Have you ever been browsing online art stores, or marketplaces to see a piece of art you like, then discovered it’s either a digital download or a rolled-up print that gets popped in the post?
It could be a painting, a photograph, or a photo of a photo. Unlike art museums in America, British art museums sometimes allow photographs to be taken in the gallery.
The only typical requirement is no flash. There is very little restriction on photographing photos in British art museums.
When you’re downloading digital art from anywhere, it is a digital file containing a photo of a photo, or a scanned print, or a completely digital picture, such as artwork created in Adobe PhotoShop, Illustrator or another graphic design software program.
Digital photography has had a bad rap in the past decade or so. There is nothing wrong with it and it is not fake art unless the seller deceives you into believing that you’re buying an original art print. Frowning on digital art is just snobbery. Art is art, regardless of whether it is an original or a copy. In fact, some museum-quality prints are so expensive that the original is kept in controlled environments and the copy of it is used for display purposes.
If you like a print, but you’re on a budget, the digital art reproduction is the cheapest way to get it into a photo frame and onto your wall.
Where to find quality art on a budget online
Stalk with style by collaborating with all of your favourite artists. The vast majority of artists (of all mediums) are on social media platforms. Most will manage their own accounts, but some of the more influential names may have a management team for their social media handles.
Either way, your messages reach them. The platforms to find artists on are the visual ones. Places like Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.
Two different platforms artists use as part of their outreach/marketing to connect with people are Tumblr, which is an old-school microblogging platform, and UnSplash, which is more like a stock photography website, but with social engagement integrated.
You can message photographers, share profiles, images, and build collections just like Pinterest boards. The UnSplash platform allows photographers to list themselves as available for hire and promote their own stores. Links are shown on their profile page.
There is a plethora of digital images on stock photography sites so before you dive too deep down this rabbit hole, read up on the licenses.
Understanding Digital Art Print Licensing
Every digital product is provided with an End User License Agreement (EULA). The vast majority of licensed digital prints are for personal use. That is the same regardless of whether you buy the print or grab a freebie to print yourself. This applies to photos taken of artwork in museums like the Tate Gallery allows (provided you follow their rules) and even pictures taken in any of the Royal Gardens or within the Square Mile in London. Those need permits for taking professional photos.
Personal use means you can print and frame it for your own use, but you cannot sell the image in any way. That includes using print on demand services to sell custom mugs, t-shirts, or personalised items containing the artwork. Those would require a commercial license and those are pricey. To print and frame to display on the walls in your home, that is personal use. You are not gaining money from an artist’s work.
An emerging art market is the completely digital marketplace that runs on blockchain. Non-Fungible Token (NFT) artwork. These are digital files created for online viewing and some of the licenses may stipulate that printing is not permitted. The difference between fungible and non-fungible is uniqueness. A non-fungible digital asset is a one-of-a-kind. It cannot be traded like coins, which are all identical. Every NFT artwork has only one digital file. To keep it that way, some digital artists will restrict printing as a preventative measure against replica prints being produced, then their creations mass-distributed online, which would deflate the value.
Whichever type of digital art you buy or download from anywhere, check the EULA to make sure you can do what you want with it without breaking the rules.
The bulk of the time, when you want to redecorate or change up your artwork around the home, digital art prints are the most affordable. Moreover, whatever type of art it is you like, you can contact artists directly and ask them if they would consider sending or selling you a print of their work for framing.
Artists support themselves in many ways. Original art prints have a lot of work put into them. The work that goes into each piece is (rightly so) reflected in the price. Digital print runs are cash flow creators for independent artists.
If the thought of paying hundreds of pounds for an original piece of artwork puts you off of buying a print, ask the artist about a digital print. They take a fraction of the time to create and do not have high costs. Most will retail under £50, some as low as £10 for a poster-size print. The price is determined by the number of prints the artist releases.
The only other cost is the price to print and frame digital art, and a mount if you want to keep it for a while.