Affordable art and where to find it

There is nothing I love more in decor than filling your home with personality, and for us, that’s with art and prints.

I often find the term ‘Art’ quite an umbrella term, can we call it Art if we got it from a High Street store? Or do we have to call it a print? For the sake of argument I’m calling it all Art because frankly, in my house it all makes a statement and is loved by us – we frame anything.

But that’s also not to say we don’t care about art and artists – in my opinion you can love both commercial pieces, High Street pieces and still care about original artwork and the creative process. As in most homes, we have a bit of both.

Lol if you can see my reflection in this image…

Funnily enough, this collage wall in our living room was never supposed to be anything but a place to store pictures as we had loads waiting to be hung just piled up on the floor. By next month most of these will have dispersed amongst our new hallway and these walls will be almost bare again…but the beauty of this wall is that every time we move a picture we have replaced it with something else (a photo from a holiday, a postcard in a frame, a print bought from a friend) and it has made the room look different every time.

For me, the crux of a decent gallery wall is different size pictures and frames – it keeps your eye wandering (which is a good thing, in my book!).

I get asked a lot about where our prints are from so thought I’d share a few favourites:

PARTNERSHIP EDITIONS

This website’s ethos is ‘Art For All’ and specialises in affordable original art by upcoming artists – I have bought a few from here (Jonathan Schofield, Alexandria Coe and more recently, and yet to be framed, Venetia Berry) and it is always on my list for birthday and christmas presents. It’s not cheap but you are buying original pieces here, and you can get some for around £100 – and for someone who is starting to build a collection and will keep them forever, it’s the best site in my opinion.

 

Jonathan Schofield at Partnership Editions

The key to styling art is to buy things you love, and don’t worry about it ‘fitting in’ or fitting a trend. Often, I love the mix of affordable pieces slotted in with more expensive ones – and if you love it, it will turn into your style.

Clockwise from left: Painting a wedding gift from friends: Theo Platt.  Print: £14.50, Etsy. Drawing: Alexandria Coe at Partnership Editions.

PRINT CLUB LONDON

Print Club sells Limited edition screenprints, all highly curated so you know you’re buying into something decent if it’s on their site (they even do more affordable prints of Alexandria Coe’s work). I have Jeannie Phan’s ‘Synchronised Swimmers’ in our hallway.

Anything can be framed: it doesn’t have to be art or anything or worth loads. One of my favourite pieces in the photo above is the map of LA which I bought whist in the US for $1 and framed it when I got home. I love that it evokes memories for me.

And memories play a huge part of pictures for me, I love buying prints whilst away as I can associate it with the trip, the mount Fuji image we bought from an antiques shop on the same road as our hotel in Kyoto. Then our friend (from Sharp Objects) framed it beautifully for us.

Don’t be afraid to find artists you love via Instagram. For many, it is a great way to showcase their portfolio. Through the platform I have found loads of artists, including one of my new favourites Isabelle Feliu. Other Insta brands I love are  Hotel Magique and Lola Donoghue.

Print: Isabelle Feliu via Society 6.

‘Synchronised Swimmers’ print: Jeannie Phan via Print Club London. Pink print: Hotel Magique. Map: bought in LA.

Don’t worry about not having a gallery wall immediately. most of our print collection has grown over the years – we’ve been together 10 years now and have been collecting slowly. There’s always more of a story that way, too.

THE AUCTION COLLECTIVE

Auctions to me, seem scary. The Art auction world just seems like a faraway place, but The Auction Collective is changing this. They run pop-up exhibitions by under-represented artists with auctions are open to everyone, no buyers commission, and they explain bidding (which you can do online) in layman’s terms. All the art is also sold framed and ready to hang, so takes an extra layer of time and thought off your hands.

Print (which I got framed at my local framer on Wood Green high Road): Lola Donoghue. Small print: an old Fashion Week invite by Markus Lupfer.

ORIGINAL ART UNDER £100

I have mentioned this site before, but I love the concept of buying from a lesser known artist but getting something equally as beautiful. The collection is quite vast, so you have to sift – but I keep looking at Jacqueline Westland’s oil paintings which are truly beautiful.

Painting, salvaged from a house (I painted the frame with a tester pot of Farrow & Ball’s ‘Preference Red’). Limited Edition print: Sarah Maple via The Other Art Fair.

ART FAIRS

Art fairs are so much more than a commercial venture these days, they’re a day out, a place to be inspired. Even if you’re not buying, Frieze is definitely worth a visit one year, but for a buyer I can highly recommend the Affordable Art Fair (obviously, the term ‘affordable’ is used relatively here), or my favourite: The Other Art Fair. A few years ago, I picked up the Sarah Maple print from here, and since she has gone on to feature on the cover of this month’s Harper’s Bazaar and be included in The Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibition (curated by Grayson Perry).

Last month, I noticed a man carrying the most beautiful piece of art on the tube, I asked him about it and it turned out it was one of his paintings – Benjamin Parker – and he was on his way to sell at The Other Art Fair! We had such a lovely chat about art and Japan (his work is very Japan inspired) and it made me smile at the wonderful art world and how it can really bring people together. We’ve vowed to visit his studio in Walthamstow soon.

