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Ebay Art
October 1, 2008 3:15 PM   Subscribe

"What would you say if I told you that I filled my entire living room with completely original works of art for less than $300?" Andrea Dickson from Wise Bread has found an unlikely -- though, the more you think about it, almost obvious -- place to find original art from new artists: Ebay. If you can filter through the crapload of "artistic nudes", there are plenty of gems, and usually at buyers' market prices. And, as Andrea's mother mused, when it comes to decorating the house, it beats buying mass-produced art from Costco, which is about as original as a Big Mac.
posted by chakalakasp (35 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not a bad idea, but this struck me as one blog post that really really needs a bunch of photo examples. Without that it's basically just "You know, you can buy paintings on Ebay!"
posted by echo target at 3:27 PM on October 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Plenty of comics art up on EBay too. It's pretty much a secondary source of income for some comics folks.
posted by Artw at 3:29 PM on October 1, 2008


Frankly, it can be more cost effective to browse flickr and find pictures you like if you have access to a decent printer. It comes out to about five bucks a pop. Not knocking the painters—a lot of them are better than popular, big-name artists—but it's something to keep in mind.
posted by sonic meat machine at 3:30 PM on October 1, 2008


From what I hear, you can do lots of things with eBay.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 3:30 PM on October 1, 2008


Do you work for Ebay? 2 out of 6 of your FPP's have been about Ebay, and this one came right on the heels of a negative Ebay post.
posted by stbalbach at 3:30 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've bought art on eBay. A few times, actually.

For some reason it just never occurred to me that my purchases were newsworthy.
posted by spilon at 3:33 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


The one example was not too informative and her favorite artist paints like a third grader. I would like to see pics of her art covered living room. It probably looks like she did it for under $300. The idea is cool but most original pieces I find that are wall-worthy usually cost more than three hundred each.
posted by podwarrior at 3:35 PM on October 1, 2008


This thread is useless without pictures.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:35 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Frankly, it can be more cost effective to browse flickr and find pictures you like if you have access to a decent printer. It comes out to about five bucks a pop. Not knocking the painters—a lot of them are better than popular, big-name artists—but it's something to keep in mind.

I disagree -- to a point. For one thing, printing out photos you find on Flickr, unless they're licensed Creative Commons, is a pretty crappy thing to do to the artist. We're not talking about rock bands, here, we're talking about Joe Q Artist. A lot of Flickr users set things to Creative Commons and could care less if you print their stuff out, but on the flip side, a sizeable number of Flickr users are professionals who do not want you printing their stuff out a license accordingly. Hopefully, if you're going to print your own photos, you at least are only printing CC stuff.

Another point I'd make is that the stuff you find on Flickr is often intentionally low resolution. Unless you have a photo of around at least 3,000 pixels wide, you're not going to get an art-print level reproduction of it at 8 1/2 by 11. Actually, very few inkjets out there match the quality of actual photo paper and very few inks hold up over long periods of time, so unless you have a very high end photo printer and archival inks, you're better off getting it on real photo paper. And, of course, your inkjet print has zero chance of appreciating over time, whereas I suspect there are probably a very, very small number of artists selling on Ebay who's work will one day be worth significantly more than it is at the moment.

The upside to the Flickr route is that it's cheap and easily replaceable. If you get bored of a photo, you can just pop it out and chuck it in the bin and replace it with whatever new strikes your fancy, for almost no cost.
posted by chakalakasp at 3:43 PM on October 1, 2008


I buy original works of art from local artists. I've spent more getting stuff framed than on the art itself.
posted by sciurus at 3:43 PM on October 1, 2008


And no, for the record, I don't work for Ebay. I work for a newspaper.
posted by chakalakasp at 3:46 PM on October 1, 2008


I have about 20 pieces from ebay. A few folk artists that I bought are now going for much more. I don't really look for names, just for what I like. Ebay is a great place for that.
posted by pearlybob at 3:46 PM on October 1, 2008


Much easier to browse through the photographs and artwork at somewhere like redbubble.
posted by gomichild at 3:46 PM on October 1, 2008


Ha, sucker! I did that for the cost of a box of crayons.
posted by stavrogin at 4:03 PM on October 1, 2008


Big deal. I filled my liquor cabinet with $300 worth of booze and made my own fucking art, which turned out better than a lot of this stuff. Texture, man. It's all about texture.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:04 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Or you could go to some local galleries and pick up work by local struggling artists, who you might run into in the coffee shop someday. No worries about it getting damaged in shipping, either. Protip: if there's a piece hung that you want that's out of your price range, pick up the artist's card and contact them after the show; galleries take big chunks and we might be willing to let it go for less just to get it out of our damn house and have a chance of recouping the framing costs of our show.

