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Affordable Art Hack: Where to Download and Print DIY Wall Art

A transitional style bedroom with upholstered guest bedroom, designer pillows, and tree art

Boy can it be a struggle to find good, affordable art. For how critical art can be for making a house feel like a home, this has always surprised me. For the average design enthusiast, it can sometimes feel there is little in between the mass-produced Home Goods (on offense, I go to Home goods for stuff, but you know!) art and pricey reproductions. 

I do have a handful of artists I love to source original artwork from for my clients, and I’ll always personally favor this option! But sometimes you just need to fill an open space with something quick and dirty. This is where DIY printing can save the day. 

It can be a bit overwhelming in the first few go’s printing your own DIY wall art. You may have had questions like, what paper type do I use? Do I need margins? How much should DIY prints cost? 

Well, good news - I’ve tried (and failed) a lot of different methods. So grab your pile of sad or thrifted frames, cause here's a roundup of the best places to buy affordable downloads (plus, how sizing works), where we print our art, and some framing hacks.

Where to Find Digital Downloads

Most retailers for digital downloads sell through Etsy’s marketplace, even if they also sell on their own sites. For this reason, it’s a great one-stop shop for finding art. 

Etsy, like any good platform in 2024, functions on an algorithm. So as you’re pursuing, “favorite” listings by tapping the heart icon to better refine your results and sponsored listings (ads). 

When looking for art, it’s helpful to search by subject + composition. For example, “tree sketch” or “landscape oil painting”. Another strategy is to just head straight to a shop’s page and view the art they’ve curated. 

Well, where do you shop for digital art? I thought you’d never ask. I’ve rounded up our favorite shops for digital downloads below:

2. Heirloom Print Shop (they offer downloads and printing!)

Selecting Your DIY Wall Art

To best guide your search, I would focus on finding the size you need first. Digital downloads print best when the aspect ratio of the image matches the size you need. Reference the table below to determine the Aspect Ratio of the image you’ll need to buy to correspond with your ideal or frame size.

The listing will usually always contain information on the print size and/or aspect ratio. If you have the frame ready and know what size you’ll need, you can use our chart above to ensure the size you need is in the correct aspect ratio available.

A chart describing aspect ratio and corresponding art size

The benefit of purchasing on Etsy is that you can also usually message the seller for a customer size or aspect ratio! Usually for free, but they may have a listing for custom sizing at a nominal fee that can also be purchased. 
If you can’t get the aspect ratio you need, you crop the image to get the print size you want. Beware of “stretching” an image - or printing an image with an aspect ratio size smaller than the printing size. The quality of the image can be affected. 

How to Print Your Digital Downloads

Based on the composition and subject of art, there are different strategies for printing to make your art feel museum-quality. 

Printing Sketches or Watercolors

For art done in a style of a sketch or drawings (anything where you want to tell it’s on paper), I recommend printing on a matte paper that’s heavier like cardstock (at least 110 lb). Look for anything thick and textured, a good keyword to look for is “archival”. 

Office Depot, Staples, or Zazzle ( this listing for custom sizes) are my faves.

At Staples, you can print anything smaller than an 8”x11” for less than $1 by selecting Document Printing - Simple Printing and choosing White Cardstock.

Printing Oil Paintings

I don’t usually say things are a must - but I feel very strongly that one should print a beautiful vintage-style oil painting (examples below) on a rolled or unstretched canvas. Meaning the canvas is not mounted around a wooden frame and comes flat ready to insert into a frame.

UPrinting is my go-to for printing custom-sized rolled canvas at affordable prices.

I’ve also used FinerPrints for Giclee Canvas Printings (select Matte, unmounted Canvas) and the quality is lovely, but UPrinting is a better, in my opinion, for the value!

Pro trip - remove the glass from your frame and adhere the rolled canvas to the backboard of a frame using glue for true *chef’s kiss * museum-quality art.

Printing Large Scale

If you’re printing large scale, the cost will really be dependent on the size. Office Depot offers poster printing in Premium Matte (for sketches) or Canvas (for paintings) at pretty reasonable prices. 

This Zazzle listing and this UPrinting listing also offer custom large-scale sizing at a good value.

I purchased these digital downloads for $12 and printed all three at a large custom scale from Zazzle for less than $75.

A transitional style room with three large tree prints

If you're still not sold, an even better hack than going trough the trouble of downloading, printing, and framing your art is using a company that will do it all for you - on a budget. Museum Quality Art is by far the best, imo, for selection of unique prints and affordable framing. I am such a frequent flyer over there, I've gotten an exclusive discount.

Use code HALIEPORTER at check out over on Museum Quality Art  for 15% off

I hope these hacks and shops help fill your walls with joy - happy printing!

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Halie Porter
Founder of Swann Street Interiors
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