Art is an amazing concept. It is the essence of pure expression that is enjoyed in little else in life. Whether your art is a magnificent oil painting that stretches from wall to wall, or a plate of cream filled tarts, it is something that you use to express yourself.
In most senses of the word though, traditional art is something along the lines of painting, sculptures, or drawings, partly because it is in line with tradition and partly because they are some of the best ways of expressing yourself.
Yet, even with art being one of the most human pursuits, purchasing said art is not a hobby for the struggling or the strapped for cash. Art costs money to make, a lot of the time.
Brushes, paints, canvases, all of these cost money and in the past, this meant that successful artists made art for patrons to keep themselves afloat. Nowadays, it is still often the extraordinarily wealthy who buy art, it’s just that you can do so with the click of a button.
So, if you love art but can’t shell out much cash, where do you go? Where can you buy cheap art online? Today, we will look at cheap art online and just where you can buy some for yourself.
Novica is an e-commerce marketplace website that was founded in 1999 by a group of students from Stanford University, Roberto Milk, Andy Milk, and Charles Hachtmann, along with human rights officer, Armenia Nercessian de Oliveira. The idea was to sell handcrafted goods to different customers around the globe.
What makes Novica unique is where it gets the art from. The company is partnered with National Geographic, and it scours the world for the best artwork it can find.
This artwork is sourced directly from artists and frequently a unique piece that defines that artist’s culture and beliefs.
These artists and their pieces can be from anywhere. Some have come from rural villages atop the Andes mountains, others have come from the pure white beaches of Bali, and others still found in a tenement flat in south London.
What’s great about Novica as well is that the artists gain the majority of the profits. The company is insistent on being a fair-trade company and as such artists are paid fairly for each of their pieces sold, with Novica only taking a small amount of the profits.
In total, the sales made on the Novica website and by the company itself mean that over $100 million have been sent to the artists who work with Novica across the globe.
It is a great way to receive a handmade item at not too high a price. While some of the paintings do inch towards the $1000 dollar range, most are below $200 and there are quite a few that cost only about $30 to $40, which makes them easily within most people’s price range.
The other great thing about Novica is that you can find out about the artist. Each piece of art has a little biographical piece that comes with it that explains about the artist and what the money you spent is going towards.
For example, you may purchase an abstract painting from Zambia and find out that the artwork is paying for a family’s education or aiding in their business venture.
Due to the sometimes rural or difficult nature of the areas the art is coming from, Novica handles the shipping, and they give you the shipping prices and time frames of how long the shipment will take.
Since the company is handling this, the artwork is shipped and packaged properly, and you should receive your product unharmed.
If it doesn’t arrive in a good state though, then there is a 60-day return policy in place as well, so there should be no further issues.
2. Metropolitan Museum of Art
This may be a shock entry onto this list, but the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is a fantastic place to purchase art online. The Met was founded in 1870 and has over 5000 years’ worth of art history within its glass paneled cases. The Met is an open education institution determined to share art with millions of people, who would otherwise never see it.
The Met is unique among huge art museums in that it values so much more than traditionally appealing art pieces.
It sees the art in all things and has huge sections on fashion through the ages, books with exquisite artistic detailing, and even home decor that would have been used back in the day. All these pieces have replicas and prints that are available to buy as well, with the Met’s shop being a veritable smorgasbord of different things to buy.
The best part of all this is the prints that they have available for sale. You can buy a print of a classic artwork that you’ve been dying to own without having to actually go through the hassle and expense of getting the original. You can even customize your order with a specific frame that the Met will apply to your print.
Due to the Met making mostly prints of these artworks, unfortunately you don’t get to own the real thing and the artist in question doesn’t get paid for the print. However, the fact that you could own a print of a Picasso is pretty neat.
The prices of the Met’s prints are also very reasonable, with the price scaling with the size of the print and the frame, if you decide to add a frame. The smallest starts around $30 without a frame and can go up to around $500 with a frame, but it is rare to get prints higher than that.
For Americans, the shipping is quite reasonable at a flat rate of $7.95 for any of the states or territories within the United States, but as you get further abroad the rate goes higher.
For Canadians, it is a flat rate of $34.95 and for anywhere outside these two places, there is a variable and higher cost depending on postage.This is unfortunate for art lovers in other countries, but the Met is in the US, and it still has to keep itself afloat.
Artnet is all about art. It is the go-to online resource and market for the international art market. It is one of the best places to research art and then either buy or sell it.
The company was founded in 1989 by Pierre Sernet, a French collector who also developed software to let images of art be associated with market prices. The idea of the company at the time, and still to this day, is to make the art world more transparent and bring it to a wider audience.
Over time, this dream has become a reality, as many new artists discovered their passion on this website.
What makes Artnet a great marketplace is the size and the scope of the website. It is linked to 1800 auction houses and buys and sells art for more than 340,000 different artists.
