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How to Buy Original Art & Paintings on a Budget

By Christy Rakoczy

artworkWhen it comes to using art as decor in your home, you have a number of choices. You can hang prints or posters, which are essentially photographs of famous works of art. You can hang reproductions, which are simply paintings that have been reproduced, usually by screen-printing. Or, you can hang original, one-of-a-kind pieces of art on your walls.

Original art can give your walls added depth and character, and can be a far more special choice than any print or reproduction. And fortunately, original art doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Finding Original Art Online

If you are looking for original art, the Internet is a great place to start your search. Original art is available both on general purpose auction and classified websites like eBay and Craigslist, but there are also specialized sites as well that connect emerging artists with consumers.

Some great sites to visit to find originals include:

  • Etsy offers both vintage items and new art pieces made by artists around the world. You can narrow your search by paintings, photographs, sculptures, collages, and mixed media (among other categories), and then further narrow down your choices by subject matter and painting technique used. For example, you can search specifically for oil paintings or still lifes. See our Etsy Review for more information.
  • 20×200 is a curated collection of paintings, prints, and photographs. You can shop by category, price, color, or size. The art created and sold on the site is exclusively made for 20×200, and you receive a certificate of authenticity with any piece that you purchase.
  • ShopSCAD offers fine art as well as jewelry and other offerings. You can browse by category here as well, choosing drawings, paintings, photographs, prints, and sculptures, among other categories. You can also read biographies of the artists whose work you are purchasing. Prices vary considerably among the different pieces on this site, but there are plenty of affordable offerings.
  • Thumbtack Press offers original art starting at $19.99. You can search by color, artist, genre, size, and subject, and you can also sign up for the newsletter to regularly receive information on new artists or special promotions. This site makes buying art especially easy since you can choose to purchase a print, a framed print, or a stretched canvas. Since framing can be very expensive, having this option available is a major benefit.
  • Housing Works is an auction site that helps to raise money for people afflicted with HIV and AIDS. There is a great deal of artwork available for auction through the site at varying prices. Some of the artwork is sold for pickup only, so the site works best for those in Manhattan. However, other pieces can be shipped – if you’re not local, make sure any pieces you’re interested in can be shipped.

By visiting these sites, you are likely to discover a number of new favorite artists, many of whom have their own websites you can visit to keep up-to-date on their latest projects. This is an excellent way to purchase new works before others have a chance. You may also be able to find small galleries that represent your favorite artists that offer pieces at great prices.

you may discover new artists by shopping locally or online

Shopping Locally for Affordable Art

While the Internet is a great resource, some people like to see art in person before they commit. There are a number of places you can go to shop locally for affordable artwork:

  • Local Art Schools. Art schools often have exhibits where students display and sell their work.
  • Thrift Stores. Thrift stores, such as Goodwill, often have many hidden gems. You can also shop Goodwill on the Internet at shopgoodwill.com for a broader selection. If you see a painting you like but aren’t thrilled with the frame (or vice versa), just remember you can always swap it out.
  • Estate Sales and Garage Sales. While prices are often cheaper at garage sales, estate sales may have a bigger selection of artwork since they tend to be held when people die or are moving, rather than just when people want to get rid of old stuff.
  • Art Festivals and Fairs. Local artists often exhibit and sell their work at art fairs in an attempt to become known to a new customer base.
  • Independent Coffee Shops. Independent coffee shops often display the work of local artists, especially up-and-comers, and typically the work is for sale. Plus, if you see the same piece displayed for months, you may be better able to negotiate a cheaper price by getting directly in touch with the artist.

Final Word

Finding good art, either online or locally, can take time – but the hunt is part of the fun. Savor the process of looking at beautiful pieces, and remember to listen to your heart when buying art so you put pieces on your wall that really speak to you. There’s always the chance that one or more of your signed pieces may increase in value as well. Either way, the joy of developing an extensive collection over a number of years can’t be missed.

Do you have original art in your home? If so, where did you find it?

Christy Rakoczy
Christy Rakoczy earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester and her Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of Law. She is currently a full-time writer who writes both textbooks and web content related to personal finance and the law. She and her husband and two dogs split their time between Florida and Pennsylvania.

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  • http://twitter.com/igottigerblood_ D D

    Thanks for the article Christy!

    I personally have shopped at http://www.etsy.com but some of their prices are a bit expensive. I did like some unique pieces they had though.

    Another one I think should be listed above http://www.canvaspaintings.com has been pretty reliable for me. I mainly buy from them due to quality and selection of paintings.

    I hate prints!

  • Mlewis

    Christy,
    I started buying original Western paintings and sculpture 30 years ago just because I like it. I continue to have most of it and plan to pass the various pieces to my children. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that it has increased significantly in value as the artists have either become more more popular, died, or both.
    The only bad thing about art as an investment is the length of time to sell it, particularly as it increases in value. I agree with your sentiment – buy what you like and what speaks to you – it you make a profit down the road, that’s a bonus.

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