Affordable Art for Small Spaces and Small Budgets

Written by Mindy Lighthipe

As an artist I enjoy creating my own work but I also love to see what other artists make. I wish I had the financial resources to be an art collector! I have done a lot of thinking about this and realized I have limited space as well as limited funds. Does this mean I can not support and enjoy other artists? Does becoming an art collector mean I have to buy expensive, large pieces of art?

Hand Pulled Prints to the Rescue

I may not be able to afford large works with high price tags but I realized there is an art form out there I can afford. Printmaking! I am not talking about computer reproductions or giclee prints. I am talking about etchings, engravings, linoleum and wood cuts, mono prints and more. In some cases it requires an etching press.

There are many different forms of traditional printmaking. It is exciting because there are so many fabulous contemporary printmakers producing hand-pulled prints and the price point is affordable! I started collecting and I am hooked!

What is a Solar Etching?

In college I took printmaking and learned all the different processes and enjoyed creating limited editions. The draw backs for me were the acids and chemicals involved in printmaking. They can be toxic and harmful to both the artist and the environment.  I stopped working as a printmaker because of this. 

In 2017 I discovered a form of etching I fell in love with! It is called Solar Etching or Photo Gravure. This modern day technique for printmakers allows the artist to blend current technology with traditional techniques. An artist creates the image in whatever media/technique they like. The original (which can be sold as a One of a Kind) is  scanned into an editing program. I use Adobe Photoshop. I convert my image to greyscale and then work with polymer plates which have a light sensitive coating.

The image is transferred to the plate, exposed to UV light, and then washed. The areas where there are tonal values become “indented or etched” into the plate and become ready for inking. Each plate can produce anywhere from 20-50 images before the plate is no longer viable. Each one is hand inked and hand-pulled by the printmaker, creating a limited edition. Afterwards the artist can opt to leave the print as a single color (monochromatic) or it can be hand tinted with multiple colors. I love hand tinting my etchings for an even more incredible bonus! Each one is made by me and is unique….. and affordable! Win! Win!   

Here is a short little video on hand pulling the print: What is a Solar Etching?

Framing Etching or Prints

Most of the prints I purchase are found online through Instagram, Etsy, ArtFinder etc. The artist ships the art flat or rolled in a tube. When it gets to me I have the task of framing it. This can be daunting for people with no framing experience. I have been framing my original art as well as my limited edition etchings for years. It has saved me thousands of dollars.

I found Frame Destination awhile ago and was so impressed at how easy (and affordable) it was for me to pick out a frame, mat, glazing etc. Their website makes it super simple to order and assembly is easy too!

I am in the process of updating my website to offer my Solar Etchings. I call it, “Affordable Art for Small Spaces”. I am partnering with Frame Destination to offer a framing solution for customers who purchase my etchings and need to do the framing themselves. I like simple elegant frames for my prints and really like the option of either a solid wood black frame #502b or the white distressed wood frame #554

Here you can view my “how -to” video on measuring the art, choosing a mat, ordering the frame and final assembly to get the art framed and on the wall!

About the Author

Learn more about the author and see more of her work in our Artie’s Eight Artist Spotlight featuring Mindy.

Last Updated November 1, 2022