The sheer scale of the operation means that no matter your niche taste or budget, you should be able to find a piece for yourself.
This gigantic range of items means that there will be a gigantic range of prices, with some items being modest and reasonable at about $30 and others being insanely expensive and sometimes even in the millions of dollars.
So, if you are on a budget or are flush with cash, it doesn’t matter, as you can always find a piece for yourself.
The problem with Artnet is the searching itself. This is partially thanks to Artnet’s largest strength, as unfortunately its sheer size makes it difficult to navigate. When you type in an artist’s name, all potential results will come up and if the artist has a fairly common name, you are in trouble.
Thousands of pieces will appear, and you will have to scroll through each one to find the piece you are looking for.
On other websites, you could filter the results based on pricing, but for Artnet, this is not possible. The filtering feature does not have a price filter, leaving you to scour endlessly until you find the artwork you want.
While the payment system is actually concise and clear on what needs to be done after an item is won in an auction, the shipping leaves a little to be desired. It is up to the buyer to deal with all shipping arrangements, even though they are not in possession of the artwork.
Normally, you would expect a little help from either the company or the seller, but Artnet have made it clear that they are a middleman in all aspects.
4. Museum of Modern Art Design Store
The Museum of Modern Art is an incredibly contemporary institution. It was founded in 1929 and since then has risen to become one of the most visited museums in the world today.
The MoMA plays a key role in the development of modern art and always tries to collect what it can to put on display for the public. It acts as the somewhat more hip version of the Met’s classical styling.
The MoMA is not a place to go if you are looking to purchase classical and traditional art pieces, yet it is the perfect place to buy any quirky or contemporary piece that you can get your hands on.
One thing the MoMA does well is to not limit itself to a single trend or piece. Instead, it dabbles in anything that pushes the boundaries of art. There are big exhibits on architectural design and home decor, which the MoMA also incorporates into its shop.
You could feasibly decorate your entire house with the items you can find in the design store, from tables and chairs to accessories and office supplies, all of these pieces are considered art by the MoMA.
This does not mean that other more traditional pieces of art are not available, the MoMA has a wide selection of prints to purchase as well.
The Design store is actually quite large, and you could have a hard time finding what you want if you are not careful. However, like the designers they display in the museum, the MoMA have thought of an elegant solution to this problem.
Not only are the tabs broken down into standard categories, they also update the website per season, with bestsellers, with special creators they enjoy, they keep the website up to date to save you the hassle.
The prices at the MoMA are very reasonable, and generally you can get most items at the store without going into the triple digits, with a lot of the prints sitting at between $10 to $30.
Other items that include more material, like chairs, are going to be more expensive, but still not unreasonable.
For shipping the MoMA offers a flat rate of $7.95 for any shipping within the US, excluding Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico which all have a flat rate of $22.95.
Still, if you are a member and order anything over $35, then all shipping is free to any state in America, excluding once again the three named above.
5. Saatchi Art
The last entry on this list may confuse some people. Saatchi Art is an online marketplace that also serves as an online art gallery and a network for artists to convene and sell their pieces.
It is probably one of the most popular places to buy artwork online, partially because it portrays itself as a gallery like institution and maintains a high standard.
The reason this entry may confuse people, is because Saatchi Art is known to come with a price tag. Pieces can go for a mind-bogglingly high price on this website, and it can feel somewhat like people are being priced out of the market a bit.
Yet, if you apply the filters, especially the $500 or less filter, when searching, you should be able to find pieces that are reasonably priced.
The reason for the price tag is the effort Saatchi put into their company. All pieces that are on display on Saatchi Art are seen, reviewed, and categorized by a curator.
They make sure that only worthy pieces appear on the site and if they find any artworks that they think go above and beyond, then those pieces end up in the Saatchi catalog, which freely advertises them.
Saatchi is good for finding young or obscure artists and helping them get a leg up in a fairly cutthroat industry. This, along with the shipping cost being included in the price of the pieces, means you should have no qualms in purchasing a few pieces.
The one issue strangely is the shipping, as even though Saatchi will cover the cost, it is up to the artist to handle the shipping.
As such, you could be waiting a while for your artwork to arrive, maybe days, maybe weeks. This is not ideal, especially considering you may have paid a high amount for the art work.
Art is a tricky thing to buy, though not for its unavailability or its difficulty in shipping. No, the reason art is difficult to buy is the expense of art itself. Some art can be cheap, but a lot of high quality artwork is very expensive, and so many people are automatically priced out of buying art.
But, artists and art aficionados want art to be readily available and as long as they can live off the proceeds, they are happy to sell at reasonable prices. It is just knowing where to look to find these prices.
There are many websites that offer cheap artwork for this reason and as long as you do some research, they are easy to find.