Tips for Thrifting Vintage Art


Our homes are enriched by vintage art! I love vintage art and the stories that go with it. “Where do they find these great pieces?” is a question I am frequently asked. I have curated a wonderful collection of Printable Vintage Art for a while now. But I have some tips for you to help you start looking for your own treasures for your gallery wall, statement piece or home decor.

Original Art vs. print Art

I’m always on the lookout for original oil paintings or etchings…the older the better!

Here are some tips to help you spot original artwork

You can tell if your piece is original by looking at the textures.

Oil will have more texture than prints, but acrylic and watercolor can be harder to see with the naked eyes. Look for signatures and brushstrokes as well as markings at the back or front of the painting. To learn more about the artist, I love to googling their name. Is the canvas looking old? To find out the date the framing company was established, check the frame. These clues will help you determine if the piece is original and how old it is. This information can help you determine how much to pay for the work.

My experience is that I usually pay $20-$45 for smaller paintings and $80-$90 to buy larger ones. However, this can vary depending on where you live (I’m in Milwaukee). To establish your range, spend some time comparing the prices of different antique shops.

Art Prints

Framed prints of art are common. This can be difficult as the art will be printed on textured papers and may not look original. These pieces are sometimes purchased for Airbnbs as they look great and cost less. I would not pay more than $10 for an artwork print unless it was in a beautiful frame.

Don’t let a bad frame or mat deter you

Don’t let the frame stop you from loving a piece or art that you love. It is easy to remove the frame and replace it. You can also give the frame a boost by painting, sanding, staining or using one my favorite tools: Rub ‘n Buff.

Rub ‘n Buff can be applied to any surface, including wood and plastic. It creates a vintage look. It comes in a variety of beautiful gold colors that I love for frames. It gives the frame a more natural look than spray paint.

This was also what I did to a mirror recently! !

Paint the mat!

Don’t be afraid of doing some minor surgery to your art to get rid of the mat! Although it was fashionable to use bold colors for mats like green and maroon, I prefer a plain cream color. I was able to take out staples and nails to get rid of my beautiful art from the horrible mat.

You can either modify the mat to your liking or purchase a new one. Spray paint is a great option. For $3, I bought an old mat in bright green in a beautiful, large brass frame. I removed the mat and spray painted it with Krylon Almond Paint Paint. Then, I put it back into the frame. It was a great addition for the bathroom’s gallery wall and a great way to save money on framing digital art.

Another time I purchased a lovely etching of a woman that had a green mat. I took apart the frame and flipped the mat over to get a cream color. Then, I sealed it back up. Do not be afraid to look at the artwork and discover new ways to arrange them.

Sometimes, a piece or art can be glued to the mat. Although I have never been able salvage the art from this situation, I have used that mat for other purposes. Have some substitute art in case you decide to go this route. !

Find out what you’re looking for

My case is a mix of several projects. I am always looking for new art and will often buy vintage pieces. If you are looking for a specific project, you need to be clear about what you are trying to accomplish.

You can use the art to create a color scheme for your space.

This is how I’ve done it in the past. To decorate the room, I have centered it around a single piece of art and used colors from its palette. Other times, I have used a color swatch or a photograph of the rug in the space to match the art. This is how I tie rooms together.

Black & White art can be used in rooms that have bold colors.

Another thing to consider is how much color you have in your room. You might consider limiting the boldness of your artwork if you choose a bolder wall color. In these cases, I like to use black and white etchings (like in the bathroom below) as well as art that uses similar colors in muted tones (like in the office below). They can be of people, cities, landscapes or other subjects.

These etchings were perfect for my bathroom’s eggplant-colored walls. These etchings are also great for decorating a blank wall in your house where you don’t want to create a new color scheme. These black and white etchings are always in my possession. I know that they will find a home in my home.