Entertainment

How To Find Cool, Expensive-Looking Wall Art for Cheap

From statement mirrors to "wall rugs" to vintage Japanese posters, here are 15 shortcuts to good taste that won't break the bank.
MF
New York, US
February 12, 2021, 4:29pm
Wall art home decor
Composite image by VICE Staff

As our avatars idle between winter quar and a (hopefully) more vaccinated spring, we’ve developed a hellfire thirst for new stuff. But not just any stuff; we’re trying to make more regenerative purchases for our home spaces, and the occasional novelty joy of, say, a dog treadmill vetted by 2 Chainz. Case in point: DIY activities that turn our slop life into aesthetic clout (see: spray foam mirrors), tempered with a happy submission to reimagining our living spaces as a place suitable for functional adults and maybe even joining the cult of fancy hand soaps

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Next up, however, is a step we’ve been dreading: wall art. Not because there’s less of it out there, but because it’s usually a pricier investment than a fresh beanie. And unlike a beanie, we can’t squash it into a drawer in good conscience whenever we’re over it. Nor can we outrun it if we hang it, because every spot on a wall is front-and-center of somewhere. Enough! For the love of Michael Shannon, when will we stop framing record covers of Out of Step, or buying those vintage textbook-inspired botanical posters that Gen Z TikTok has aptly called out as the “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters of our time? Time to bury ‘em, alongside our 2013 triangle tattoos and papier-mâché deer heads. 

Lest our eyeballs become pickled by the same-old-same-old, we’ve found you a bunch of vibey affordable wall art that doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars (Society6, for one, is having a big sale right now), and will leave your buds none the wiser. We’ve got cinema-centric pieces to replace our bong-water-soaked Scarface poster; Op-Art lithographs for the adult Deadheads, and artisanal mirrors cool enough to both enhance and distract from our faces—and beyond! Here are our favorite tips, tricks, and finds for jazzing up your personal quarantine hamster cage. 


You’re a straight male skater with one painted fingernail

Wonky Smiley

Photo: Society6

...and you probably can’t be bothered with framing. (Honestly, same.) This smiley by Jimmy Raines not only comes pre-matted and framed, ripe for hanging beside your floor-bed, but its wonky face speaks so eloquently, while saying nothing at all, about how fried our brains are RN.

Wonky Smiley Face, $47.99 $28.79 at Society6

The one that screams, “rare edition”

Taxi Driver Japanese Poster

Photo: Amazon

Well. We were not expecting this flex from Amazon, but here we are, floating past page after page of original and reprinted old-school Japanese movie posters that include, but are most definitely not limited to Taxi Driver, Stand By Me, The Holy Mountain, and Robocop 2. Our end game is obviously to find Zardoz or The Baby Boss, in no particular order. This is the gateway drug to spending hundreds of dollars on a bespoke hand-painted Ghanaian movie poster.

Taxi Driver Japanese Poster, $15 at Amazon

One for your straight-edge hardcore vegan bud

Victory Tattoo Days of Old Framed Art Print

Photo: Socety6

Hot tip: All the classic flash tattoos that could live on your arm can always just chill on your wall (until you know if you’re a forever horseshoe or snake-wrapped skull). There’s a lot of thought packed into this print, which is also made on eco-friendly, 100% cotton-scrap and archival paper. 

Victory Tattoo Days of Old Framed Art Print, $150.99 $90.59 at Society6

You identify with one or more characters from Rocko’s Modern Life

Blue Splash Wavy Mirror

Photo: Etsy

A mirror adds visual interest to a wall without asking too much of anyone intellectually, and this 90s-inspired mirror has energy for the days when we just don’t. It’s also handmade out of hemp, foam, and a bunch of other stuff we would've stuffed into a bottle rocket as a pre-teen, so it won’t hang too heavy on your wall.

Unique Mirrors Blue Splash, $75 at Etsy

You used to make zines and no one is going to forget it

Surrealist Pass Art Print

Photo: Society6

You did the best collage work out of everyone in your anarchist food co-op back in the day, but now you’re ready to hand over the snipping work to a profesh like Mitch Meseke, who sure knows how to drape an artistic nude over a mountain. Bonus: His section is currently like 40% off on Society6.

Surrealistic Pass, $18.99 $11.39 at Society6

A mirror for an understated statement

Asymmetrical Wall Mirror

Photo: Wayfair

This one’s for those who want to fill the void without cluttering their space. Wayfair is having a wumbo President’s Day sale, and amidst the throngs of merch that wants us to live, laugh, and love, there are some seriously good pieces for a fraction of what you’d find at swanky stores. It’s also ready to hang right out of the box. 

