Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Buying Art

I love art. I spent most of my childhood creating it, a good bit of college studying it, and today, I enjoy buying it. Like many art lovers, my greatest roadblock to amassing an amazing collection is, of course, money (or the lack of it). Even smaller pieces by lesser known artists can cost thousands of dollars and for better known/more popular artists? -- unless your last name is Trump or Rockefeller, forget it. You're pretty much resigned to mass produced poster prints sold in your local fine arts museum. As a result, many of us decorate our homes with these reproduction prints, stock art or metalwork "wall decor" found at Bed, Bath and Beyonds across the country. Sure, it's easy and affordable, but it's so impersonal and so, so boring. Sometimes I feel like if I see another piece of scrolling metalwork-cum-candle holder or reproduction poster print of an art nouveau French advertisement on a friend's wall I am going to lose my mind. So let's try for something completely different, shall we? As e-commerce has grown, so has the opportunity for purchasing originals and limited edition prints from lesser (or virtually unknown) artists. What follows are my three favorite websites for art shopping online.

1. Etsy. Etsy is the mother lode of independent arts and crafts. While quite a bit of it skews towards the cutesy or granola, it's still a treasure trove of original art work. What's more, the vast majority of art on Etsy is extremely affordable (i.e., under $50) and while many of the pieces found there are smaller in scale, the price makes it easy to pick up two or three (or four) of your favorites that could easily be arranged together to make an impressive display. Some of my favorite artists include:

If you're looking for something even more personal, I'd suggest having silhouettes done of your family (or even your dog). MissCrowland creates custom silhouette based on a profile photo you send her. The silhouette arrives as a .pdf and can be used in any number of projects. I actually had a silhouette of my dog made (with antlers) and used it for my Christmas cards this year. Also, if you're looking for the ubiquitous "Keep Calm" posters, you can find them in an array of sizes and colors courtesy of SFGirlbytheBay.

2. UGallery. UGallery is an online store dedicated to selling the work of art students across the country. I particularly like their search engines which allow you to browse by cost, size, medium, color and even the school the artist attends (just in case you want to support your alma mater, I suppose). The art on UGallery tends to be more expensive than the art on Etsy, but I think it's generally a better quality (and again, you're supporting art students) and you can often choose from a range of sizes for any particular work to suite your needs. I am particularly found of the work of these two photographers:

Sarah Diaz

3. Wall Blank. Wall Blank differs from the other two sites in that it offers only one limited edition print every weekday. Once offered, the prints remain available for a week, unless they sell out earlier. While the selection is more limited (and a bit random), the prices on here are fantastic: Most of the prints cost under $25 and the proceeds from prints made available each Friday go to a charity designated by the artist. This is the kind of site I would get on the e-mail list for just to see what's available at any given time -- otherwise, you'll never know if there's something that strikes your fancy (besides, if you're on the e-mail list you'll automatically be entered to win a print in a weekly drawing they have). By way of illustration, I purchased the following print a few weeks ago for my bathroom (it's pretty neat in person actually and I've chosen to display it vertically rather than horizontally as it is shown here):

Obviously, art is a very subjective thing and what I find beautiful or interesting may not exactly tickle your fancy. In fact, it's pretty clear from the selection I've made here that I'm currently into photography (especially landscape photography) and what I suppose could be described as gothic surrealism. That being said, there are many, many more artists on all three sites who produce vastly different work in a variety of mediums (photography, collage, painting, drawing, etc.) so I encourage you to poke around yourself on each of these sites and see if you come up with something you love. If you find anything great, be sure to let me know.


Miss Crowland said...

Thanks for for the mention! You should send me some pics of your Christmas cards, I would love to see how they turned out.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the plug for my photography on UGallery! Glad you like my work...


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