Don't Think You Can Afford Art? Think Again.
I get it, spending 200, 500 or 1000 dollars on a piece of art to adorn your home sounds outrageous to most of us. But having a piece of art is like having a piece of fine jewelry; it makes an impact when seen, can affect your mood in a positive way, and is likely going to be passed down for generations. Art is an investment that will enrich your day to day life. This all adds to the value of the piece well beyond its ability to pretty up a wall. Even with that said you may say that it isn't worth it but consider that when you spend money on art, you are paying for decades of practice and creation by the artist that resulted in that painting or illustration you would love to own. That's why those hundreds of dollars make sense. But the sticker shock is real when you browse your local galleries and the average joe doesn't have hundreds in pocket change for decor. You aren't out of luck at being a conisure of the arts, you might be surprised at how easy it is to work with artists at getting art affordably. Here are a few tips on building an art collection on a budget:
If originals are a bit too intimidating to start creating your home gallery, try buying prints. Many amazing artists offer prints of varied sizes. Small prints can range from $20-$40, while large ones may be available for around $100-$200. This is a way more reasonable dive into the art world and accessible for every budget. Many artists offer prints they create and sell themselves, or use print services for unique recreations of their work. You can find prints on artist's websites, at art festivals/markets, or even direct from their studio. Galleries often carry a section of various art prints as well that you can flip through while you experience the glory of the original. For online shoppers, you can also find amazing prints at print service websites like Society6 or Redbubble. These places offer these prints on kitsch items like mugs and pillows if artful touches to your life feel more like your vibe.
It is all too often you look at a piece of art on the wall of a gallery or cafe and just immediately fall in love. The color, the pattern, the imagery speaks to you and thrills you. Then you look at the title card and immediately get sticker shock. When in sticker shock mode, we completely talk ourselves out wanting the art that only moments ago gave us chills. This is downright silly! You love that piece, and even though a few hundred dollars seems like a lot of dough, it is likely you can afford it. Believe it or not, nearly every artist I know, including myself, will work out a payment plan for their original work. Others may do it differently but I ask for a 25% initial payment and then that piece is reserved just for you. Depending on what is worked out between you and the artist, you can take your time making payments on that piece from a couple weeks to a couple months. This means that your $200 original painting is only $50 up front. Talk to an artist you love, get to know them, ask about the piece you are interested in, then ask if they would be willing to offer payments. You may be surprised about how easy it is to get an original piece of artwork. It is also not out of the question to barter with artists. See below for the rules to live by when bartering with artists.
Maybe you have a vision in your head of a pet portrait or piece of art that is custom to you and your style but you are too afraid to ask an artist for fear it will cost too much. Most commissions are pricey but will be a piece you will cherish for its personal sentiment. When you enter into a commission, keep in mind you almost never pay the full rate up front. The common practice is only 50% up front and the rest paid by the delivery of the piece. This means you can pace your spending for something one-of-a-kind and just for you. This is also a good way to get a showstopper of a gift for a loved one without breaking the bank.
If you offer a valuable service or product you may be in a good position to barter a deal with a local artist you love. Artists, not unlike celebrities, are just like you. We go grocery shopping, we get our hair done, we do chores. Which means we are generally open to trading our art for things we need and want. I've bartered for other art, housecleaning, meals by a personal chef, haircuts, messages, website design, and tickets to shows. I would never approach an artist with no pretense, just saying, "I don't have money, take this thing instead." The better approach is to get to know the artist and express that you like a piece of their work. Build a relationship and let them know you would like to pay or barter for the piece to see if they're interested. If they are up for it, NEVER cheap them on the trade. Always barter at a dollar for dollar value. If the painting is $500, and the cleaning services you would like to offer equates to $100 day, then offer five cleaning days. Bartering is huge in the art world, all you have to do is ask.
You don't need to be some wealthy elite to own art, there are plenty of options to support artists you love and become a collector all your own. Creators love connecting with people who enjoy their work and are very willing to see you take it home. Don't be afraid of that dollar sign, I promise it is worth every penny you paid or traded in a way that makes sense to you. Just always remember, no matter what, NEVER ASK FOR FREE ART!