Gift Guide 2013: Art, Prints, and Posters

by Maxwell Tielman


Art can take a room from being unconsidered to beautifully cohesive and, when chosen thoughtfully and judiciously, make for an amazing gift. There’s something particularly special about receiving a piece of art, whether it’s a hand painted watercolor or simply a poster reproduction of one of your favorite works. Hanging on your wall, a piece of art can lend beauty, personality, and inspiration to your life. Although everybody’s art preferences are endlessly varied, we culled through some of our favorite online art destinations for our own handpicked assortment. From drawings by some of our favorite contemporary illustrators and awesome vintage finds to a few tried-and-true modern masterpieces, this compilation has a little bit of something for everybody (even the occasional Parks & Recreation fan)! Check out all of our picks and links after the jump! Enjoy! —Max

Above image, clockwise from top right: 1. Katy Smail’s original illustration “Sadie” | 2. “Heavy Words” print by Three of The Possessed | 3. Caitlin Keegan’s “Forest Masks” poster | 4. Tiny Art Shop’s “Ron Swanson” print | 5. Krissy Digg’s “My Favorite Shape” print


Clockwise from top left: 1. George Hoyningen-Huené photograph from Vogue | 2. Josef Albers designed “Persuasive Percussion” record cover (vintage, but copies are often available on eBay or Etsy) | 3. Saul Bass designed “Vertigo” movie poster | 4. Richard Vergez “Exhalation” print | 5. Powerful Animals’ hand-stitched geometric embroidery art | 6. Rui Ribeiro’s “Half 2” print


Clockwise from top left: 1. Elisa Werbler’s “Building 1” print | 2. Zoe Tilley’s “A Tale and A Skunk” print | 3. Jaime Derringer’s “Sandworm 1” print | 4. Kevin Russ’ “San Juan Forest” print | 5. Josef Albers “Homage To The Square” framed print | 6. Scott Albrecht’s “We Live For This Shit” print

Suggested For You


  • Thank you from the bottom of my heart for selecting my work! You have no idea how much that means to me! I love this website, and seeing my actual work featured on it is just mind blowing!

  • I had posters on my wall when I was in my 20s, they were all I could afford! This was the late 80s, so no internet–so I got mine from the museums (I lived in Washington, DC) and a strange poster shop in old town Alexandria that always smelled like weed when you walked in. But now that I am old(49-yikes!) I collect art. Real art. Paintings, mostly, some photographs–and I’m suggesting you young people start building an art collection when you can. These posters can and are reproductions printed on photo paper that anyone can do–they don’t have much meaning when 3000 other people have them. But art!–limited addition prints, sculptures, paintings–buy what you love that no one else has or very few people have–that’s special! These posters are rather meaningless and would not be considered an art collection. I bought my first piece when I was 26–a $100 limited edition silkscreen. Don’t waste your money on this mass-produced stuff unless you really, really love it. Art is not something rich people can only have–small, local artists usually are affordable. Just buy real art! Not something someone has taken to Kinkos (sorry, Fedex) and printed on photo paper. Just my (older) 2 cents.

    • Julie

      I understand and agree with the power of owning original art. But to say, “they don’t have much meaning when 3000 other people have them” is completely false. I think if that was the case people would never shop at big box stores. What is meaningful to people- and their budgets- is entirely relative. Also, some people who don’t have the budget for original artwork (not all small local artists are affordable- not by a long sot) don’t want to wait to save up. I understand wanting them to, but the reality is, people without the budget for original work want to buy artwork for their homes and should have resources to do so, just like people who can afford the originals. And I don’t think buying a print of an original somehow makes it less special to the person who buys it. I think there are plenty of people who have millions of dollars to spend on art and buy art only for the prestige of owning a certain piece. For me, the real meaning comes from investing in something (at whatever level you can) that means something to you.


  • @Julie: there’s more than one hand-pulled screenprint in this roundup, not to mention the original embroidery art. And “meaningless” is certainly in the eye of the beholder.

  • I agree completely Grace. Well said. Love Krissy’s work and may have to “invest” in one of her pieces!

  • Love the post and focus on prints by illustrators- really nice selection!! I myself am a freelance illustrator and agree with Grace’s reply to the “save up for originals” comment- Purchasing or giving a print is great because it’s meaningful or beautiful- but also because it supports the artist, just like purchasing an original would. I very rarely if ever sell original works, but do get support through Etsy from print purchases–and love to buy prints from other artists when I can. I think the image should be appreciated for what it is and how it affects the viewer, not how rare or expensive it is.

  • I buy a lot of prints and posters, and the framing usually costs more than the print. But I get to look at something that I like – maybe it makes someone in my family laugh, or stop and think – and its not such an investment that I can’t change my mind. Not everything is an investment piece, not everything needs to be an “original” to be appreciated. That said, however, i have priced the originals of a couple of the prints i’ve bought – to be nice, the originals remain unpurchased (six years, so far) because they are far overpriced for what they are, and not just in comparison to the relatively moderately priced prints.

  • Grace, that was my point. Buy what you love, what you can afford. I was suggesting, however, that having these same “for like ever” posters are ubiquitous, mass-produced stuff that is not art. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder (and the pocketbook). I recognize that not all your list was mass-produced, but it IS the limited-edition silkscreen and embroidery art that are certainly more original. And I beg to differ about local artists being unaffordable–perhaps they are in New York. I lived and collected mostly in DC and in my travels. My most expensive piece so far was $1600, but most of my collection is in the $200-400 range. I bought 1 or maybe 2 pieces per year. One of my favorite pieces was an $80 piece of pottery from an American Indian artist in Mandan, North Dakota. That’s the stuff you remember when and where you bought it–memories. If you like it, and it’s on sale at Walmart for $12.99, go for it. But I speak from experience that buying from an artist, well, that’s something special. Supporting a struggling artist in a country that wants to kill off all art endowments and support, is a great thing. You will not regret it, even if your walls are mostly bare until you’re 40.

  • Just another artist chiming in to say that I love selling and buying prints! Thanks for the wonderful guide Design*Sponge. The more attention we bring to artists launching their careers the better!

  • Thanks for the interesting art selection Max. I especially enjoyed being steered towards the Kevin Russ photographs. I loved the one titled ‘Foggy Forest Creek’, so mysterious and lovely. I do love art and I do collect it as well, however I’ve never really connected with photography and this was a great reminder to me to keep my mind open to other forms of art. Again, thank you!

  • Julie,

    All of these prints are directly from the artists’ personal online shop, not a big box store. The artists set their prices (aside from the bare minimum sites like Society6, as a print-on-demand site, charges), they decide when to take these prints off the shelf, they decide if these prints are limited-edition or numbered, they can sign them for you, and they’re often very open to commission if you want something more personal. For a lot of illustrators and designers these days, their work is created entirely digitally using computer programs, so there is no single “original” to buy.

    For most of these artists and designers, their customers are the same as them: young, strapped for cash, and not able to drop $200 on an original painting once or twice a year. But those young customers CAN pay $50 for a print once a year to support another artist whose work they enjoy, until they have enough saved up or are making enough where they can afford originals from artists who work in traditional media.

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