One of the best parts of having your own space is being able to showcase your personality. To interior decorators, every piece in the home is a testament to the person you really are, from accent colors to splash pieces, each item says something about you. Thing is, most of us aren’t interior decorators. I know what I like in the house, but I can’t tell you why. And even worse, I can’t go out and find it because, frankly, I don’t know what I’m looking for.

The problem that I have, and that many people in our generation share, is being overwhelmed by commodities. Every piece of art that catches my fancy turns out to be a mass produced image for Target or Kohl’s that six other friends have, and before long my personal space looks like another hotel room outfitted by the same designer responsible for every male between 18-35. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Two routes in particular have helped me find a unique flavor again in my home decor.

Macklemore said it best: “Savin’ my money and I’m hella happy that’s a bargain, b***h.” Thrift stores and flea markets are some of the best options for finding cheap and unique art. As someone who has half a dozen pictures laying against a wall at any moment, I can tell you that people have extra art laying around, and when it goes to the donation box it comes from all over the world. Some of it is awesome. Some of it not so much. But a little bit of time shopping can turn up some pretty awesome finds. Or be lazy and do it at home here.

Finding a thrift shop is pretty easy, but there is a second option that is well worth a little extra effort (and If you live in an urban area, it will actually be easier than a trip to Goodwill). What is this second, and arguably superior source of cheap art to decorate your home? The artists themselves. Stay with me here. Every piece of art in the world, whether mass-produced for Kohls or hiding in a bargain bin, was created by an artist at some point. That’s a no-brainer. What we forget sometimes is that those artists usually went to art school with the goal of producing art that people would actually want to buy.

Student artists are just as strapped for cash as any other student. If you don’t believe me, go check out a Senior Art Show at any college. Many of the works will be for sale, and those price tags are almost certainly running lower than what the same piece of art would run at a gallery down the street. And if you feel like you’re cheating the system by paying too little, consider this: Those kids want to be professional artists and have to compete with a fiercely cutthroat industry to get there. Having someone buy a piece before they even graduate is a huge confidence booster, and a literal stepping stone in their art career. On top of that, you’re getting a one-of-a-kind piece that will add a touch of class to your home, and more importantly, make your friends and visitors totally jealous.

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