One question I’m asked over and over again is, where do you find your amazing art? Lots of places I guess, and if it speaks to me, I buy it. but when you know where to find it, it’s easy to buy affordable original art for the home. In today’s post, I’m sharing all my tips and tricks on how I find killer artwork from vintage portraits to affordable abstract art to sculptures.
It’s pretty darn rare that I spend a lot of money on the art I procure, but every once in a while, I will plunk down some coinage. And hardly ever is it purchased with an exact wall in mind, nor am I looking for art at that particular moment. I guess in a way, art finds me.
Oddly enough, when I started the blog, I didn’t own much art. Most everything on the walls in the old house was photos of the kiddos. My art collection has been amassed over the last 3 years.
It began with a collection of vintage mug shots and these graffiti artist portraits shot by Lani Lee. These three guys were my first real purchase in the art world.
So what is it that I look for and where do I find it? Is there a sign that reads, “abstract art paintings for sale”? Ah, I wish. Here are a few of my shopping tips for affordable original art.
The main goal of an estate sale is to clear the home out in 3 days. Everything must go. If you’re looking for art at a fraction of the cost, be first in line, be persistent, or place a bid.
First in line is obvi, but what do I mean by persistence? Well, to start, if the piece is out of your price range, ask the best price. Are they firm? Would they consider an offer? If it’s still higher than your budget walk away and return 20 minutes later. If they notice your return, start small talk and tell them where you’re thinking of hanging it…now you’ve now made it personal.
If they’re attached to a piece, they know you’re going to hug it and love it and call it George. Sometimes the estate company has been told by the family the price is firm, but if it’s the final day of the sale, ask if they can run an offer or bid by the homeowner. Don’t completely lowball because that’s insulting and no one wants to sell to an asshole, so give them your lowest but fairest offer.
Here are a few of my favorite art purchases from estate sales.
When shopping at an estate sale, think outside the box and look in drawers and cabinets. These nudes were in a sketch pad, folded and tucked away in a cabinet. Displayed together, they have a very curated look and feel. Simple yet stunning.
While wandering around a complete stranger’s home, look for pieces large and small, and most importantly, if you think it might be something special, research the artist signature (when you get home…don’t be that person constantly looking up pricing).
The painting above was advertised on Facebook Marketplace. When I saw this abstract acrylic painting, my heart skipped a beat. I had no idea who the artist was, but the girl in her rocking chair drew me in and the color palette was incredible. She spoke to me, and what she said was drop everything you’re doing and come buy me. I emailed the family holding the sale and begged them to hold this piece until I could get there.
Once I got her home, I unloaded her from the truck, hung her and fell even more deeply in love. After flipping through pictures of the sale again, I returned the following day. There was another black and white piece that caught my eye…it had been hanging next to rocking chair girl, but I was too distracted by her beauty to notice this one…hmmmm, it had some damage, but my gut told me to buy it…even if I turn around and sold it…just buy it.
Most people think I spent a small fortune on these 2 pieces. Fact is, I spent more on the sketch pad of nudes than I did on the two paintings combined. The 2 abstract acrylic paintings were $75 for both…and I found a couple of months later, are by famed artist Gino Hollander.
When I visited LA a couple of months back, Erica took me to the PCC flea in Pasadena…Los Angeles, you are the Mecca for killer, inexpensive abstracts and portraits. Oh how I wish I lived closer.
We talked about how there’s a method when shopping a flea for paintings. First and foremost always look down…you may find it hiding, propped up against the leg of a folding table. Look in baskets and under other items like books or vases. Also, walk towards the back if you’re allowed. Many times you’ll find art propped up against the vendor’s car.
If there’s one piece you’re drawn to, there’s usually more. More often than not, buyers of art are drawn to the same style. Ask the vendor if they have additional works similar to what you’ve already found.
Look on the backside. Cash strapped art students use both the front and backside of the canvas. Sometimes the back is even more beautiful than the front.
Poke around outside the booth. Art is pretty much impossible to hang from a tent, so it might be hung outside the dealer’s booth. I walked past both of these pieces below and found them when I was leaving the booth. Keep your eyes peeled cuz you never know where you’ll find affordable original art.
Neither piece has been hung, but you better believe I bought them immediately.
Instagram is the stomping grounds for independent, up-and-coming, and incredibly talented artists. If you’re looking for affordable original art get on the prowl. See a piece you love on your Instagram feed? Is the artist tagged? Go find them. Seek out their gallery. A few of my favorites are:
If you like the artist, get slightly stalkerish. Look to see who they follow and read the comments. Artists tend to follow and support other artists.
Instagram is also the perfect source for vintage art as well. I found both La Commune General Store and 45 Three Modern Vintage on Insta and it’s like Christmas Day when a package arrives on my doorstep from these two lovely ladies.
See something you like in a photo and know they sell vintage? Ask them, hey, is this for sale. 9 times outta 10 they will DM you with a price and are willing to ship.
Etsy is full of one-of-a-kind pieces and overflowing with affordable original art that I’m constantly perusing. I have a running list of all my Etsy favorites here…and not just art…we’re talking vintage tees, mid-century pottery, jewelry…but a few of my favorite art shops are:
This is not an original — it’s a print — but it’s rad and only $26!
I’m also obsessing over BorianaM’s abstract art and Christina Ross’s continuous line art. What’s great about Etsy, is that once you start searching and favoriting, it learns your style and offers excellent suggestions.
Phew! Long haulers! You made it. Now, this is my most important question. Did I miss anything? Where do you find affordable original art?