My Favorite Sources for Artwork.

I had a couple of readers ask where I find artwork for our home for my most recent Magpie Mail post, so I thought I’d dedicate a post to a roundup of a few of my favorite sources. I will first say that I have discovered a few things about my taste in and approach to collecting art for my home over the past many years, and will provide those insights to set the table:

  1. Ideally, it’s better for me to collect pieces slowly. I tend to find that the most incredible pieces present themselves when I least expect them — and certainly not when I am desperately in search of a piece of art for that wall, and STAT. I am reminding myself to take this medicine right now, as we have a slew of guests scheduled for various entertaining occasions for the next few weeks, and I would like nothing more than to “finish” at least some of the rooms in our new apartment. But, in the long run, I know I would rather live with bare white walls for awhile than to rush into settling for something.
  2. One of the biggest problems I ran into early on was that I kept finding pieces I loved but buying them in a size 11×14 or 16×20 only to learn that those sizes were simply not suitable for the expanses of wall I tended to be hoping to cover. In my opinion, nothing looks sadder than a small, floating piece of art against a sea of painted wall. I’d almost rather have nothing at all! It’s tough because the bigger sizes tend to be exponentially more expensive than the smaller ones, but in the long run, I think it’s wiser to invest in fewer, bigger pieces.
  3. That said: a gallery wall has been a great solution for us in many of our homes as it has enabled us to cover a lot of wall space with small, well-loved pieces of art and memorobilia. Our new apartment may well be the only home in which we do not compile one.
  4. Framing is expensive. I nearly always underestimate the cost and feel furious when I discover that framing a $300 print will cost…close to $300. Ugh! There are some less expensive options — Framebridge, for example, or purchasing a frame yourself from a store like Pottery Barn (if the artwork is small enough) — but if you have something properly matted and framed, it costs a small fortune for reasons that are unclear to me. (Do I underestimate the craftsmanship and complexity of frame building?) Over time, I’ve just had to accept this cost and mentally round up when I am considering a work of art. I’ve finally come around to the same thinking when it comes to furniture — for years, I would “forget” or “overlook” the cost of shipping the furniture and now when I see the sticker price, I have to pause and remind myself it’s actually likely to be $200 extra for delivery. At any rate, the same goes for art and framing. This is also why I very much love stretched canvas artwork (not sure if that’s the official term) — you can hang it without a frame for a kind of painterly/modern look.

Now for a few of my favorite sources for artwork / artists I’ve been eyeing for a long while:

Sally King Benedict — I love the color and composition of her artwork. So fanciful and playful and feminine!

Inslee — I was a fan of hers long before we became friends. What a talent! I especially loved her series of figure studies last year and her more recent collection of color spots. I have a little watercolor of hers on my desktop right now as I write this!

Saatchi — This site requires more thorough investigation and study as it is essentially a marketplace for independent artists and you have to be patient and/or know what you are looking for to strike big. But I discovered and fell absolutely in love with a Spanish artist named Javier Montesol on the site and we invested in one of his large-format toro paintings (ours is close to six feet by six feet) — similar to this one. We had just returned from Spain when we purchased it for our new home in Chicago so it bore personal meaning to us for that reason, too. I absolutely love it. In the few minutes I spent scrolling around the site while writing this blurb, I also discovered this incredible oil on canvas and am daydreaming about it in our bedroom…

Paule Marrot Textiles — I have long lusted after one of these framed reproductions of the iconic textiles of Paule Marrot. I love this specific one with the birds, but this one with the doves is also gorgeous.

Furbish Studio — This boutique always has fun and playful discoveries. A pair of these Melvin G. compositions would be cool in a powder room or nursery, for example.

St. Frank — Their framed textiles are absolutely stunning. I’ve always loved their otomis and infant robes. Such a cool and unexpected way to add texture and color to a room.

