It took me a long time to realize I shouldn’t spend a lot of money on wall art. To be clear, it’s not that I’m opposed to investing in great art. But rather, because we move so much, there’s just no guarantee that a great piece…no matter how much I love it…will work in the next home. This realization has led me to DIY a lot of my own art and shop retailers such as Minted, Society 6, and discount home stores. But these options still didn’t help my art fit exactly where I needed it, every single time we moved. However, I was recently searching Etsy for something else and noticed there is now an abundance of really quality digital prints available for download. It occurred to me that I could make my own affordable art prints for our walls…in any size, at any time. Let me show you what I mean!

White frames with blue, white, and grey ocean artwork.

Why Affordable Art?

The term “affordable artwork” means different things to different people. For a long time, anything less than $100 for something really big was my threshold. But even then, I found it frustrating when I had fantastic pieces (that I paid good money for) that just didn’t work in our (new) home.

For example, I genuinely love every single piece in this carefully curated gallery wall in our last home

Welcome guests into your home with a light, bright, and happy foyer design. Check out the fresh and easy details that make this foyer makeover so welcoming!

But not a single one of those pieces is displayed in our current home. Why? Well…for one, we don’t have nearly that size wall anywhere in this house. But generally speaking, color schemes and scale can vary dramatically from one home to the next, making it difficult (although not impossible) to find spots for everything, every time. So imagine my frustration when I wanted some wall art for a smaller wall in our current master bedroom and none of this awesome art fit or matched.

Because this particular frustration has happened so many times, I’ve become less and less willing to invest “big” in art over the years. As a result, I now do what I can to decorate our walls as cheaply as possible. DIY solutions work great a lot of the time, but what about when you want something that looks really high end, without that high end price tag?

Finding (Really) Good Digital Art Prints

It’s not a new concept to buy digital prints from online markets like Etsy and print them yourself. But for a long time, digital art was usually limited to kitschy kitchen and bathroom signs, nursery and kids decor, and even typography phrases. But in recent months, I’ve seen more and more really good photography and abstract art become available…and not in ready-to-ship prints, but in digital files.

White frames with blue, white, and grey ocean artwork.

There are a few really nice things about buying digital files rather than pre-printed artwork:

Lower Cost

Generally speaking, buying a digital print will be much cheaper than buying pre-printed artwork. I found amazing images for as cheap as $2-3; and many boutiques run discounts if you buy bundles or multiple prints. And while you may have to pay sales tax depending on where you live, you won’t have to pay shipping!

All Sizes

At least in the prints I bought, I received super high quality digital files in several different ratios (4:5, 2:3, etc), which means I can print the photographs in any size I want or need. For many, this is likely a “nice to have” feature. But for someone who moves a lot, this is a game changer. I can print this ocean image in 11X14″ for this house. But if I want that same artwork larger or smaller in a future home, I already have access to the image and just need to re-print it.

Print Your Own

One of the many perceived downsides to using digital files to make your own affordable art prints is that they are digital, which means you have to print them yourself. This used to be a big headache. But now, there are tons and tons and tons of online print shops that offer good prints…in any size…at really affordable prices. And since many offer promotions on an on-going basis, you can score prints for really cheap and usually with free shipping.


Selecting great wall art doesn’t necessarily need to be a super speedy process…but I have to admit, it’s amazing how quickly you can find, download, order, receive, and then hang custom wall art using digital prints. I picked out my new digital art on a Monday; they were both hanging on my wall by Wednesday, all without leaving my home (and with pretty perfect results, I might add!)

Availability of Designs

Finally, the availability of really good designs is amazing right now. With just a few simple searches on Etsy, I was able to find dozens and dozens of contenders for my little wall, as well as so many more that I wish I had space for! This breadth of options means two really great things:

  • It’s fairly easy to find something unique….rather than something from Target or HomeGoods that feels slightly generic and many people will have on their walls.
  • It’s fairly easy to find something that matches your space perfectly. Just by using color filters and basic search terms (e.g., beach, trees, forest, mountain, flower, abstract, etc) you’ll find countless options!

To give you a sense of what you can now find, here are some that caught my eye in a recent search. All of these are just a few dollars!

7 sample digital prints from Etsy in blues, pinks, purples and greens.9 sample digital prints from Etsy in turquoises, tans, and pinks.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16

Great Digital Photography Shops

Here are some Etsy shops where I found a lot of awesome digital art options:

Our New Ocean Prints

To finish up our master bedroom, I wanted two (smallish) prints for the wall above our newly recovered hampers. I searched Etsy for “Navy Digital Art Prints,” and came up with tons of options. I narrowed it down to this one and this one.

TIP! Skip taking screen shots or analyzing images from tab to tab. By simply placing various options in your Cart, you can quickly view how they work together from within the Cart view.

White frames with blue, white, and grey ocean artwork.

Years ago, I discovered Mpix for printing. I loved their rates, promotions, and quality of their large-scale prints, so I keep returning time and time again. After purchasing my files from Etsy, I immediately uploaded them, selected my print size, and submitted my order. Within 2 days, I had gorgeous prints ready to pop into frames and hang on my wall.

TIP! Almost any online print boutique will work the same way, so you might want to shop around for who is running good promotions on certain sizes, who has free shipping etc. 

White frames with blue, white, and grey ocean artwork.

Cost Breakdown

Here is the cost breakdown for each print:

  • Digital Art: $5 ($6.25 + 20% off shop discount since I bought 2).
  • Printing: $6.75 ($8.99 for a 11×14″ print + 25% off promotion).
  • Total: $11.75 per print

I wish I had more to order so I could qualify for free shipping, but I didn’t. So with tax and shipping calculated for BOTH prints together, my grand total was $34.70, which works out to $17.35 per print!

Had I ordered larger prints or more prints (like for a gallery wall), I would have qualified for free shipping, bringing the cost down even more. Considering ready-to-print sites like Minted and Society 6 would run at least $25-45 for similar sizes and designs, the savings can really add up!

White frames with blue, white, and grey ocean artwork.

Truth be told, I never expected to love this little affordable art prints hack so much. Sure, I knew it would be quick, easy, and affordable…but I certainly didn’t expect to love the prints so darn much!

Small gallery wall with white and wood frames and ocean artwork.

I over-agonized how this little wall would look with a mixture of frame styles and art+awards+photos, but the final result just really clicks for me!

Small gallery wall with white and wood frames and ocean artwork.

These affordable art prints are so vibrant and refreshing in this spot; and the saturated blues really bring some color and life to this side of the room (which admittedly, has a lot happening on the other side!)

Small gallery wall with white and wood frames and ocean artwork.

Spending about $35 for some fresh art for this room was totally worth it. Considering it’s the very first thing we see when we open our eyes, it’s been amazing how much we appreciate it! And what I love most of all is that I own the digital artwork forever. So if in our next house, the bedroom wall is a smidge bigger or a different scale, I can reprint the art that I already have and love…in a new size!

Small gallery wall with white and wood frames and ocean artwork.

If you have a big blank wall (or even a small spot!) and you don’t know how to fill it up without breaking the bank, I highly encourage you to give this affordable art prints trick a try! I think you will be amazed how quickly, easily, and affordably you can find art you truly love!

See You Soon!