The Unpretentious Guide to Affordable Art Shopping and Styling
Buying a new piece of art is a “made it!” moment that really makes you feel like a responsible adult. Art is an investment in the traditional sense, and having it in your home also pays off through all the joy it brings your space every day. However, shopping for “professional” art and figuring out how to style it is one of the more complicated aspects of DIY design. Your room’s color palette, its layout, and of course your personal tastes all come into play, and then there’s the intimidating question of where to even start shopping, especially if you’re on a budget.
Luckily, we live in a world where great art is more accessible than ever. Artsper, a startup representing over 25,000 new and established artists — Picasso, Dalí, and Keith Haring, just to name a few — is proof that fine art is for everyone. They work with 1,800 galleries worldwide to offer over 170,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, photos, and prints at prices as low as $50, making them one of our favorite sources for original, affordable art.
To help give you some ideas of what to look for and how to incorporate it in your space, we put together a quick guide of the top things to consider when shopping for and styling art. Let’s get started!
What’s your budget?
You don’t need deep pockets to start collecting art, but just like any other purchase for your home, it makes sense to decide on a reasonable budget before you start shopping. Believe it or not, $100 is plenty, especially for fine art prints, photography, or drawings, like this colorful one from French artist, Tarek.
Also, think about whether you’re mostly interested in simply enjoying art or treating it as an investment that will appreciate in value over time. If it’s the latter, take some time to research artists’ careers and browse the marketplace for works in the same medium and style. But either way, always buy what you love! For a brief overview on art pricing, check out Artsper’s guide.
How much space are you working with?
“Measure twice, cut once” is just as applicable when buying art as it is when hanging wallpaper. For wall art, it’s always helpful to use painter’s tape to mock up the size of a painting, photo, or drawing before you buy it. It only takes about a minute to do but it will give you an immediate sense of scale before you buy, which is especially helpful when you’re purchasing art online.
Looking around your home to identify blank spaces or areas that feel under-decorated can also help give you an idea of where you want to add art and how what your size constraints are. If your living room feels full, hallways, stairways, and entry ways are all good places to start branching out.
If you’re working with limited wall space, or none at all, consider investing in a sculpture that can add a pop of color or some visual texture to a bookshelf, desk, or tabletop. Artsper has unique sculptures in lots of sizes to suit your space and many are surprisingly affordable.
Deciding which medium (painting, sculpture, photography, etc.) to look for can help narrow down the choices if you’re new to the fine art market and it all just feels overwhelming. It’s also helpful to consider when styling art. For instance, if you’re creating a gallery wall, you may want to mix paintings and prints with photos, although keeping everything the same medium is another fine way to go. And if you don’t have wall space, remember that shelves can hold both small sculptures and flat artwork in standing frames.
Keep in mind that certain works, such as paintings, should never be hung in areas that get direct sunlight for most of the day. Prints, on the other hand, can be framed with UV-blocking glass. For more info on proper handling techniques, Artsper offers a collector’s guide alongside their many great print options from renowned artists such as Takashi Murakami.
Deciding on a color palette that will fit in with your existing decor is also an excellent way to narrow down the choices if you feel like there’s just too much art to choose from. The great thing about Artsper is you can search by color, so whether you’re looking for a bright pop of red to energize your living room or something a little more neutral and calming for your bedroom, it’s easy to find.
If you’re starting with a blank or neutral slate (i.e., an empty room), finding a work of art you love can be a great way to establish a color palette for your space and help you decide on colors for upholstery, furniture, or bedding. Art can be an especially interesting (and easy!) way to add color to your home if painting the walls was never an option.
And if you happen to own (or have access to) a printer, printing out 8.5 x 11″ versions of pieces and temporarily taping them to your wall can offer more clarity if you’re having trouble deciding between pieces or just really need to know how the colors will look in your space.
What’s your style?
When you browse art at a museum or see it in your daily life, what grabs your attention? It can be helpful to snap pictures on your phone or keep a desktop folder of your favorite works so you can look up the artists online and learn about the art movements they’re associated with. There are plenty of contemporary and up-and-coming artists who create works that pay homage to other big artists from the past and present. So if you’re a fan of Banksy, for instance, you can find your next favorite street artist on Artsper.
But at the end of the day, if you trust your gut and buy what you like (whether it’s familiar or not) you can’t go wrong. If you have specific questions or want more personalized advice, chat with one of Artsper’s art advisors for free. They’re happy to help you find what works for you!