So I've been puzzling over this one for a bit, trying to come up with a witty segue from introduction, into how I really feel about this topic. In short, I can't, so I'll just get it out there and we can move on without having to read between the very thinly veiled lines.
I think online poster companies are a waste. If you are turning to them as your first point of call for your art needs, you seriously need to up your game. You aren't doing yourself or your interiors any favours by buying these uninspired, mass-produced prints just to have something hung on a wall. It's art only for the sake of filling a gap.
I get that art is transformative, and that it's better to have something on the walls than not, but when did we opt for a mass produced posters in a skimpy frame as the only economical option? And, when did a poster that four-thousand other people own become art?
I understand that that might be easy for me to say, as a designer that has the resources and budgets at my disposal, to buy and frame exactly what I need for a particular space. However you'd be wrong. I'm not saying I don't have these budgets, but more often than not, the art budget is the first to be chopped and you have to think of other ways to add in this layer that doesn't involve picking a poster with a free frame thrown in.
So what is the issue with these framed posters you ask?
Primarily, I would say that they defeat the purpose. The main aim of having art, or for the sake of this conversation, having anything on the walls, is to add depth, help with layering, create engagement, and very often help to inject elements into a space that perhaps budget wouldn't otherwise allow.
For example, you may be renting a stock standard new-build and the timber frames and linen mounts on the walls might be the much needed injection of warmth in an otherwise clinical, and soulless environment. A snap of a vintage car bonnet and a skinny black frame isn't going to do that. These posters honestly do more to detract from a space than add.
Secondly, the pieces you chose to display should be personal, and if they aren't personal or have sentimental meaning, at least should show consideration to the space they are adding to. A purchase from an online poster company adds none of this. I mention in a previous post #thesuitespot how to prevent your home feeling void of personality. These posters do nothing to help make your personal mark.
Third thing, art should always have a sense of uniqueness or exclusivity. Artists have "editions" for a reason. I can tell you now, the main reason people queue for the Louvre isn't to see the great brush work in the Mona Lisa, they queue because there is only one of her on earth, and they get to tick that off a bucket list. There is nothing unique about a picture of a pineapple for £3.95. It's not the medium of a poster I have an issue with, it's the content, or lack there of.
And finally, these online stores aren't the be-all and end-all for an economical and convenient solution. One of my favourite pieces I own is a page I cut from a book and taped to a picture frame I found on the street. The total cost £0. Time spent, probably less than two minutes.
So where to from here?
Be personal. Only frame or hang pieces that are personal to you, have a story to them or pieces which were actually created by you. That page from a book I mentioned above, that was a page from a coffee table book I brought with me from South Africa. It got water damaged, and rather than tossing the book, I cut out my favourite pictures and had those framed. It didn't cost a thing, but its a better story than "these were on sale."
The same way you layer a room for depth, with rugs sitting on floors, sofas sitting on rugs and cushions sitting on sofas etc etc, treat art the same way. If you are going to frame something, like a photograph for example, which is essentially a glossy piece of paper, go for a mount or float the picture over a backing board. That way you will get another layer within the frame, thus adding depth. Mounts are super cheap and easy to buy and there are loads of online stores that you can customise the sizes, and the cut-outs of the mounts to fit exactly. Don't make excuses, this isn't rocket science.
Window Mount | Float | Deckled Edge
If you're on a budget but are done staring at blank walls, rather spend the money on a quality frame than using a discount code you found on Instagram to buy a couple of posters. Zara Home, Habitat and West Elm have an amazing selection of well priced frames in all sorts of great finishes. Chuck in a postcard you've picked up from literally anywhere, and you are already miles ahead from where you would be if you settled for an oversized Ampersand or a meaningless quote from a deceased artist or spiritual guru.
Last thing - don't be lazy. If you have managed to renovate a house, move all your furniture, and deal with all the other curve-balls doing up your house/room throws at you, don't fail at the last hurdle. This shit makes all the difference.