Andy Warhol Reproductions on Canvas (seen above in situ in a gorgeous interior design situation dreamed up by the one and only Bailey McCarthy) — I am actually not an enormous Andy Warhol fan (in fact even less so after seeing an exhibit on him at the Whitney earlier this year), but I have always appreciated his series “Cowboys and Indians” because it speaks to a complex and problematic part of American history that I studied fairly extensively as an undergraduate and I find some of the archetypes that he depicted in this series highly resonant with my own childhood iconography (I shared some adjacent musings on this topic here). I was thrilled when I one day found a reproduction on canvas of his General Custer portrait on eBay and have since come to learn that you can find similar pieces there regularly. Much of our artwork is more traditional, so this particular piece stands out. This Brigitte Bardot or this Elizabeth Taylor could play a similar role in a bedroom or closet or powder room in your home.

Charles Ryan Clarke Matchbooks — Such a cool way to memorialize an important restaurant in your life.

Chinoiserie Panels — You can find amazing scores in this vein on Etsy, like this or this, and they are enormous!

Framed Audubon Prints — My mother-in-law has enormous (poster-sized), vintage Audubon prints in her sitting room and they are gorgeous. I immediately emulated her by finding four small and non-vintage Audubon bird prints on Etsy and framed them myself when I was maybe 24 — but I have repurposed them in every single home I’ve had, though I’ve reframed them a few times. I love that there are so many varieties to select from, and this is one inexpensive way to line up a series of 11×14 or 16×20 prints to make a grand impact. You can find framed versions here or go it on your own here.

Jayson Home — Super cool pieces with a distinctive (animal-centric) vibe. I love this macaw and this woven bull head.

Floriosa — I love the cheeky, modern take on chinoiserie here, especially their monkeys and birds.

Old Try — For those with Southern roots / connections: I get incessant questions about my “Old Dominion” letterpress print from Old Try. It’s a lovely way to pay homage to Mr. Magpie’s home state and to our shared love of Charlottesville, VA.

Ashley Longshore — Specifically her Audrey series. So, so cool.

Etsy — This is vague but I have found so many insane pieces here. One of my favorite strategies is to thumb through one of my favorite interior design books (I especially love Nate Berkus) and, when struck by a particular piece of art, spend some time nosing around on Etsy searching from similar pieces. For example: “vintage oil on canvas horse” or “vintage bullfighting painting.” You just never know what you’ll find — for example, this original Francisco Goya, which I would promptly re-frame in a very modern setting (white wide mat and a slim black frame).

Mirrors! — They can be just as impactful as artwork. Anthro actually has some really cool, vintage-looking ones, like this, and I have a very inexpensive round mirror hanging on a leather strap that wins a lot of compliments in our home. Mirrors have the added advantage of making a room look bigger than it is.

Hunt Slonem Bunnies — Borderline iconic at this point, and very very expensive.

More generally (and I realize this is excessively vague): Mr. Magpie and I look for inspiration literally everywhere. In Chicago, we loved taking guests to Publican restaurant and they have these enormous, quirky pig paintings on the walls. I found a pair of (very, very small) versions in a similar vein on Etsy here that we then hung in Chicago home and they always bore personal reference to a cherished hangout of ours. Similarly, my mother-in-law has a series of silhouettes of Mr. Magpie at various ages hanging on her wall, and he commissioned one of mini that he in turn gifted both his mother and I for Christmas. My eyes are always peeled for similar inspiration — and when I run dry, I think back to my childhood. I considered hanging a series of vintage Babar prints (especially love this one) or vintage Madeline prints in mini’s room — both beloved characters from my youth.

Related to this post: inexpensive ways to personalize your home and luxuries for even the smallest apartment.

Liminally related to this post: can I just say that this vacuum is one of the best investments we made to date (thank you to all the Magpies who encouraged me in this direction). The one I linked is the exact model we purchased and if you are in the market, let me say that while Miele is an incredible brand for home appliances, their various lines are very confusing. What’s the difference between a C1, C2, C3 vacuum?! So confusing. I ended up selecting the exact model above because it is optimized for (and comes with attachments for) both hardwood floors and high-pile carpets (and also upholstered furniture and more). It is AMAZING. It is so quiet, so powerful, and so easy to use. I love that it has a very long power cord, you can easily wheel it around (and carry it — it is light!), and there is a button to retract the power cord when done. It’s just brilliantly designed all around but — I’ll spare you a longer review. Trust me: it is one of the best purchases we’ve made recently. (And we’ve made a lot of purchases for our new home already.)

