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Not A Picasso

Thursday, March 17, 2011
Where To Find Affordable Art For Your Home Office

By Kim O’Connor


One of the benefits of working from a home office is the freedom to decorate as you please. Choosing artwork may sound like serious business, but it doesn’t have to be. Nor does art need to be a big investment. You’re decorating your workspace, not choosing heirlooms for posterity. Your only goal is to surround yourself with inspiring images, so have fun.

Here are a few ideas to help you find art that suits your taste without breaking the bank.

Original Art

You don’t have to go to an upscale gallery to shop for quality paintings and other fine art. With a little legwork, you can find affordable, one-of-a-kind pieces you love.

Etsy.com, a website where people from all over the world sell handmade goods, is a great place to start browsing if you’re not sure what you want. Whether you settle on a serene still life, a whimsical illustration or a photograph, Etsy makes it easy to buy from a diverse range of contemporary artists.

If you have more specific parameters in mind, or if you prefer vintage pieces, try searching for art on eBay.

If you want to look at artful pieces in person, thrift stores and other secondhand sources are treasure troves for unique paintings, especially if you like portraits or landscapes.

Reproductions


The key to finding the right print is to choose something you like while avoiding cliché.

Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” may be your favorite painting, but it is also everyone else’s. Aim for something more personal. Skip the poster and print shop at the mall and instead try 20x200.com, a website that offers limited edition prints at low prices.

If you have a favorite artist, check the gift shops of the museums where their work is displayed. Most big museums have online storefronts that are easy to browse.

If you prefer design or architecture, cultural museums and decorative arts museums can be great sources. Try
the prints at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (vam.ac.uk), a favorite stop for many design buffs.

Vintage Posters


Most people think of posters as dorm room décor, but vintage posters are a sophisticated alternative. (Make sure you spring for a frame, though; thumbtacks aren’t going to cut it.)

Postergroup.com offers a huge array of original vintage posters. Wallblank.com specializes in reproductions of World War I-era travel posters and other charming advertisements. You can also try searching eBay for old maps or school posters that were used as classroom aides.

No-Cost Alternatives


Keepsakes work well for artful do-it-yourself displays. Instead of lining your desk with family photos, fill your home office with children’s artwork or postcards from friends and family. Pop them into pre-made frames or tack them to a corkboard so you can rotate in new favorites. You can even go 3-D by incorporating trinkets from your travels or reminders of your hobbies.


Kim O’Connor
, a freelance writer in Chicago, is addicted to Etsy.


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