A Penny-Pinching Student’s Guide to Buying Art

In the process of glitzing up your space, two main factors come into play – taste, and budget. You: a sense of style classier than Buckingham palace, your budget: little to nonexistent. Nonetheless, with a few creative solutions, you can get your abode up and running. Now if only you could figure out where that suspect smell was coming from…


Call it hipster, call it frugal. The Kringloop is good for more than mismatched cutlery – consider buying your new statement piece at the thrift shop. Some handmade paintings can be admittedly creepy, but sometimes that second rate portrait that’s just a little bit off can be relabeled as “charmingly quirky”. Old book pages or sheets of music can easily be repurposed. Keep an eye out for canvases or large wood panels that can be flipped around to reveal yet untainted spaces on which to unleash your own creativity. Which brings us to the next point…

Make your own (ish)

If you’re the next Jackson Pollock, great! Pick up a brush and get expressing. For those whose creations are fit only for their mother’s refrigerator, consider crafting an artsy-fartsy collage. Pairing clippings from magazines alongside pictures with friends sure beats a blank wall. Make sure to use some sticky tack so as not to damage your wall and keep yourself in Villex’s good graces. Bonus: this is a statement piece that is a work in progress – add items of interest as you find them.

Online prints and photographs

If you have a few pennies to rub together, consider getting an affordable print to decorate your space. Ebay is a surprisingly solid option, keeping in mind the option to filter according to “free international shipping”. Depending on your tastes, this source is ripe with vintage feel posters and the classic movie ads. Etsy is furthermore a price-conscious option, where you can find original photography and computer art for starters, some even available for immediate download. All you need is a simple frame and you’re good to go!

Gift shop wrapping paper and other decorations

In museum gift shops, yes, those glossy life sized posters beckon. Yet often overlooked is the wealth of other visually appealing and wallet-appeasing options for sale. Consider some attractive stationary, or splurging on a museum post-card. Wrapping paper available by length is a plus – keep your eyes peeled for anything that could be fit for framing.

Print your own

When it comes to visual media, the internet is a no-fail resource. Roll up your sleeves and get a-Googling, for there is oodles of free for private use images available. NASA’s “Visions of the Future” collection allows you to download a series of poster-sized, high-resolution images free of charge, armed with bright colors and a clean-cut WPA design feel. The Library of Congress and the Getty Search Gateway are both online databases with archive catalogues of images varying in topic and genre. Keep an eye on the legal restrictions, and go wild! Depending on the size and quality that you are going for, this can be a cost-effective way to truly turn your house into a home.

Noga Amiri, Class of 2018, is a literature and art history major from Hilversum, the Netherlands.

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