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Hate the plain walls in your apartment but feel a little paralyzed when it comes to making decorating decisions? It’s a common affliction in NYC, where many post-war and new apartments look like white boxes.
You probably don’t want to buy the same framed print at the same stores that everyone shops at—you want something with personality. Or maybe you don’t want to spend a lot of money, or don’t know where, or how, to shop for original, affordable art.
The good news is that you live in an art mecca and you can easily find unique artwork, both online and offline, for an affordable price. Whether it’s a custom-framed print of an Andy Warhol silkscreen or an original painting by an emerging artist selling his work on Houston Street, there’s options for New Yorkers at many price ranges.
Here are six places, including online retailers, marketplaces, art fairs, and street vendors, where you can snag one-of-a-kind wall art for your NYC apartment.
Society6 sells original work from emerging artists as well as prints from famed artists like Rothko and Mattisse. Each print is available in an array of sizes, available framed or unframed, and if go for framing, there’s several styles and colors to choose from. The pricing depends on your customization, but you can easily order a framed print for under $100.
Minted sell the work of artists from all 50 states and over 100 countries. Artists submit their work, the community votes, and then Minted sells the winner’s work. Minted takes customization up a notch—you can choose the size, frame, type of glass, and whether you want the artist's signature. If choose to get it framed, it can be pricey.
Etsy is a staple of the online independent artist world, where you can buy handmade and original everything. And when it comes to wall art, there’s just as many options. You can also custom-order original work from the artists. Think: an artsy typography map of your hometown or prints of zoo animals with your newborn’s name and birth date. When you buy original art on Etsy, you’re buying directly from the artist.
When it comes to NYC art fairs, there’s Frieze, The Armory Show, and more. Many sell fine art with high price-tags, but if you’re serious about collecting, this the chance to score a deal because you’re dealing directly with the gallery’s reps. For those of us who can’t unload hundreds of thousands on art, there’s the Affordable Art Fair. It’s a ticketed event that comes to NYC twice a year, with prices ranging from $100 to $10,000. If you buy online, art is priced in British pounds, and you have to pay for shipping from the U.K.
Artist street vendors
If you take a walk around Manhattan, you’ll find street vendors selling many kinds of art. The best places to look are outside of museums, and along Madison and Lexington avenues on the Upper East Side, and in Soho. While some are vendors selling prints, many are working artists selling original work. Prices will vary; I once asked an artist selling mixed-media collages in Soho how much he wanted for a large work. His price was $175, proving you can get a deal for something special that you won’t come across in your friend’s apartments.
Art school shows/fundraisers
Young artists from around the world move to NYC to study at one of the city’s many art schools and lot of students sell their art to pay for their expenses. Most art schools host open studios and fundraisers year round, where you can buy affordable art—and who knows, perhaps that student will be the next de Kooning and it’ll be worth millions one day.