If you're in the Boston area, I just had a big show and what didn't sell is cluttering up my living room right now.
posted by egypturnash at 4:07 PM on October 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


For one thing, printing out photos you find on Flickr, unless they're licensed Creative Commons, is a pretty crappy thing to do to the artist. We're not talking about rock bands, here, we're talking about Joe Q Artist.

I agree it is unfair to the artist, but I have to ask, why should artists get more respect than rock bands?
posted by IndigoJones at 4:21 PM on October 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I agree it is unfair to the artist, but I have to ask, why should artists get more respect than rock bands?

Personally, I don't think that they should. However, one of the more common arguments that people make in regards to why torrenting music isn't a big deal is that most torrented music is from popular bands who are "rich enough already". Regardless of how you feel about that argument, I think most people would agree that there are very few photographers on Flickr who are so rich off their work that the supposed reasoning behind such an argument would even apply.
posted by chakalakasp at 4:29 PM on October 1, 2008


Why isn't "artistic nudes" a link?
posted by DU at 4:39 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Or you could go to some local galleries and pick up work by local struggling artists, who you might run into in the coffee shop someday.

In my experience, even struggling artists want to be well paid for the few pieces they do sell.
posted by smackfu at 5:01 PM on October 1, 2008


You know how my father filled his house with really cool original art?

Sometime in the 80s he settled a strangers tab at a bar, less than $20 USD of today, and the guy insisted on paying him back with a small painting he had in his backpack. The stranger became a well known engraver, and that small painting is worth a lot more than $20 now.

It stood at this for 20 years, and in 2003 or 2004, my father moved to a town full of artists, and he and some friends opened a small non-profit bar, just a place for them to hang out, play music and get drunk. He hung the small painting behind the bar, and started telling people the story behind it. First a painter opened a tab with a painting instead of a credit card, then this Italian designer started trading sketches on napkins for tequila shots, and before the bar closed in 2006, they had a lot of art to pick from.

My father considers keeping artists drunk his civic duty.
posted by dirty lies at 5:07 PM on October 1, 2008 [22 favorites]


For one thing, printing out photos you find on Flickr, unless they're licensed Creative Commons, is a pretty crappy thing to do to the artist.

I think your telling people how not to enjoy artists' published work is a pretty crappy thing to do to the artists.

Do you believe that it is illegal to print © photos from the web and hang them on a wall in your home? What if, instead of being printed, they were put on a wall via a web browser displayed on a projector or large LCD? Do you think that would also be infringement and/or a "crappy thing to do"?

How long (or how many times) do you estimate, chakalakasp, that the rightsholder of an average "all rights reserved" photo on flickr intends for us to be allowed to view their work without purchasing a license?
posted by finite at 5:15 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: cheap and easily replaceable
Metafilter: often intentionally low resolution
Metafilter: Regardless of how you feel
Metafilter: And no, for the record, I don't work
Metafilter: It's pretty much a secondary source of income for some comics folks.
Metafilter: This thread is useless


There's my art. Where's my 300 bucks?
posted by blue_beetle at 5:20 PM on October 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


I have seen some folk art that I really like there. I'm just wary about sending money for art I haven't seen in person.

Anyone seen any good superhero-themed art there?
posted by Kickstart70 at 6:09 PM on October 1, 2008


I started the movement away from prints and reproductions and towards original art a few years ago. I've acquired pieces through Craigslist, eBay, and via friends. I have some art by known artists like Lynda Barry, street artists like Dutch Benendez, long-laboring artists like Tobias Mostel, and unknown students. I've also spent less than $300... but there's a soul to these pieces that I never found in all of my pretty prints and reproductions. They have a life and a light, and I find myself drawn in all the time. It's sort of like the difference between eating a real apple vs a green apple Jolly Rancher.
posted by kimdog at 6:17 PM on October 1, 2008


Ew, those icky nudes. You know, with bodies and stuff. Like hooters just hanging out there! And some of them even show wee-wees! We're so much more grown up than that.
posted by telstar at 6:26 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Do you believe that it is illegal to print © photos from the web and hang them on a wall in your home? What if, instead of being printed, they were put on a wall via a web browser displayed on a projector or large LCD? Do you think that would also be infringement and/or a "crappy thing to do"?

