I have seen this way too often, I even did it in college. I had these huge stretched canvases with flowers that matched and even after all these years I still see the exact same ones in other home goods stores and people's homes. I blame this on not knowing what I really liked. The older I have gotten the more I realize my own personal style and taste. I can now define my style and buy art without having to look at an aisle in Pier 1. It's not easy to get to this point. It takes time and the courage to step outside the box and find out what you really like.
The problem is that this stuff is mass produced in China and what once was an original piece of art as turned into a money making print. Now, I am not saying that buying prints of some original works is bad but if you want something truly unique for yourself and something that speaks to your style and personality, then I say original art is the way to go. At least try to mix it up with some prints and originals.
But remember, just because it says original art doesn't mean it really is truly unique or that it is even quality. Art is defined as 1. The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
2. Works produced by such skill and imagination.
The beauty of art is in the eye of the beholder. If something speaks to you then buy it. Don't worry about what other people will think of your art. Art is very personal and should be what you like, not what is trendy or what other's tell you is good art. Also, when you do use original art that you have selected, it makes the room feel more personal and depending on what you hang can make a space feel more refined then a print would.
For example take a look at this office:
This office has a pretty standard framed print and minus the plants doesn't look terrible.
Now look this office with original art:
ICK Law Firm, this is one of our projects that we searched and searched for just the right piece of art. It still needs some more pieces but look at what a difference original and intentional art makes in a space.
With the internet these days, original art is pretty easy to come by. It has been brought to your doorstep through your computer. It can be a little difficult to see exact colors and textures online but so far, I haven't ordered anything that I am displeased with.
Here are some great examples of rooms with unique and original art. Remember art doesn't just mean a painting; photography makes great art pieces in a room, especially blown up really large or in groupings.
I love this more traditional room with that crazy bowling pin art. Very cool and eclectic and definitely speaks to the owner's personality.
If you notice in most of these pictures, the art does compliment to room, color and feel. Sometimes art is chosen lastly in a room and therefor as Interior Designers, we want to art to go with the rest of the room. However, sometimes the art is chosen first and the rest of the room is put together to enhance that treasured piece. Another chicken or the egg mystery.
A great resource is Etsy. If you haven't heard of Etsy then you are missing out! Etsy is almost like ebay without the bidding and it is only handmade, vintage or supplies for sell. I have bought some really unique handmade pieces of jewelry as well as some original art sketches and prints.
There are also all kinds of local artist venues, depending on where you live. Look in your local coffee shops, art galleries and art festivals for some original art.
Luckily for me, I have an artist in the family and have been blessed by some really cool things as well as some commission works. If you know someone that is a good artist, don't be afraid to commission a work from them. It doesn't hurt to ask and just make sure to compensate them.