Art Attack! Where to buy amazing and affordable art
Let's talk about art. And not in a high-brow, snooty, chin stroking way. I know nothing about art in that way. But that doesn't put me off it. Far from it. I love it. I don't feel pressured to try and understand it. I know what I like and I know what I definitely don't like and I think this is the key to building a collection. It's all very well going out and buying a Damien Hirst because everyone else says he's brilliant. But what do you think? His work leaves me a bit cold if I'm completely honest and so I won't be spending my Lottery money on one of his pieces if/when I win (hope is a wonderful thing). I always smile at the cheeky Anthony Burrill's comment on the art world in the poster above. Basically, above all else, buy what you love, and you'll love it for years to come.
The reality is that most of us aren't in the market for a Damien Hirst or a David Hockney. If you are then lucky you! But we still want to fill our walls with loveliness. And the same principle still applies. Art is such a massive part of making your house a home and putting your personal stamp on it. And it doesn't have to cost millions to look good.
So with that in mind I thought I'd do a round-up of some of my favourite places to buy affordable art.
Since moving house I've found I have a lot more walls to fill. I've also found that where we used to have quite a bit of disposable income to spend on art (those were the days), these days we're having to spend our money on exciting things like plastering and rewiring instead. Luckily I have discovered a rich source of amazing and very affordable prints online at Society 6. They have a huge selection so set aside a good few hours for a browse. I was a bit sceptical at first but having ordered a few items from them, I have been blown away by the quality of their prints. They are gorgeous gallery quality giclee prints on lovely thick card. You can choose different sizes to suit your space and can even have them framed and ready to go straight on your wall. My next makeover project is my hallway and landing and I recently ordered these Lina Cavalieri Fornasetti style eyes (which my husband hates) to use somewhere. But I so wish I'd just ordered them framed as I now have the hassle of trying to find frames that fit. The awesome pink and red Bad Ass Babes Club print in Nellie's room is also from Society 6.
They also have excellent customer service. Top tip - join their mailing list and wait until they offer free delivery, or better still, 15%-20% off.
I would also recommend checking out Desenio, who have some really cool prints and offer gorgeous gold frames for them; Juniqe and if Scandi minimalism is your thing then I totally recommend the gorgeous work of Soo-UK. Her monochrome ballet series is stunning and I really like the typeface she uses on her slogan prints.
2) Card and stationary shops
If you're an avid gallery wall builder this one's for you. Whenever I go to buy a birthday card I always make a point of having a really good scan around for any cards that might look good in frames. My favourite places to pick these up are anywhere with a fancy stationary department like Liberty London or Selfridges. If you're a stationary geek like me, and find yourself in or around Clerkenwell, you absolutely have to visit the fabulous Marby & Elm. Their cards are printed on a vintage hand fed press in eye popping neon and are a perfect example of what I'm talking about. I popped in during Clerkenwell Design Week and bought this Be Brave card in orange neon for Raf's room. Stick it in a £2 Ikea Ribba frame and you're laughing. The Lucha Libre card was one my husband picked out for Raf in another gift shop.
3) Vintage markets and charity shops
So I think we can all agree that this is a great dining room? But can we also agree that without that eclectic collection of vintage oil paintings it would just be a nice dining room? That's what I think anyway. Now, it may be that the paintings in this image are family heirlooms that have been passed down through generations. But I think it's more likely that they have been thrifted and collected before being gathered together and displayed on that wall to stunning effect.
The devil is in the detail and I love how vintage oil paintings bring instant gravity and class to a space. You can pick up similar paintings by scouring local charity shops and vintage markets wherever your travels take you. I got this oil painting (below) for £60 on a visit to Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Park Racecourse. We probably paid too much for it as it's quite tatty but we both love it, and people always admire it when they see it, so I don't mind too much if we paid over the odds for it. I'm always on the lookout for other pieces to add to the collection and have been known to disappear into a charity or bric a brac shop on many an occasion when something has caught my eye. You never know, one day I may unearth a masterpiece!
4) The kids "artwork"
Now, I've put artwork in inverted commas because if you have kids, and you're anything like me, 90% of the kids doodles will find their way to the bottom of the recycling bin #mumfail. But every now and then they will create something unintentionally wall worthy. It's rare in our house but it can happen. Evidence below (let's pretend my hand isn't there, I still haven't got round to putting this one up).
Now, I know what you're thinking...how in the hell is that three legged monstrosity wall worthy? Well, every picture tells a story and all that. And this three-legged wonder is Rafferty's one time imaginary friend Hado (pronounced Hay-doh), who played a very important part in all of our lives when we moved to SE London two years ago. That's when he showed up. And he went to live with his Nanny in her castle in the sky at around the time Raf started school. He still visits every now and then but we don't hear much about him these days. Which makes me a bit sad. He was a hoot! Apart from the time he apparently climbed inside Raf and pushed a poo out of him in the middle of the playground. That wasn't so great at the time. Very funny now though.
Anyway this was the time Raf painted Hado for me so I could see what he looked like. I don't think I'll ever let this one go. I'm welling up a bit writing this. Jesus Christ woman get a grip!
The little black and white picture was his first ever attempt at screen printing in the kids area of the Affordable Art Fair. Obviously I tried to make him draw something other than a load of dots and obviously he ignored me..."It's the stars in the sky mummy!" "Sure it is darling". This had been shoved in a drawer and forgotten about until recently so I'm glad it's getting some love now. And if you're still not convinced, remember, this is in his bedroom where few guests venture! He hasn't created anything which warrants a place in any of the main rooms of the house yet ;-)
5) My favourite gallery
NELLY DUFF. God, I love this place. Ok, so this is the most expensive option of the five. But this is the place to go if you're after something a bit special for your walls IMO. I'm a fan of all the cheaper options above. However I do believe that it's totally worth having a few really good pieces in your home if you can afford to. And these will stand the test of time. I try to keep visits to the gallery in Columbia Road to a minimum because every time I go in there's something else I want. When we first started buying from them many years ago, we were more into the street artists like Pure Evil and Phlash and I bought my husband this for his birthday which looks fabulous in a walnut frame. Though he does tend to scare small children. Then I got into Angelique Houtkamp and received a few of her tattoo flash prints for birthdays and Christmas. The one below is extra special as it was given to me by my husband the morning we got married.
It's not all street art though. I also love the delicate work of Jessica Albarn and bought this with a voucher from my girlfriends for my 31st birthday. And I've just treated myself to something entirely different again as a finishing touch to our master bedroom makeover which I'll hopefully be revealing in a few weeks. I thought about it for ages but when you're still really into something almost a year after you've first seen it, it's probably a sign you should buy it! I can't wait to show you it but first I need to get my bum down to the framers with it.
Where do you go to get affordable art? I'd love to hear your tips in the comments section below.