Art collecting used to be a pastime reserved for the independently wealthy. It was also intimidating and bewildering for those who don’t know abstract from modernist, or gouache from decoupage. Luckily for the careerist male looking to upgrade his decor from mass-produced Ikea prints to actual conversation pieces, curated websites have made it faster, simpler and more affordable for artists and buyers to find each other.
Without setting foot in a gallery, you can browse and purchase thousands of works of art, including paintings, drawings, photographs and prints — with prices starting under $20. (For an added charge, many sites also offer framing.) While doing so, you’ll learn about different art techniques and the creative minds behind the works.
There’s no need to decorate your whole living space at once. Take your time and choose only the art that speaks to you. Then arrange and re-arrange the works around your home until you like the result.
Take your pick from these recommended online art shops:
Shop for paintings, photos, drawings and multimedia from a large stable of artists, starting at $35.
Curator Jen Bekman’s formula: Limited editions x low prices + the Internet = art for everyone. Hundreds of fine-art and photo prints are priced at $20, $50 and $100. Each comes with a numbered certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.
The Working Proof
Eye-catching art prints with a purpose: part of the price ($30-$100) is given to the artist’s chosen charity. Beneficiaries include Doctors Without Borders, the Jane Goodall Institute and others.
A broad selection of pieces by artists from around the world, priced from $15 to over $1,000. Search by price, artist, country, theme or size.
Per the name, exclusively photographic art; from $25. Search a wide range of categories including “Art,” “Architecture” and “Photojournalism,” or browse by price or colour.
For those who like quirky, edgy illustrations. This popular Toronto boutique offers prints, posters and original art starting at $30. Featured artists include Kozyndan, Kidrobot and many others.
The 800-pound gorilla of websites featuring handmade goods. The selection is huge, though not curated. Plenty of gems here, but it takes time to find them.
Show your civic pride with an arty poster featuring your city’s neighbourhoods. If your hometown isn’t available, you can also pick from exciting destinations such as New York, San Fran and Paris.
Art Gallery of Ontario, Art Rental and Sales Gallery
Members of the venerable AGO can rent contemporary Canadian art for as low as $20 per month. Book a free consultation, then choose from 500-plus options. If you decide to buy the piece later, your rental fees will be credited toward the purchase price.
Image courtesy of Ork Posters.