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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Maybe I Want To Look Cheap or...How to Make Art on the Down Low.

Many of us have the tools we need to make fabulous and very personal art inexpensively right at our own finger tips. I'm talking basic color copiers, people. And, just about everyone has a digital camera, Photoshop, scanners and whatnot these days, and it's a great way to create affordable artwork. On most color copiers you can enlarge an image up to 11" x 17", plenty large enough for framing, and although not perfect reproduction, it can give images a cool, gritty look, like my Italian movie poster above, or my hula-hoop girls below, which I enlarged from a postcard! I've enlarged maps, and they have a pretty cool look, too.

If you work in a creative industry, like I do...you've probably got one of these tools at your disposal. But if, by chance, you work at Dunkin' Donuts and don't have access to the necessary company-provided equipment, simply check out your local Kinko's (just be patient with the humankind who work there). All you need is a photo you love, a picture torn from a magazine, an old band flyer...whatever it is you'd like to see adorning your walls and have a hankering to display. If you've got a digital camera or you can get your image scanned (maybe a friend has a scanner?) at the highest resolution possible (300 DPI is good!), you can save your image on a disk. Then take your disk to your local color copier shop and have them output your image on a large format color printer. They'll turn your favorite image into a poster-sized or oversize photo enlargement. And if you want, they can even mount your poster or laminate it to preserve and protect your photo.

As I mentioned in a post below, Ikea has some great, inexpensive frames, like all of these shown (search 'Ribba' frame), with matting and glass already cut for you. Just measure the inside dimensions of your matting - print out your image at those dimensions (plus add at least a 1/4" bleed to your image so the matte covers the edges) and lay the photocopy in the matte and va-voom - you've got art! This is an old photo I enlarged of my brother, our mum and me riding the San Francisco cable cars in the 60's. Check my mod little ensemble and mum's rad shades ala Jackie-O. Nice memories and mementos make great and super affordable art.


Anonymous casapinka said...

The cable car photo is priceless. Love all your ideas. I did this with a wedding picture when we were too broke to get the real album - blew it up to enormous size but made the mistake of using a poster frame. You've just inspired me to reframe it rather than write it off as a cheap attempt at art!

6:58 AM  
Blogger ashley said...

Just beware the quality of the glass on the Ikea ribba frame. I was trying to load a poster into the frame this past weekend- pushed a little to hard and it shattered. Now I have to haul to a glass shop this week to replace! Overall though, The Ikea frames are a great design at a great price.

8:19 AM  
Anonymous zee homebug said...

Really inspiring; thanks so much! I had been toying with the idea of doing some art and framing myself but wasn't sure if I could pull it off but your pictures look really great so I'm convinced. Nice one!

8:37 AM  
Blogger amelia chesley said...

for cleaner enlarging you'd want to scan your pictures at a higher resolution than 300 dpi, depending on how far you're stretching it out, but if you do want that gritty look, 300 will work.

also, most copy places have scanners.

i like all these ideas. if we could ge doctors and dentists to put this sort of art in their offices... that'd be cool.

8:58 AM  
Anonymous joy said...


i am LOVING your posts! great job!

oh, and i've heard the same thing about the ikea ribba frames. i have two of them, so just press back the metal prong as far back as you can to avoid them sticking to the glass and breakage shouldn't be a problem...


10:14 AM  
Blogger sfgirlbybay said...

thanks everyone!

amelia - thanks for the tip about the scanners at copy places. i wasn't too sure if they still did that.

and i'd LOVE to create a better world of art in boring old offices. it's usually the worst art ever!

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wondering - do the Ikea frames have anti-UV glass? or is art going to fade in the sun when you use their frames?

11:37 AM  
Blogger sfgirlbybay said...

I've never had much of a problem with fading, but I doubt they have anti-UV glass, as the cost is so low.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Val said...

I'd be tickled to pieces if the third photo was a concert poster for the Hives.

8:00 PM  
Blogger Joanna Goddard said...

love this post! lots of great ideas. i've also had problems w/flimsy ikea glass, but then again they're so cheap so it's hard to complain....i'm inspired to frame some prints/photos this weekend. thanks so much, victoria!

8:10 PM  
Blogger lucy said...

i've been loving your posts! i'm just about to move, and unable to take any furniture with me, so I appreciate all the cheapspiration. I'll be needing it :)

8:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not seeing images for this post (other images are showing up ok.)

12:34 PM  
Blogger design*sponge said...

there's been a blogger glich - please bear with me while i fix it up! :)

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Janet said...

I'd love more Etsy suggestions--I think the site is so interesting, but rather overwhelming with the sheer amount of artists. I never know where to start...

Having known a few people (usually with art degrees) who've worked at Kinko's in college or after, I'd say it's more likely that the workers have to be patient with most of the customers...(I totally know you didn't mean anything by it, just had to say that not all Kinko's workers are morons.)

Very much enjoying your posts!

4:51 AM  
Blogger Phoebe said...


question for you: would you (or anyone else) have suggestions about affordable frames similar to those that ikea offers, but in larger sizes? i'd love to enlarge some favorite images in *really* large scales, but haven't wanted to go the custom-framing route...

thanks in advance for any thoughts you might have!

8:41 AM  
Anonymous maria said...

Another good way of making your own art--on a large scale--is the rasterbator (http://homokaasu.org/rasterbator/). It takes small or regular-size images of your choosing and blows them up for you. Then, they give you a multi-page pdf file that you can print off yourself and assemble into a collage-style poster for your wall.

They have a gallery of how other people are using their rasterized images in their own spaces and people are being really innovative. It's very cool.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the commenter looking for affordable frames: I have ordered custom-sized from Frames By Mail (http://framesbymail.com) twice and I am very happy with them. You can order frames in any size you want, with any kind of mat (or no mat), and non-glare plexiglass instead of glass. I was worried that the plexiglass might look blurry or cheap but it is indistinguishable from glass. Prices vary but for most frames they are very reasonable because you assemble the frame yourself.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

Be careful of taking copyrighted (not to you) images to a copy shop and expecting them to print them for you...they won't bat an eye if you do it yourself on the self-service machines, but they can be real touchy about producing it behind the counter. Most places will be cool about it, but it's happened to me more than once with stuff for my job, even!

12:10 PM  
Blogger sfgirlbybay said...

yes, Jess is correct. i was mostly referring to old photographs, mementos etc.

1:56 PM  

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