Probably perfectly legal, though I'm no IP attorney. Part of me thinks I'm wrong, as I know if you go to any pro photo lab with a digital copy of a photo of high quality, they will often refuse to print it until you sign a form verifying that you own the copyright to the image. I know the 4 prong fair use test cares whether it's for commercial use, but it also cares if the photo impacts the market value of the art. If you're printing something that's for sale, you're depriving the artist of money for a product. In other words, that kind of law interpretation is way over my head -- if anyone has any case law they can point to, I'd be interested in reading it.

Still, that's not the point -- I didn't say it was ILLEGAL to print out non-CC photos found online, I said it was a crappy thing to do. If someone decides not to offer the CC license and only supplies an 800 px wide image, then that's a pretty clear signal that they'd rather you not print the photo out and stick it on your wall.

How long (or how many times) do you estimate, chakalakasp, that the rightsholder of an average "all rights reserved" photo on flickr intends for us to be allowed to view their work without purchasing a license?

I suspect every artist has different standards for such things; since no licenses are attached to non-CC images on Flickr, that's not spelled out anywhere. However, most people who don't give a crap what you do with their images attach a CC license, so the fact that someone doesn't should be a clue.
posted by chakalakasp at 6:34 PM on October 1, 2008


I'd say welcome to 1996, or '97 maybe.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:49 PM on October 1, 2008


Protip: if there's a piece hung that you want that's out of your price range, pick up the artist's card and contact them after the show; galleries take big chunks and we might be willing to let it go for less just to get it out of our damn house and have a chance of recouping the framing costs of our show.

SRSLY.

I'd be happy to negotiate the prices on any of my work just to get it OUT OF MY DAMN HOUSE. At the same time, I much prefer Etsy to eBay.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:21 PM on October 1, 2008


My father considers keeping artists drunk his civic duty.

Nice little story, dirty lies.
posted by Harald74 at 2:24 AM on October 2, 2008


Or you could go to some local galleries and pick up work by local struggling artists, who you might run into in the coffee shop someday.

Or hit up the degree shows at your nearest art schools. I always think that, when you buy a piece of art you like, you're also buying into that artist's practice, and one of the most satisfying aspects of owning a piece of art is following what that artist does, talking to them about their work, and building up some sort of relationship with them and their work, not just with the piece you buy (ie, though I might have one piece by a given artist, every time I look at it, it offers a reminder of the work they've done before and since). It's also good to have a relationship with gallerists and artists - over time you can wangle discounts, be loaned work while you make up your mind about whether to buy it, make studio visits, and get tipped off to work before it goes on show.

I doubt you'd get all that by winning an eBay auction.

Not to mention that if you buy art without actually seeing it first, you're completely fucking mad.

Also, from a disgustingly cynical point of view, if you're buying $300 of art on eBay, rather than from galleries, it's likely always going to be worth $300 or less, not because it's necessarily worse than art bought in galleries, but because the value of art as a commodity is set to a large extent by galleries and auction houses. (Maybe not just cynical - it's easy to make mistakes and buy things that after a couple of years you really tire of, so being able to sell at a profit and turn one piece into two new pieces is a good thing, really.)
posted by jack_mo at 5:45 AM on October 2, 2008


Also, from a disgustingly cynical point of view, if you're buying $300 of art on eBay, rather than from galleries, it's likely always going to be worth $300 or less

I'm not sure that follows. Previous posts have said that artists are willing to sell their paintings well below gallery prices if you call them, just to get rid of them. Why wouldn't they do the same on eBay?
posted by smackfu at 7:00 AM on October 2, 2008


I prefer to buy art from small local galleries. I've not looked at ebay though.

and the flickr photo idea. um one I've not seen any photos on flickr i'd want on my walls and 2. they are usually ony 1280pix or so which will only print well at smaller than A4... which doesnt' really look so good.
posted by mary8nne at 8:03 AM on October 2, 2008


My mom bought a bunch of paintings off of ebay to decorate her house, but I think she paid around 200-300 for each one.
posted by daHIFI at 8:38 AM on October 2, 2008


"Not to mention that if you buy art without actually seeing it first, you're completely fucking mad."

I've bought lots of art online from Novica, which is now affiliated with National Geographic. I've had an excellent experience buying from them. Of the dozen or so pieces that I've bought over the years, only a couple were duds. I chose artists from Ghana.

My beautiful, original art collection is one of the things people always comment on when visiting me. I've never thought to look on eBay but Dickson's favorite was awful, like bad coffee shop art.
posted by shoesietart at 1:05 PM on October 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


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