Exciting Happenings in the Affordable Art Sphere

November 29, 2012 | Alex

Now that the conclusion of my One Kings Lane 30-day Challenge has freed up some hours in my day, I thought I'd highlight a few exciting developments in the affordable art sphere.

For a primer on best online sources for affordable art (as well as a pro/con breakdown), check out HGTV stylist Emily Henderson's helpful post. Her favorites include 20x200Mammoth & CompanyLittle Paper PlanesSociety 6  and The Calm Gallery. I second those and would add to her list Saatchi OnlineOne Kings LaneCanvas and CanvasArt.com  (if you can brave the sheer volume. Navigational tips here) and Etsy  (see my favorites here. West Elm's favorites are also a good starting place for Etsy art). As far as non-online sources go, the Affordable Art Fair tops the charts for me. The New York edition is held twice a year-- in the fall and spring. See their website for dates and additional locations. That's where I bought my beloved Charlotte Evans piece!

While those are my stand-bys, I'm happy to share a few new endeavors I've recently discovered.

1. Artsicle

Artsicle is a bit like Netflix for original artwork-- with a few key structural differences and an added rent-to-buy feature. Founded on the core principle that "collecting original artwork should be for everyone," their goals are three-fold: to help collecting novices discover their taste; to make collecting original artwork more affordable and accessible; and to encourage budding artists to pursue their passion by offering a viable means of support. (In a sense, Three is the other side of the coin to Two. If you make art more accessible to a broader swathe of the population, you're going to make artist a more viable profession in the process.)

After taking a style quiz, you can rent your favorite pieces from their collection for a monthly fee starting at $25/month. Recommendations are prepared for you based on the results of your style quiz, but much like Pandora's "thumbs up"/"thumbs down" feature, Arsticle continues to refine your recommendations based on your feedback. You can keep the piece you rent for as long as you like (or at least as long as you keep paying your monthly rental fee...) If you fall in love with your rental, you can credit 50% of the rental fees towards the purchase price. If it's not for you, you send it back and try out another!

Based on my browsing today, it's a spectacular collection with an intelligently designed filter mechanism. You can search by size, shape, style, medium and more. Search update speed seems to be a smidge slow, but the results, when you get them, are worth the wait. Here are a few of the pieces I'm coveting:

via  Artsicle

2.  Saatchi's 12xTwelve

Just in time for the Christmas season, Saatchi is offering an exclusive collection of original artwork measuring 12"x12", as well as a series of prints in limited editions of 12. All 67 pieces in the collection were commissioned by Saatchi Gallery in London. Prices start at $100 as advertised, but be warned that they creep as high as $5,000. On the plus side, since each piece was commissioned by Saatchi's seasoned director Rebecca Wilson, there aren't any duds. I found so many of the pieces compelling that for my favorites reel, I really couldn't narrow it down any further than top nine. And even that was tough! Here are the ones that made the final cut:



 (Clockwise from top left)

  1. Space Cowboys II by Micosch Holland, Limited Edition Print - $100
  2. Prevention by Danny Olda, Original - $300
  3. NY 1222 by Jennifer Sanchez, Original - $600 (Limited Edition Prints for $100)
  4. Magritte's Great Escape by Joe Webb, Original - $1,700 (Limited Edition Prints for $200)
  5. Desert I by Leif Podhajsky, Limited Edition Print - $250
  6. Memory by Robin Cracknell, Limited Edition Print - $500
  7. I Want to Be a Superstar by Martyna Zoltascek, Original - $500 (Limited Edition Prints for $150)
  8. Night Moves by Damien Gilley, Original - $500
  9. The Food Market Jerusalem by Sasha Tamarin, Limited Edition Print - $300

3. Artist Rising

Artist Rising is Art.com's  kid sister site. Founded in 2007 on the principle of democratizing art, it's a venue for emerging and established contemporary artists to share their work with art enthusiasts with big dreams, but small to medium sized budgets. They carry both originals and prints.

I've spotted some really great pieces on Artist Rising, but as you would expect from a division of Art.com, the volume of pieces is pretty large. It's also not a curated collection like many of the sites Emily Henderson and I highlighted, so you definitely have to dig for the good stuff. (As far as I can gather, anyone at all can submit their work to the site.)

Browsing Artist Rising is kind of like going to Filene's Basement. You could come away with some real winners, but you've got to steel yourself to look at a lot of weird stuff first. And I mean weird. To the point where I recommend you browse at home. I love a bold, yet tasteful nude as much as the next art enthusiast, but some of the work on Artists Rising teeter preciously on the infamous "you know it when you see it" line. That said, just like Filene's Basement, the rock bottom prices justify the potentially eyeball-jarring hunt for diamonds in the rough. Here are few of my favorite gems:

  1. Boxer by Tara Benet, 20"x24" Giclee Print - $47.99
  2. Buffalo At Dusk by Cristi B., 27"x18" Original Mixed Media - $180*
  3. The White-Lettered Burger by Marcella Lassen, 20"x24" Giclee Print - $47.99
  4. August Moon by David Cramer, 11"x14" Photograph - $50*
  5. Wood Grain Deer by Peter Gebhardt, 16"x20" Original Digital Image - $60*
  6. Watercolor Landscape 301005 by Pol Ledent, 12.20"x16.14" Original Watercolor - $200*
  7. Picture Giraffe by Lisa Benoudiz, 19.68"x19.68" Original Painting - $770*
  8. July '04 by Kristin Cornig, 30"x22" Original Mixed Media - $200.00*
  9. Nude Study from Behind by Heather Castles, 12"x12" Original Painting by Heather Castles - $900*

* Price of original work listed. Prints also available at significantly lower price points.