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The ways we decorate our walls breathe personality and life into the spaces we make our own. But finding wall art you love can be a challenge... and affording it? Well, that can quickly become its own obstacle. That's where free art comes in. (Yes, we said free.)
With a little bit of savvy and a nudge in the right direction, there's no shortage of imagery available in the public domain. And it all has the potential to become easy DIY wall art — printed and framed, completely legally. Here, we guide you through some of our most-loved ideas for finding and framing free art — from sources worth a search to tips and tricks for putting your favorites in print.
Hint: They make for great gifts too!
Royalty-free photography sites are large libraries of free images donated by professional photographers for personal or even commercial use. The images on these sites are free of charge and legal to print, but you can still say thank you by sharing thanks on your social networks or even making a donation. After all, a small thank you is well worth a beautiful photo that brings artful intrigue to your walls.
In general, these sites are reliable sources for high-resolution images that print immaculately (especially when put to paper in giclée quality!). There are many out there, but we've listed a few below to help start your search. We've even curated photos from each that we'd love to see on our walls!
Our pick for modern photography, filled with thousands of options.
Another library of free images shared by kind photographers. (Don't forget to leave a donation!)
A unique collection of vintage photos free of known copyright restrictions.
Several decor companies take classic works of art, print them, and sell them at high dollar. But what you might not know is that the same framed Monet print being sold for hundreds is a free download that can be printed completely legally. That means you can bring that Degas or Klimt you've always wanted home by simply printing and framing an image that's available for everyone.
What is public domain? As you peruse through these timeless works of past centuries, just make sure to look for those that are marked copyright-free or, more commonly, public domain. Works of art most often become public domain once their copyright expires or when an artist deliberately gives up or forgoes copyright.
New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, iconically nicknamed the Met, has made its archives available to the public.
Los Angeles' celebrated Getty Museum has also made thousands of public domain works available for a broad range of uses.
A well-designed poster print is a welcome addition to any at-home wall art collection. And with a little bit of searching, you can find some of the many free collections that pop up from time to time for digital download. One of our personal favorites is the Visions of the Future collection made available by NASA. Each poster is available as a 20 x 30" print, so you should have no trouble finding a frame thanks to the standard sizing!
Have a few words that always provide much-needed inspiration? It's beyond easy to bring them to your wall. Even if you don't have design software like Photoshop, there are still some options at your disposal that are free and approachable. Look to Canva, featuring a simplified interface that streamlines the process for designers and non-designers alike. Or, we've even seen people stylize their words in a Google Doc and take a simple screenshot. (This just usually requires a bit of cropping, which is easy enough to do in the editor.)
Psst… feel free to download a few of our favorite sayings. We're including them as free, print-ready designs below!
A little bit of "wallpaper" can go a long way. And that's where patterns, textures, and florals can come in! Framing these little pockets of patterning creates unique dimension, serving as a beautiful accent that helps room decor and even other pieces in a gallery wall pop. Look to any of the sources we've listed above: each has its fair share of options. We're especially partial to florals (as if you couldn't tell!), so we're including a few favorites — just in case you love them as much as we do.
It should be less than surprising that we still think your own photos are the best choice for your walls. After all, nothing can match the meaningful nature of the moments you love looking back on. Plus, using your own photos doesn't mean you can't still create some interesting visual effects. With the widespread availability of filters, it's simple to reinvent your photos in ways that bring a little something extra to your walls. From Instagram filters to Lightroom presets, VSCO presets, and beyond, there's no shortage of possibilities to create something truly unique from your own camera roll.
Once you've found the piece you want to put in print, it's time to make sure you're taking the simple steps that ensure a quality print.
Not every print is created equal. That's why our Large Format Prints and Framed Prints are always rendered in true-to-life, giclée quality — the standard for fine art printing. You can learn more about what makes our process so special in our guide to giclée printing.
Many sites will give you options for the size of the image you're downloading. Always choose the largest and highest-resolution option. Then, make sure to open the file and confirm that the resolution is at least 150 dots per inch (300 is ideal). Check out our guide to enlarging photos if you don't know how!
Especially with classic works of arts that don't adhere to standardized dimensions, a little bit of cropping can go a long way in terms of avoiding the extra costs that can come with custom framing. In our editor, you'll be able to size, crop, and mat the image without much effort.
We always do our due diligence to make sure the photos we print belong to those who have the rights to print them. In fact, when you go to add your new frame or print to your cart, you'll see a message pop up asking you to confirm this. As long as the image you've chosen is copyright-free, you're safe to say "yes, they're mine!"