8 Creative Alternatives to Expensive Wall Art

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By Lucy Wang
These budget-friendly artwork selections can instantly add personality to your home without breaking the bank.

Great art has a reputation for being fabulously expensive, but that needn’t be the case when it comes to home decoration. If cost is holding you back from adding art to your bare walls, keep scrolling to see eight budget-savvy ideas for finding quality alternatives to expensive art.

 1. Rent Art

If indecisiveness is keeping you from taking the plunge, consider renting art for a fraction of the asking price. UK–based Rise Art, which ships to many major countries (including the U.S.), lets you borrow original art for a fixed monthly fee starting at £25 ($35) a month. For a stateside option, San Francisco–based GetARTUp also offers an art rental service starting at $55 a month.

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Rise Art offers art you can test drive in your home for a monthly cost.

Rise Art offers art you can test drive in your home for a monthly cost.

2. Buy Art Online

Thanks to the Internet, you can now browse fantastic art from around the world without leaving your seat. Popular places to search for prints online include Society6, which also offers framed prints, and DeviantArt, the nearly 20-year-strong online hub for creatives that makes ordering or commissioning prints from specific artists easy. For original art, Etsy has earned a reputation for offering one-of-a-kind pieces at reasonable prices.

Tens of thousands of artists are represented on Society6, a site that offers original art for a variety of products from prints to t-shirts.

Tens of thousands of artists are represented on Society6, a site that offers original art for a variety of products from prints to t-shirts.

3. Make Your Own Art

Delving into the world of DIY art can seem intimidating if you don’t feel creatively inclined, but thanks to the proliferation of tutorials on Pinterest and step-by-step YouTube videos, finding affordable easy and art projects has never been easier. 

Sosi gets into trouble beneath a colorful grid painted by her dad as a riff on the German painter Gerhard Richter.

Sosi gets into trouble beneath a colorful grid painted by her dad as a riff on the German painter Gerhard Richter.

4. Get Creative With Framing

Almost anything can look like a polished work of art with the right framing. Whether it’s a sheet of wallpaper, a piece of fabric, or keepsake clothing, these items placed behind a frame can become a room's instant focal point. 

Lyng Hansen steamed and framed remnants of 19th-century wallpaper found during the renovation.

Lyng Hansen steamed and framed remnants of 19th-century wallpaper found during the renovation.

5. Download Non-Copyrighted Images

Fantastic high-resolution images can be found in Creative Commons for free. Many of NASA’s pictures belong to the public domain; we’re particularly fond of their space travel posters specifically designed for free download and printing. In recent years, many incredible historic public domain artworks have also been uploaded to the Internet and are freely available, such as those put forth by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Getty.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory tapped Seattle design firm Invisible Creature to design Visions of the Future, a beautiful series of free-to-download space tourism posters.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory tapped Seattle design firm Invisible Creature to design Visions of the Future, a beautiful series of free-to-download space tourism posters.

6. Visit Your Local Thrift Shop

Interesting art, vintage frames, and even authorized prints can turn up at your local thrift shop or secondhand store. In the image below, a collection of plates sourced from thrift stores were used to decorate a kitchen wall. Likewise, keep an eye out for flea markets or garage sales for more budget-friendly finds or check out estate sales for potentially nicer pieces.

Flea markets and thrift stores were gold mines for finding the plates Congdon used—to great effect—to adorn the kitchen wall.

Flea markets and thrift stores were gold mines for finding the plates Congdon used—to great effect—to adorn the kitchen wall.

7. Attend a College Art Show

Support the up-and-coming talent by checking out art exhibitions held by your local university where you can find real gems for a bargain.  

As part of the state's Commissioner's Network, New Haven's Lincoln-Bassett School will undergo a major transformation this year to improve its academic, social, and health programs. The Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology teamed up with Svigals + Partners for this mural-painting project, aimed to bring more inspiration into the school environment.

As part of the state's Commissioner's Network, New Haven's Lincoln-Bassett School will undergo a major transformation this year to improve its academic, social, and health programs. The Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology teamed up with Svigals + Partners for this mural-painting project, aimed to bring more inspiration into the school environment.

8. Head to IKEA

The superstore king of home furnishings is also home to a collection of prints with incredibly low prices. Available online and in store, these affordable artworks can be paired with budget-friendly frames also sold through IKEA

Many low-cost prints and frames are available at IKEA.

Many low-cost prints and frames are available at IKEA.