By Jessica Baucom
You’re in that stage. It’s time to trade in your poster-pinning thumbtacks, but you’re not quite ready to invest in that beautifully-painted (not to mention beautifully-framed) oil by your favorite local artist. With a little help from student art shows and letterpress stationers, you’ll find there are plenty of ways to keep your walls sophisticatedly adorned without breaking the bank, nor your budget. Here’s how:
Some of my favorite items come from the free-thinking, unrestrained minds of students—and they’re usually affordable, to sweeten the deal. Locally, the University of Utah often holds student art sales at the end of each semester featuring awesome finds. In December, I picked up a print by emerging local talent Zane Lancaster for the low price of $20! A broader range of student art is continually displayed online at Ugallery. Here, you can search thousands of young artists’ work by genre, size, price, and even by school.
Above images, left to right: “Etame Postularia” by Melissa Grosjean, “Mockery” by Michael George, “Ice 4″ by Kaylie Abela
Paper & Fabrics:
I learned this trick from some highfalutin designers, so don’t worry about it not being legit. Use a simple black or white frame and lay a piece of interesting fabric or beautiful wrapping paper behind the glass where you would normally insert a photo. This works nicely for making a unique addition to an eclectic mix, or hung in a group with similar pieces.
Above images, left to right: Off-white Black Braid and Border Paper Brackets from Papersource.com, and textiles from IKEA.
Eatery as Art:
Some dishes are too cool to stay in the cupboard, and it’s these pieces that often come off as my favorite pieces of art—from plates to platters and dishes in all shapes and sizes. A simple plate hanger from the hardware store in the correct size is all you need to hang an heirloom plate passed down from your great-grandmother or a contemporary piece like a playful melamine tray.
Above images, left to right: Deer Tray by John Derian for Target, Small Square Plate by Cul de Sac, Sea Life side plate by Thomas Paul
Interesting in shape, color and content, a vintage map or two can make a quick fix for a blank wall space. Conduct a cinchy online search, or head to Sam Weller’s Bookstore (254 S. Main Street, Salt Lake City) where you’ll find a wide selection of affordable maps in a large room on the lower floor. If you have trouble locating this treasure trove, have a salesperson point it out for you. You’ll also find great maps a few blocks away at Ken Sanders Rare Books (268 S. 200 East, Salt Lake City), though they can be a bit more pricey.
Postcards & Greeting Cards:
Ever been so pleased with a cute card in the mail that you couldn’t throw it away? Here’s your chance to let that little token shine. Frame it just like you would a photograph and give it life beyond the mailbox. Or, if you’ve yet to receive that card, go ahead an indulge in the coveted letterpress stationery you’ve been eyeing. Twenty dollars won’t sound so bad when you consider what a pricey piece of art might cost in its stead.
Above images, left to right: “Cosmic Crochet Card” by Lart Cognac Berliner at LittleOtsu.com, “Signal Flags XO” by Black Pearl Press, “Ship Carte Postale” by John Derian
Yes, everyone needs one. No, they’re not typically viewed as part of the artistic sphere but with all the great options out there—not to mention the heavy emphasis on design—they might as well be. Plus, a cool calendar will add some character to your casual art gallery inspired by this post.
Above images, left to right: calendars from Muji, Office PDX and OrangeBeautiful
You’ll find simple, clean frames that you won’t tire of and which will mix well with others at places like Pottery Barn, Michael’s, IKEA and TJ Maxx.