P.S. Time to prep for Thanksgiving and my favorite products for home.

P.P.S. I’m kind of digging these tie-waist jeans.

P.P.P.S I’m also eyeing these dish towels, these fun dining chairs, this skirted bench, and this bath mat and these towels for mini’s bathroom (look for less with this).

12 Comments

  1. Love this post! I’m similar in that I prefer to acquire art slowly and when inspiration strikes. My partner majored in studio art and I have a bunch of his prints framed β€” and we have lots of photographs framed, including one by Joel Meyerowitz that I looooove. In fact, the majority of our art is photographs and art posters (including Lawrence Weiner and Josef Albers reproductions) … and maps! I love maps, too.

    I’ve always wanted to try a gallery wall!

    xx

    1. So so cool — I actually do not have many photographs framed. Good thought for mixing up the media in our home! xx

  2. Can’t wait to dig into all of the sites and see what treasures await! A coworker recently introduced me to dailypaintworks.com I love finding unique pieces there and knowing I am supporting a small business helps me to justify some pieces πŸ˜‰

    1. !!! Love this site! Already found a few pieces that I’m contemplating. Thanks so much for the tip. xxx

  3. Love all these tips and sources (including the commenters’). Another is to shop the shows of your local graduate art school(s) — an MFA friend of mine turned me onto this tip; you can also find student / up-and-coming artists on insta and DM; I’ve done this for both commissioned pieces and existing things I’ve seen and liked. Another fun thing to do is shop the New Yorker cover archives and select a significant date. (You can also do this with old newspapers.)
    A funny note on the Warhol prints — years ago, I found one of his Mao prints, nicely framed, on the street and promptly brought it home. It’s sat propped atop a bookcase ever since, and prompted its fair share of dinner party debates, but I only just recently learned that it’s an object of utter fascination and consternation to my husband’s Iowa relatives, who have spotted it in the photos of our children we share on the family Tiny Beans account. They didn’t know it was a Warhol and apparently decided that in addition to being louche New Yorkers, we were communists to boot! I have to admit I’m sort of loathe to correct them at this point…

    1. OMG – that is hilarious!!! So funny to think about art taken out of context (or seen in the wrong context?). Actually kind of meta…

      Also, I laughed at your description as a “louche New Yorker.”

      Finally — great tips!!!!

      xx

  4. What wonderful tips! I have one to add that has served me so well over the years. WALLPAPER! For my daughter’s nursery, I was obsessed (obsessed!) with the Cole & Son’s bird wallpaper, but I just couldn’t justify the cost. I bought a single roll of paper (https://www.decoratorsbest.com/products/cole-son-hummingbirds-blue-multi-colour-wallpaper) and framed massive panels in frames from Ikea for her wall. I splurged on pillows in the identical fabric, and I even had enough wallpaper left over to line the interior or her wardrobe (just eyeballed it with an Exacto knife and double-stick tape). It came out so, so well. I love her room so much.

    The reason this came to mind while reading your post is because I also used this trick with the Hunt Slonem bunnies. I purchased a memo sample of his white and black wallpaper (it was MAYBE $5??) and maybe I just lucked out but the cutting I got was perfect. It was exactly one bunny centered just right. I put it in a fancy gilt frame and it is the perfect piece of art!

    1. Um – this is BRILLIANT! Thank you so much for sharing these ideas. Absolutely genius. Going to think about doing this in mini’s room!

  5. If you need to cover a large amount of space inexpensively AND like Finnish midcentury design, I recommend Marimekko fabric wall art. It involves some assembly- you stretch the fabric over a wooden frame- but it’s easy, not very expensive, and very lightweight. I have a pear print in my kitchen and I love it!

    1. I love this idea!! I love some of their classic prints — my brother had their car print sheets growing up. So nostalgia-inducing for me. xx

    1. Yay! Was obviously thinking specifically of you. Let me know if you’re on the hunt for something in particular, too (i.e., color, room, style, etc.) I’d be happy to do some more targeted digging πŸ™‚

      xx

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