We all want original artwork in our house; its a piece no one else has. However, without knowledge about how to paint or do mosaic tile, this can be difficult and costly. The answer is that you want to find local artists who haven;t quite “hit it big” yet. Artists like these are everywhere, and finding one who is willing to help you create something great and customized for your home. This way, you not only get exactly what you want, but you will have a degree of creative input on it.
While it is easy to search Google or the local yellow pages, there are cheaper options. My favorite solution is going to local colleges. Simply calling an art professor at the local college will give you all the information you need. Toward the end of the semesters, art schools usually have a showcase with the students and the portfolio projects they created over the last 15 weeks. These art shows (usually without the wine and over-inflated egos of typical art shows) will give you a look at their work and usually even a chance to meet the artist. From here it is simply having a discussion.
Most college artists will be willing to work on something in your house for the cost of supplies and a little walking around cash. How much “walking around cash” depends on how detailed the work is, but think about $25 per hour for labor for your typical college student. Obviously something that looks like a Monet will be more intensive than something done by Space Invader, so be a decent human being and toss him/her a few extra bucks.
Another idea is to look at your local coffee shops. Many bohemian style cafes support local artists by displaying and/or selling their artwork on the wall. Artists get a venue to display and sell their work, the coffee shop doesn’t have to shell out for wall art and may take a cut of whatever sells, so its usually a win/win relationship. If you see something you like on the wall, ask about it. Simply ask for the manager when it is not overly hectic. It is either for sale (Isn’t everything for the right price) or they may know the artist. Simply look around for bohemian style coffee shops. These are places with essentially the same menu as Starbucks but a less corporate feel.
One more option is local art supply shops. Once again, local art might be on display, but not as often as in coffee shops. Art stores have people coming in who want to create art. If you can make it yourself, you wouldn’t need to find an artist, so finding it on the walls will be less common. Talking to the manager can point you in the right direction. He will probably know the local artistic scene rather well since there is probably only one or two shops in your neighborhood. The manager, once again can point you toward an artist who does the type of work you are looking for. One caveat is that you once again want a mom and pop art supply store, not a corporate one. The manager of a Jo Ann Fabric or a Michael’s will not have the same personal relationships with artists the way a small 1000 square foot retailer will.
The last option is the internet. I have been a long standing fan of Deviant Art. Many of the artists on DA are willing to do commission works, so the issue is just finding an artist whose work you like. There are only two issues here. The first is that the artist you like could be anywhere from down the street to halfway around the world. If you want a mural, you will probably have to shell out for a plane ticket. If you want a canvas painting, you will have to pay shipping. This does not include the supplies and the “walking around cash” you will have to pay them. The second issue is that these artists have usually already been “discovered” so to speak. Deviant Artists like =agnes-cecile or ‘vhm-alex will cost more than your local college junior, but it may be worth it.
No matter what, you want your MAN-LAIR to reflect who you are, so the big advantage to finding a local artist is that you get a say in what he creates. You are not constricted by what posters Spencer’s has or what happens to be on the wall of the local gallery. You are simply limited by the creativity of both yourself and the artist you hire. Commissioning a piece means that YOU ARE THE CUSTOMER. While you probably want to give him/her some creative license, you get final say as to whether you like it or not.
One more note, don’t be a dick about it. Don’t complain about a single leaf in a tree and be sure to offer him/her something to eat and drink if they are working in your house.