As a young person on a limited budget, you could be forgiven for thinking art is something you need to wait years until you can afford (or are even allowed to hang due to owning your own home). But young art lover Alex Hocking is here to share how you can start an art collection on a budget and how you can display it, even if you’re renting.
Artwork is easily one of the cheapest, simplest and somewhat most overlooked ways of giving your space life and turning your house into a home… especially when it comes to renting. I’m here to give you some simple tips that I guarantee will have your home looking brighter and better than ever before!
Welcome to my place. You will notice that I love artwork, as one should. When I first moved into my house, it took me a good six months of staring at bare stark white walls before I finally had enough and decided to do something about it. Art is good for the soul but it’s also great for your home. As most decorators will tell you, art is always something you should invest not just your money, but also your time in. It will drastically change your home, and it could change your life.
Let’s clear up one of the biggest misconceptions right off the bat as I tell you art can be affordable. Sure, there are some incredible pieces of art that cost an unfathomable amount of money. There is also generic mass produced art from your local cheap chain department stores. And there is everything in between.
To start to dress your home with art, you first need to find what kind of art it is that you like. Are you a classic and traditional painting enthusiast, a contemporary pop art junkie (like me!), or possibly an appreciator of a wide variety of art in all of its wonderful forms?
I would first encourage you to look online, look in books, or even visit a local art gallery to find what kind of art tugs at your heartstrings and hits you in all of the right places. Good art will evoke a certain reaction or feeling when you see it. Perhaps it fills you with calmness or tranquility. Perhaps it fills you with passion and fire. Or perhaps it motivates and inspires you to go further and be better. Once you’ve found your preferred style – it’s time to get yourself some art!
Art is worth investing in, but I understand that everyone has a different budget, so I’m going to share some of my more thrifty tips for acquiring art that has personally helped me decorate my own rented home. Firstly, I would highly recommend trying to find and support local artists in your area. Local art will generally be more affordable, as well as being unique to your location and will give your home a beautiful cultivated look. I would encourage you to firstly head down to your local markets or search for art to your taste within your own community.
Secondly, it’s time to expand your outreach to look to bigger and broader artists. But remember, just because you might love a top artist’s most famous work, it doesn’t mean it has to cost a fortune. Unless you’re trying to acquire the original piece, you will simply be looking for a reproduction of that work, known as a print. There are many websites set up such as allposters.com that offer millions of quality posters and prints for sale at an extremely affordable price, with the option to purchase them with or without the frame. If you opt to go without the frame, a trip to IKEA will be on the cards to source some cheaper frames to finish them yourself. Now this sourcing method is all well and good for some pieces, however, I am a big fan of personal customisation when it comes to my own art collection.
A third great way to acquire personally customised art is to make some of your artwork yourself. There are various methods to doing this. You can opt to go get a giant blank canvas from your local art store and go to town on it with a brush (something I’ve definitely done before), or you can be a little more subtle and include things such as personal photographs or images that arouse a memory or feeling specific to you. Within my own home, I enjoy an equal mix of all three.
Now that you have your artwork sorted, it’s time to get it up! As a young renter myself, I know there are certain rules that one must follow for ensuring care is taken to ensure no damage comes to a rental property, as is your duty as a tenant. However all too often I see renters using this as an excuse to simply not invest in any art at all, leaving their home with big empty white walls just dying for some personality and love. But (providing you seek prior approval from your rental agent/landlord) there is a way around this and it comes in the form of Command 3M hooks and strips. These magical things, in my humble opinion, are far superior to alternatives of the hook variety, and are far more appropriate for putting up larger heavier artwork. I’ve used them for years in all my rentals and never encountered a single issue when it comes time to remove them.
However, even if your agent or landlord isn’t too keen on you hanging art on the walls, there is still another, rather on trend way of displaying your amazing artwork, and that is simply by leaning it against your walls. Larger prints can sit on the floor in hallways or grouped in with furniture, while smaller pieces can sit on top of cabinets or grouped in with shelves. I personally love the effortlessly chic look of this method and have used it frequently around my own home.
And that’s all there is to it. No longer will your home, or your soul, be deprived of being surrounded by the beautiful art it so deserves. Remember that art is exciting, engaging and endearing. Art will bring any room it enters to life and instantly give it an undeniable burst of personality – your personality! Now that you know where to start, it’s time to get out there and get yourself some art!
—Alex Hocking is a former interior decorator and visual merchandiser with a continued passion in interior design, based in Melbourne.