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How and Where to Buy Contemporary Fine Art (Prints & Paintings) Online on a Budget

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If you’re anything like me, you’re sick and tired of browsing through those gigantic art posters at places like Target and Michaels. Sure, Klimt’s “The Kiss” and Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” are great works of art. But it’d be great to have something unique to frugally decorate your home with, right?

I love art, but I’d never walk into a gallery and buy a work of art because the prices are so inflated. Most of the time, the gallery gets at least 40% of whatever the art costs. And museum stores often take 50% or more. So you’re always going to pay way more than you have to at these places.

Great art doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, in many cases, it doesn’t have to cost anything at all. You just have to know where to look! Here are 4 places where I’ve had good success getting some nice prints and paintings.

1. The Feed Your Soul Project

Feed Your Soul is a free art project started by blogger Jen Wallace, an art-lover who wanted to combat the grim atmosphere of the recession by putting out something positive. This something positive turned out to be really great, free art that anyone can download and print.

There is some incredible art available for download through Feed Your Soul, all of which has been donated by artists handpicked by Jen. Most images print 8×10. Printed on good paper, and framed, the work looks incredible. I have some hanging in my office!

And again, all the work on the site is 100% free.

2. The Fine Art Adoption Network

Did you know that you can adopt a work of art?

Yep, it’s possible through the Fine Art Adoption Network (FAAN). The goal of FAAN is simple: they want to put more artwork into the hands of real people and deserving institutions. Great art should not be reserved for the wealthy, and FAAN helps get a diverse collection of paintings, sculptures, and photographs into everyday people’s homes.

The art available through FAAN is incredible. Many of the artists on the site already sell their work in galleries, and many have pieces hanging in museums. Yet, they’ve donated pieces to FAAN to help spread art in the world and communicate with people in new ways. I love this.

Adopting a piece of art through FAAN is completely free. You just have to pay for transportation or shipping costs.

Keep in mind, you’re not guaranteed a piece. You must submit a questionnairre to the artist, explaining why you want to adopt that particular piece. It’s up to the artist to choose a permanent home for his or her work.

3. Scour Etsy

Many of my favorite pieces of artwork have come from Etsy, an online marketplace for artists. Etsy is a wonderful place to find amazing, cheap artwork. The site is huge, and they only take a small percentage of each sale by an artist. This means that artists pay less to list their work on the site, so more participate.

All the art I’ve bought from Etsy has been $25 or less. And, they’re some of my most eclectic pieces!

4. Do It Yourself

Think you can’t paint, draw, or play with clay?

Some of the world’s best art has been created by artists who kept their childlike sense of wonder and willingness to explore lines and colors without feeling it has to “look perfect.” After all, would Picasso have been as famous if he’d always stayed inside the lines and followed the rules? I doubt it.

If you want some great art on a budget, why not try it out as a do it yourself project? I do this all the time. Creating art is relaxing, and it’s a very cheap way to have a good time. Let go of the idea that it has to look like a masterpiece. Instead, embrace the idea that imperfect art is often the most beautiful. Just have fun with it!

Also, keep in mind that creating your own art is a wonderful unique and frugal gift idea.

Do any of you know of some great places to get great art on a budget (or even for free)?

(photo credit: Jill Brown Lovie)

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a writer with over 15 years experience covering personal finance, natural health, parenting, and green living. She lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with her husband and two young sons, where they're often wandering on frequent picnics to find feathers and wildflowers.

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