Design Guide | Sourcing Original Art

Can you spot J in this photo?

Working in design means that I get to be friends with lots of really talented designers, and on occasion I get invited to their homes. The designers I work with are all client-centric problem solvers, so it’s not often that we see a whole lot of anyone’s personal interior style in the workplace. When I get invited into their homes however, it’s like an invitation to get to know them.

I recently went to a party at a designer friend’s home and completely fell in love with her art collection. It was minimal and elegantly displayed, and I felt like it gave me a special glimpse into who she is.

This is what I love about art – it’s deeply personal, potentially more personal than any other element in your home. It’s aesthetic isn’t impacted by function, like furniture or architecture. It’s purely about what speaks to the viewer. Therefore, my number one rule about art in the home is that if you love it, you should display it. I don’t care if it’s a piece you bought from a high-end gallery or a reproduction painting you got at a big-box store.

For my home, I tend to prefer original artwork. That can be a tough preference when you’re on a minimal budget. Despite that , I’ve found some great resources for incredible original artwork. Some cost a little more then others (like a custom commissioned piece), but others may just be the cost of printing and framing!

Social Media

Love it or hate it, social media has become a prime resource for me to find unique treasures! There are so, so many talented artists that are using Instagram as a platform to market their work. Searching hashtags or going to the “discover” page has led me to tons of Instagram artists, many of which sell their artwork! I’ve also found lots of sources via other bloggers and designers I follow on Instagram. Some of the artists I enjoy following on Instagram right now are Brynn Casey, Laurie Anne Gonzalez @laurieanneart, Jessica Bush @jessicabushart, and my dear friend  Caroline Riley @carolinerileyart. There are about a million more, and tons that I follow that I can’t even think of.

Online Art Shops

I don’t know if it’s a millennial thing, or an evolved internet thing, but I feel like there are actually so many good resources online where you can affordably purchase an original piece of art. The list below is barely scratching the surface of all that is out there, but they are some of my favorite places to window shop for the perfect piece!

Local Shows/Galleries/Coffee Shops

Support local business and you may just find some great local art! There are three galleries right around my neighborhood, one of which happens to be located in my favorite neighborhood coffee shop! Since I don’t live in your neighborhood, my best advice on this one is to get out and explore. you may be pleasantly surprised with what you find. Usually the artists displaying their work in these makeshift galleries are just starting out, and the prices per piece (while not as inexpensive as big box store art) are often much more affordable than lots of original art. At the very least, you can build a list of local artists you love and save up for a special piece. It’s worth it, I promise!

Personal Photography

Any photo that captures the imagination is good in my book… I also love anything that is of family or friends (especially when they are vintage!). Right now, I’m wanting to hang some photos we took on trips together in our home.  We bought the frames for our dining room with the express intention of faming some of our photographs from a trip we took to Ireland a few years ago. Long story short, don’t be afraid to hang your own photos. They can serve as a great conversation piece when you have guests, and bring up some of your favorite memories the rest of the time!

Vintage Art

This category includes both vintage works of art, but also vintage textiles, objects, or books. We have both in our home! One of my favorite pieces (that I need to get framed for Jon ASAP!) is a vintage book page describing all of the rugby positions. I bought it off of Etsy as an anniversary gift when we were newly married and super broke. Other vintage artwork in our home are paintings that were inherited. I don’t know who bought them when, but I loved them so much I had them framed and have moved them from apartment to apartment and now to our house.

Family Heirlooms

My grandmother and grandfather on my dad’s side were artists (she was primarily a painter, though she dabbled in lots of kinds of art, and he was a ceramicist). My grandmother on my mom’s side also painted and was a talented seamstress. Pretty much anything they’ve made is an automatic yes from me… I love all of it and am honored to display it in my home! This is the biggest category for me I would say that most of the art in my home right now (and most that I want to have framed and hung!) is something that one of my grandparents made. We have a zebra drawing hung in the living room that my grandma drew on the back of a paper bag. She would probably find it hilarious that we are displaying it so prominently, because I don’t think she ever intended to it be framed. We have a series beach sketches that she did on trace paper hanging up our stairwell. I have two beach paintings my grandpa did framed and waiting to be hung in our master. We also have a sculpture my grandpa did on my fireplace and little ceramic bowls that he made, holding jewelry and bobby pins, strategically located near sinks and bedside.


Finally, if you really can’t find what you’re looking for, why not try your hand at DIYing? You never know… you may just find the perfect new hobby!

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