If you’ve ever been to a thrift store, you know that oversized frames with faded, ugly artwork are not hard to find. I like to buy these frames and replace their contents with artwork I print out at Walgreens/Duane Reade, who provide next-day prints as large as 2 feet by 3 feet for $15-30.
I love to print my own wall art because I get to choose exactly the size, themes, and colors I want, and I don’t have to wait to find something perfect in a store. I once discovered a beautiful cloudscape on One Kings Lane that was a out of my budget and too small for my space. Nonetheless inspired, I found a similar image on Wikimedia Commons and printed it myself.
I’ve recently discovered and fallen in love with art databases, many of which offer very high-resolution images for free, making the possibilities for printing your wall art almost endless. I’ve gathered some of my favorite images for you below, which you can click on and download, or you can discover your own.
1. Search for your image using Flickr Commons, the New York Public Library Digital Collections, or the Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection Online, all of which have some real masterpieces in large file sizes, or use advanced Google image search, selecting the largest file size under settings.
2. Download the largest file size possible. In the case of the NYPL and the Met, you want to download the TIF file.
3. Open your file in photo editing software, such as iPhoto, Photoshop, or Pixlr. Straighten and crop if necessary. Increase the brightness, contrast, and saturation, as images often appear muted in print in comparison to on screen.
4. Ideally, you will print your image at at least 225 pixels per inch. If you divide the pixel dimensions of your file by 225, you will find the maximum size, in inches, at which you should print this file. If the image is not big enough, resize it to make it bigger, then reduce noise and sharpen details to correct for pixellation.
5. Order your print from Walgreens or your preferred seller, either as a poster to frame or as a canvas wrap to hang up as is, and enjoy!
Here are some of my favorites I’ve found digging through the databases—maybe you’ll fancy one for your space!
This collection of historical postcards is a very small subset of what is available from the New York Public library. I was easily able to find souvenirs from some of my favorite spots—ranging from Harvard to Boston Harbor to Yosemite—and I’m sure you could too. While many of these would stand alone well, I would be most tempted to hang up an assortment side by side.
Let me know in the comments section below if you have any other art databases you love, if you find any gems in your searching, or if you have other favorite ways to decorate your walls! For more room ideas, check out this earlier blog post.