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Thanks to guest blogger Michele Bolen, HGTV Director of Original Programming

A few years ago I attended a company-wide holiday party with over 500 employees in attendance. It was a dressy affair that many of us referred to as “the prom.” At some point I made a trip to the ladies room, only to be confronted with not one, but TWO coworkers wearing the exact same suit as mine! I had to laugh, because no matter how good I thought I looked when I left the house, I was now faced with the realization that I was unoriginal. The horror!


So why decorate your home with the same prints or posters that thousands of other people have as well? Especially since you can buy original works of art for the same price or — in many cases — much cheaper. One of my favorite resources is the ever-popular eBay. This online auction site is a treasure trove of the sublime to the ridiculous, depending on your taste.

For my own collection, I usually use search terms like “Eames-era painting” or “mid-century painting,” which have turned up some gems from the 1940s-60s.


This large portrait of comedy legend Henny Youngman made its way from his estate to mine, for the bargain bid of $19.99. I just loved the colors and the artist’s impressionistic style, and it’s certainly proved to be a great conversation starter.

I also found these paintings done by a wallpaper designer from the 1950s, which have the original penciled notes and studio stamp at the bottom.


These only cost $15-$30 apiece, so I bought six of them. I had three with similar color schemes framed, and now they make a great graphic statement in my office.

Buy what you love, and if you’re lucky you may even stumble upon a wise investment once in a while.


I splurged on this $200 painting of a little boy holding a sunflower, and later found the artist’s work going for $2,000 to $3,000 at several fine art galleries. Who knew?

Try using search terms such as:

  • vintage watercolor

  • architectural drawing
  • fashion illustration
  • figure study
  • vintage landscape, still life, or portrait
  • outsider art (Be careful — you might find a collage made of toenail clippings.)

For the serious bargain hunter, www.shopgoodwill.com has less traffic than eBay and even lower prices. It’s also an auction site so you’ll need to sign up first, but it’s free and only takes a few minutes. Check out the art section, then click on “paintings.” Most of these bids start around $10, but remember you will have to pay for shipping. Share your best sources for good, cheap art and your finds below. Happy hunting!



15 Responses

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