We created a black and white artwork gallery wall in our dining room (see the makeover and inspiration here.) I’ve had a bunch of questions on how to source and frame art so I wanted to put together a little guide on how to do it without spending a million dollars. (FYI-I did a whole post here on how to hang it all without nails!) For this project I wanted to buy affordable-yet authentic smaller pieces. About a third of it I already owned but most of it I purchased during a 4 month period. I knew I wanted black and white art and I wanted it to feel grown up, not cutesy, and not take itself too seriously. See all the details below:
Here are my primary sources with direct links below:
1. Flea Market. This is my favorite place to find affordable artwork. Every time I go I buy at least one new piece for my collection. The art is usually between $15-$35 (occasionally I’ll pay more if I really love it) and the best part is it is usually already framed. Not just some boring frame either, usually they are beautiful old frames with character. I have this theory that even cheap prints look way better when they’ve aged 50 years. One time I saw this funny Einstein on a Bike print at the flea market. It was big and thought it would look cool in an office. It’s a common print you can buy off Amazon but when it was in an old frame from the 60’s it looked faded and had an authentic looking patina, and it was $10!
2. Thrift Stores. I don’t like Thrift Stores as much because to really score you have to spend a lot of time looking (like popping in a few times a week.) Spending a lot of time=Major Scores. I still get lucky every once in a while but it isn’t as efficient. When I’m searching the art section I keep an eye out for cool frames too. Sometimes the art is a terrible print but the frame looks great. (It’s easy to get new glass cut and a new mat cut for around $20 at a budget framing store.)
3. Directly from the Artist. If I’m a fan of an artist I usually contact them directly and ask what prints they have available. By cutting out the middle man we get a mutually beneficial deal. I’m obsessed with these photographs from Paris photographer Valerie Dray.
4. Etsy. I have a love hate relationship with Etsy. You have to comb through lots of things you don’t want before you find the gems. They are usually reasonable priced and usually shipped unframed.
5. Edited Online Artist Marketplaces like: Minted, 20×200. These are great because they edit down most of the art for you. They tend to be a little higher priced but there are some really great deals to be found.
6. Make Your Own: When I was looking for Art for this particular project I found an abstract sketch in my son’s room that I really loved and thought it would be nice on the wall. (it’s the oval blob shaped thing on the wall in the white frame.) He loves that I framed his art and I love that on a wall of fancy art there is a 4-year-old’s drawing.
Framing |This deserves its own post but I’ll focus on this gallery wall here. For a project like this framing gets expensive quick. Here is what I did:
-I used frames I already owned. A few of them were from college, I switched out the artwork and they worked perfectly.
-Cheap Frames. Most of the frames I bought from Target, Ikea and Aaron Brothers. I like the Target frames, I think Ikea ones have been hit or miss lately. Avoid the Ribba line as all of mine have fallen apart but the other lines are still fine. Aaron Brothers has a few sales throughout the year, I bought several during one of those sales. When I want the frame to be a step up from the budget options I usually use West Elm. The quality is really nice. (If I’m doing really fancy I have them custom framed.)
–Mat Cutter. I would not recommend this option if you aren’t framing a lot of things at once. It requires patience and a bit of perfectionism. It’s a $50 investment and takes FOREVER but we cut all our mats ourselves with this handy little system. Most framing stores will cut a mat for about $10 so it really doesn’t make sense unless you’ve got a lot of art to hang. I bought this 5 years ago and it has more than paid for itself. We buy large pieces of mat board at the art store for $4 and can usually get 3-4 mats out of each one.
-Other ways to frame. Here are a few other posts I’ve done on how to create art and frame it: How to Make Abstract Art, Potato Print Artwork, Painted Words As Art, Make Your Own Picture Frame, & Floating Art Frame.