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Affordable Artwork Hacks

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

As someone who regularly shares their home on Instagram with artwork a key feature of my home, I’m often asked where I source mine. I thought a blog to share some of my affordable artwork hacks might be of interest to some of you!


I love art. It’s a real passion of mine. I think I probably started looking out for it back in my teenage years when the art I proudly displayed in my bedroom mainly consisted of album covers, posters, fliers, tickets and Polaroids from nights out, always with an eye for colour, typography and graphic design. It’s really special how the art we put on our walls can evoke special memories or tell our story in some way.


The collecting and curating really took on momentum when we bought our own home nearly 20 years ago and I wanted a way to add a personal touch to our new place on a very tight budget! Often the things I have put in a frame or exhibited around our home have actually cost nothing.


I look for art in its many forms wherever I am and I’m always looking for a new piece to add to our collection. I am lucky enough to own investment pieces of original art from some of my favourite contemporary artists but these sit comfortably amongst far more easily affordable artwork to create a rich and varied backdrop to our everyday lives.


These days I represent emerging and established artists, showcasing their work in situ on my Instagram page here. I really care about artists and the creative process and do not underestimate the power of a beautiful, original artwork but I am also a realist and understand that not everyone can afford to invest in expensive pieces of art. This blog will help you to start to curate art in your home without the need to rack up big credit card bills!


I particularly enjoy creating Gallery Walls. I find one of the tricks to a successful gallery wall is different size pictures and frames. The beauty of the following suggestions is that you will naturally end up with a collection of affordable artwork in a range of shapes and sizes. So, let's go...



Vintage Photographs

Rummage through market stalls and junk shops to see what treasures you can find or perhaps a family member has a box of old photos in a cupboard or loft. We once put together a great collection of 70's, 80's and 90's family photos in a random selection of frames that looked really good all together.


Posh Wrapping Paper

This Venice poster is actually a sheet of Cavallini & Co wrapping paper. We also have a beautiful Cavallini & Co Geology piece in a frame that is available to buy here.


Lexicon Cards

Easy to source, either secondhand (mine were from a junk shop) or new here. Spell out whatever you like stick to a piece of paper or card and put in a frame! A great affordable artwork hack!


Book Covers

This vintage pelican book was from an Oxfam book shop where I always find a good selection of great vintage books.


Calendar Pages

Either choose specific calendars to use as art in the long run or hunt down bargains in the January sales! This New York image is from a Rifle Paper Company calendar full of cities that we originally used in a group for a gallery wall in my daughter's bedroom.


Get Creative

This collage of St Ives rooftops was created by my husband when we accompanied our children to a workshop at Tate St Ives one half term! Don't be afraid to try your hand at creating something to put in a frame.


Free Printables

I found a set of 'War is Over' printables that are completely free here.


Small Items

Think outside the box when it comes to creating gallery walls or decorating shelves. Reclaimed letters, hats, masks etc add real interest.


Greetings Cards

I pretty much only ever give someone a card that I would be happy framing! It's a great way of adding affordable artwork to your home and in my mind a beautiful card doubles up as a gift if presented alongside a frame to put it in!


Page from an Art Book

Don't destroy that coffee table book worth £££££ but if you can find a good art book or coffee table book at a charity shop or second hand, taking out the pages and framing them is a fantastic affordable artwork hack.


Menus

I'm not suggesting you go around nicking menus that are used every day of the year (but obviously if you really feel the need then that is absolutely your prerogative!) but if you go to a pop up event or a restaurant where they change the menu each day then why not keep that menu as a souvenir? Especially when they are a beautiful as this one from The Seahorse Restaurant in Dartmouth. We have a few menus framed around the house to remind us of special times.


Wallpaper

When you have your heart set on that beautiful wallpaper but it is pretty spenny, a good affordable art hack is to order a sample and put it in a frame, voila!


Fliers, Leaflets or Tickets

Keep a momento of those fun times, especially when they are as pretty as this one from Drift Records Sea Change Festival!


Black and White Photo Wall

Print out those happy memories in black and white to form a cohesive set of images.


Maps

We found this map of where we live in a junk shop when on holiday! I love an old map and could pore over them for hours.


Plates

This plate was from ace ceramacist Anne Barrell but you can pick up decorative plates from car boot sales and charity shops or even high street shops like Marks and Spencer Plate mounts for hanging them can be bought here.


Tea Towels

This red tea towel in the centre of this photo is a Grayson Perry, Grayson's Art Club tea towel from Manchester Gallery Art galleries often have tea towels relating to exhibitions in their shops and my friend Emma Giacalone does a great line in decorative tea towels here.


Poster Books

Poster books are a really good way of obtaining affordable artwork for your walls. The image below is from an Anthony Burrill book that you can get here (although it has gone up in price considerably since I bought it) We also have this book and have numerous pages framed around the house.


Postcards

This is a Yves Saint Laurent 1979 'Love' postcard that I bought as I really wanted a full size print version but couldn't justify the purchase at the time. These days you can get poster versions quite easily and affordably eg here Postcards are a brilliant way to get small versions of artworks that you love into your home.


Frames

A note on framing - a good professional framer is worth their weight in gold and can literally make a scrumpled receipt look like a proper work of art! However, professional framing does not come cheap and I would suggest only splashing out on this for particularly special pieces of art.


When on a tight budget and curating a collection of affordable artwork, I use frames from places such as Dunelm, The Range and Habitat where you can find perfectly acceptable framing options that can be adapted to fit your artworks by adding a different size mount or removing the mount completely and adding your own backing. You can also paint the frames using pots of sample paints or acrylic paints, either in a block colour or with a pattern of some kind and I sometimes paint the mount as well which can work really well.


Another way to source frames is from charity or junk shops where you can often find really good quality frames. Don’t be afraid to remove the existing art from these frames and add your own cleverly sourced affordable artwork! Sometimes artworks don’t even need framing and can sit happily unframed atop your mantelpiece or washi taped directly to the wall, anything goes!


Hope this has been helpful in some way! Let me know in the comments how you get on or if you have an affordable artwork hack of your own to share, I would love to hear it, Emily x

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6 Comments


Hi Emily, I'm a new subscriber here from Instagram. Brilliant article and thanks for sharing such fantastic tips, it's really useful!

I immediately recognised in your art pics on this blog post the ones from Real Hackney Dave, I've been recently eyeing up his 'always a good idea' maps! We moved into our new home less than 2 years ago, and I'm beginning to slowly embrace the idea of building a gallery wall, and collect some fun pieces. I have to get over the apprehension stage of "does it look odd placed here?" and just go with the flow.

Look forward to seeing more of your content and art collabs.

All the best,

Sammie

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What a fabulous blog post. Thank you!

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Hi Emily,

This is such a good, and useful, piece, thank you so much.

Sarah x

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Emily Hadley
Emily Hadley
Apr 18, 2023
Replying to

Hey Sarah,

Thank you so much! 😊 Glad you liked it x

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amandajdinsmore
amandajdinsmore
Apr 13, 2023

Hi Emily,


great read loved it! Will be scouring in my drawers and cupboards for a gallery wall I hope to start in my kitchen!

P.S love your IG page! 💓

Amanda x

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Emily Hadley
Emily Hadley
Apr 18, 2023
Replying to

Hey Amanda!


I really appreciate you commenting on my blogpost! Thank you so much for reading and good luck with your gallery wall!


Thank you for the IG love too! 😍xxx

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