When it comes to decorating your walls, there are so many options. You can make your own art; frame cards, magazine tear-outs, or calendar pages; you can hang photographs; buy inexpensive prints; or hang three-dimensional objects. I have examples of all of these throughout our house and I love them. As my house has gotten more “done,” though, I’ve started getting more interested in collecting artwork. Our walls are full enough that we don’t have any glaringly empty spaces, which gives me the luxury of taking the time to really seek out things that make my heart sing. I started wondering-where do you get started when you’re interested in finding artists you love?
I want to take a moment to address the inherent luxury in collecting artwork. I know I am incredibly blessed to even have the opportunity to think about something like this. I also know the idea of buying artwork may sound astronomically expensive. Depending on the artist, it can be. What I’m hoping this post can help with, however, is finding ways to build a unique art collection that is within your budget comfort level. When I talk about building an art collection, that also includes prints. I don’t think you have to have the original work to get a lot of joy out of a piece of art, and buying a print is a cost effective way to build your collection. I’m also hoping to help spark ideas for finding artists who are just starting out their careers. Up and coming artists usually don’t charge as much for their work, so you can get a great piece for a price within your budget, AND you get to support a creator from early on. I think one of the most exciting things about art is getting to follow artists in their journey.
Now that we’ve gotten introductions out of the way, here are my tips for finding unique artists you love and building your collection of artwork and prints:
- Ask your network if they have any artists they follow. You probably have at least one friend or coworker who is super creative and/or into art. Find that person, and ask them what they’d recommend. Part of the fun of following artists is sharing their work with other people, so that person will probably be really excited to talk to you about the things they love. Look for the musician, the writer, the photographer, or the DIYer. There’s a good chance they have someone in their circle they could recommend you check out.
- Keep an eye/ear out for any coworkers you may have who make art as a side hustle. This is especially applicable if you work in a creative field. I work in advertising/marketing, and there has always been at least one person I work with who paints in their spare time. Even if you work in a more analytical field, there may still be someone you work with who uses art as a creative outlet, or whose partner is an artist. I have several paintings that were made by a former coworker, and I absolutely love them.
- Look for art events in your area. In Austin, we have an event (actually two events) every year where artists open their studios to the public, and you can visit as many or as few as you want. They’re called the East and West Austin studio tours. We also have a local art show called RAW that showcases independent artists. I would recommend looking for events like this in your hometown.
- Pay attention to what’s on the walls in restaurants, coffee shops, and small businesses in your area. A lot of local businesses will showcase local artists, so this is a great way to find something new, especially if you’re waiting in line!
- If you have an artist you follow, check out the other artists they mention on their social media channels. Sometimes artists will share studio space, or have other artists they’re friends with, so this might give you someone new to look into.
- Check home decor books or catalogs for home decor brands that fit your style. If they’re using an artists’ work when they’re styling their book or catalog, they’ll probably highlight it. I have one artist, Teil Duncan, who I found either through a feature in an AnthroLiving catalog or from one of my interior design books. I can’t remember which at this point. This is a situation where buying a print might be the more budget friendly option because if an artist is featured in a large brand’s styling, they’re probably reasonably well established in their career.
- If you’re looking to just browse and get ideas, my favorite place to shop for art online is Saatchi Art. They have a huge range of work across many different media from artists around the world. You can filter by medium, style, subject, price, and a bunch of other elements. A lot of their artists also offer prints of their original works as well.
In case it helps you get started, here are my favorite artists that I’m following:
- Arielle Austin (local to Austin, TX)
- Tyler Guinn (local to Austin, TX)
- Teil Duncan
- Gray Malin
- Thomas Gromas (definitely aspirational, but I love his word sculptures!)
Let me finish with one last note about framing. It’s tempting to buy a cheap frame from Target or a craft store to fit your new finds. I know that feel, and for some things I do buy inexpensive frames, like if the thing I’m framing is a photo I took myself and can easily make copies of or if the print is widely and inexpensively available. If you’re investing in a nice print from somewhere like Saatchi Art, though, or if you’ve bought an original piece of artwork, I would strongly recommend spending the time and money to put it a high quality frame. I usually have my artworks framed at Michael’s and wait until they have one of their 70% of framing deals. The main benefit of the more expensive framing options is they help protect and preserve your artwork from yellowing or fading over time. Most off-the-shelf frames have paper mats, and the paper has naturally-occurring acids in it which over time will yellow your artwork. Professional framing services also offer UV protecting glass, which helps ensure sunlight doesn’t fade your artwork over time. Finally, when I have things framed, I have the framer use a glare-resistant glass so the work shows up better, especially in rooms that get a lot of natural light (think about what it’s like watching your TV during the day with sun shining through the window).
Where are you in your journey of building your art collection? Do you have any recommendations for creators we should check out? One of the most joyful things I’ve found in finding artists I love is helping other people discover them too. We’d love to hear from you in the comments below or on social media! You can also subscribe to our email newsletter for a weekly update on our new posts.