Klaudia Frameless Asymmetrical Wall Mirror, $100 $73.99 at Wayfair 

The Vibin’ Bart wall rug

Vibin Bart Tufted Rug

Photo: Etsy

Everything is better as a rug. We don’t exactly know how or why (seeking an added element of warmth?), but all those 1970s swingers hit an aesthetic goldmine when they started shag carpeting everything they could get their hands on. Now, TikTokers and Etsy artists have been riding the weaving wave, big time. Bart Simpson injects this one with a pop art sense of 90s nostalgia. 

OatlyCloudTufting Vibin’ Bart, $173.31 at Etsy

If you love to start alien conspiracy theories on Reddit

The Power Op-Art Lithograph 1970s

Photo: eBay

The cool thing about eBay is that it's like online shopping at the biggest thrift store on the planet, and among the trash there are endless treasures at all different price points. This piece also kicks off our smattering of Op-Art, which is selling all over the web, very in-trend, and a forever-key to our sativa hearts. Case in point: the only way we want to start our day is by waking up, and getting our face punched into the sun by a pyramid from 1979. This lithographic, it hugs our favorite end of the retro color spectrum, that brown-gold-honey-dirt dream. It’s also signed by the artist, Grace Alhades Sherman.

“The Power” Lithograph, $124.95 at eBay

You donate to the Surfrider Foundation

Op-Art Serigraph 1970s

Photo: eBay

It’s a globe. It’s a gigabyte. It’s an Op-Art tongue, slowly lapping up the ocean of our collective consciousness. Whatever it is, it can definitely be sold through the dynamism of this cool and collected 1970s serigraph by Peter Foeller. 

Op-Art Serigraph, $125 at eBay

You’re an eclipse chaser

vasarely.jpg

Everyone these days is digging Op-Art (cue House of Sunny, Lisa Says Gah, street wear from Bodega) which we clearly love, too. But if you’re looking for a big, OG Op-Art name like Victor Vasarley, try heading to the bargain bin of sites like 1stDibs that do good on their vetting for pieces like this lithograph from 1973. 

Planetary Folklore IX, $75 at 1stDibs

Just give your own film some TLC

Modern Art Gallery Print

The year is 2030. Siri has a face, and the Super Bowl is sponsored by SpaceX. “What a simpler time that was,” your friends say as they saunter into your party, admiring a sleek, framed photograph above your tattered Nugget. Little do they know, you just gave one of your digital photos a 35mm-ish finish and blew it up to 16x20 inches on Shutterfly, then threw that thing on your wall—because why can’t you be the artiste?

Modern Gallery Art Print, $124.98 $62.50 at Shutterfly

You have Fela Kuti on repeat 

Modern Africa Barbershop Poster

Photo: Etsy

We’re wary about buying posters (what if they’re pixelated?), but this one by the Black-owned shop Don’t Sleep Interiors is of museum quality. Most importantly, it does a bunch of impressive multi-tasking; not only does it pay homage to Afrobeat king Fela Kuti (whose words frame the graphic profile), but it’s evocative of a classic Nigerian barber shop. 

Don’t Sleep Interiors, Modern Africa Barbershop Poster, $48 at Etsy

You’re still not over The Last Dance 

Air Jordan 1 Tufted Rug

Photo: Etsy

Here’s proof that there is a sexy way to incorporate your love of Space Jam into your adult home decor. Whether you’re a long-standing Michael Jordan fan, or finally watched The Last Dance (same) and are now totally obsessed with 90s basketball fashion, this tufted rug is for hanging above your TV. 

Legit Rugs Air Jordan 1 Tufted Rug, $120 at Etsy

Your prefer Scandinavian design

Round Bamboo Mirror

Photo: Amazon

A round mirror is one thing. But one that is inset into concave wood is *chef’s kiss* the perfect upgrade to your IKEA mirror. No shade; It served you well for a long time. But it doesn’t quite say, “Wanna Criterion Collection and chill?” 

Round Bamboo Mirror, $98.96 at Amazon

You have ~opinions~ on the Blade Runner sequel

Nagel Print

Finally, this hot tip: Stay a while on sites like Craigslist, Goodwill (yup, they’re online), and Facebook Marketplace. It’s as close as you’ll get to finding a perfectly intact 1980s Patrick Nagel lithograph (the likes of which seem to abound on California Craigslist) on the street.

The Playboy Portfolio lithograph, $349 at Craigslist


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