

Claude Theberge; I especially like the Novembre print.
posted by JDC8 at 7:04 PM on August 17, 2006

not to derail, but that hough waves site is kind of neat. the images are accumulator arrays generated by a hough transform which is used in image-recognition software to extract shapes from images. i wonder what images they used to generate those prints. hmmm.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 7:38 PM on August 17, 2006

eBay Art.


I found my favorite artist ever, Sorsdahl, there. Of course, I ended up buying $20 prints on some generic poster site, but I've found that it's a good way to look at all sorts of art. If you don't mind sifting through some crap. (But I guess that's the case with any art place?)
posted by fogster at 9:51 PM on August 17, 2006

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