Photograph: Claire Menary for Pampelone.

Don’t be afraid to buy ‘off the peg’. It’s not all about original watercolours picked up from a little place in Marrakech, often it’s just a ‘buy because you like it type of affair’. I have bought prints from carboot sales, High Street shops, prints from Etsy, framed old records – if you like it, frame it! Or just stick it on the side, I have postcards I love just leaning on my fireplace, or pages from magazines stuck to my office walls with washi tape, which all adds to my inspiration.

Stores selling great prints are: Vespiary, Habitat, Desenio, Tate, Paper Collective, Your Type Print, Etsy (I like ArteHausPrints) and Society 6 (I got stung on shipping charges the last time I bought from here but apparently they refund it, so am currently looking into this!).

Totoro print: Society 6. Linen rainbow: Wonder & Rah.

OWN ART SCHEME

This is an interest-free scheme which allows you to borrow up to £2500 to purchase certain art (they’ve partnered up with particular fairs, galleries and stores (Art Republic is part of it) – you can browse online) and pay it back over 10 or 20 months. There is also Own Art Plus etc which allows bigger loans. A great incentive.

‘Change’ print: Ben Eine at Nelly Duff (this has gone up a lot since I bought it). Beach photograph: Tommy Clarke at Lumitrix.

And finally: framing. I don’t buy my frames from Ikea anymore, sorry, I love Ikea but their frames have become quite cheap looking and I’ve noticed a few of mine bow after a while. The alternative for me has been Habitat, I have bought so many frames from there lately and the quality is superb. I particularly like the oak ‘Trieste’ and the gold ‘Kupari’. I have also taken a few to my local framer (especially to have a few, like the Lola Donoghue one, ‘floating’), I got a few hanging ones from Matalan and now use EasyFrame for mounts and frames. Who knew I would become such an expert on frames and mounts?! Mounts is something I never knew about before but the site makes it so easy – you can even upload your photos to see how it would look. I’ve since become a bit obsessed with coloured mounts now – it can really make a plain piece jump out.

That’s it. Sorry that turned into a bit of an essay! But I find when it’s something I’m really passionate about the words just flow…

And we’ll finish putting up some pictures in the hallway next week so tune in on stories if you fancy!

 

33 Comments

  1. Love Print Club – we have loads of prints from there. I worked in an art gallery for years so have too much art – occupational hazard! One piece of advise I would give is to not be afraid to ask for a discount at galleries or art fairs if buying something a bit more expensive – a lot of galleries allow for a margin of at least 10% for a discount so it never hurts to ask!
    Also, art studios are a great place to buy – they have open weekends where you can buy direct from artists (cheaper as no gallery commission built in) – Wimbledon Art Studios is one I can think of.

  2. Hi Alex. I love what you say about moving prints from room to room but what do you do with all the holes in the walls? Even small nails/ hooks leave a trace and unless you are covering with the same sized frame I guess they will show. I have 24 Norman Rockwell pictures over 2 walls (among others) and I reckon I will have to redecorate when I eventually decide to take them down.

    1. We have just put prints back over the holes! Even different size frames, as long as they roughly go in the space….our living room is only temporary though to be honest so at some point we’ll start again and paint it x

  3. Hi Alex, I really enjoy your tips and think your whole concept of affordable nice things is marvellous! One additional recommendation for art – if you haven’t come across it yet – is the-saleroom.com, which lets you bid for art, antiques, and many other things online in sales around the world. Many of us at the gallery where I work are fans, and it is very addictive once you start scrolling through! You’ll need to factor in a buyer’s premium on top of the price (usually around 20%) so keep that in mind when bidding – but most shipping can be arranged relatively affordably through the local mailboxes etc. Enjoy!

  4. Hey Alex lovely post ! I was just wondering where do you go to get your prints framed ? I seem to never find the right size frames so I end up having to buy prints from desenio where the frames come with the print 🙁

    I’d love to frame post cards and random prints but going to a shop and having it professionally framed can cost a fortune . Also where do you get the “passe partout” pieces ? Looks like a lot of your prints were framed with a border all around it , did you do this yourself or did you buy them like that already ? X

  5. I love your gallery wall! My OH is taken on the idea, but I’m working on him!
    To me “art” doesn’t have to be unique or expensive. It does have to speak to me though. I think commercial prints can be classed as art, something doesn’t stop being art if it’s popular (and commercial art is made to appeal to as many as possible).
    One of my favorite pieces is 10 Royal Mail stamp postcards, they’re framed 2 in a frame, so five frames hung side by side which makes them look like on piece rather than five. The rest of our art is very much a mixed bag, a watercolor print of a mountain close to where I grew up, a screen print from Granada, two modern oil paintings, a home made modern collage. The unifying factor is that they all mean something to us.

  6. A good source of prints and objects are museum and gallery shops. 25th November is Museum Shop Sunday when lots of places including Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft where I work will have special offers and events as an alternative to Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Look at places near you to see what’s on.

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