A couple of years ago, I learned about public domain art. Basically, it’s art that is no longer protected by any copyright and is free for any personal or commercial use. With the help of the internet, many museums have made this artwork downloadable, making it possible for people to download high-quality images and sell them. Indeed, Etsy (and other websites!) has a thriving market where people sell prints of these paintings/drawings/illustrations, etc. (just check out this article). I’m not against anyone profiting from this. Those people are spending hours sifting through thousands of pictures and curating the best ones. In some cases, even trying to enhance them digitally. But I am bummed that many of the sellers don’t give credit to the artist or provide the name of the painting/print. One of the best parts of art is learning about who made it.
The good news is that anyone can search through these digital archives to find great art, and I fell into that rabbit hole over the weekend, sorting and scrolling through thousands of images. I downloaded any artwork that spoke to me. I learned about some really interesting artists and discovered the styles I like best. I’ve created a gallery page linking all these images on the blog (I’ll link it below). Maybe that will save some of you time if you’re looking for affordable art.
While searching, I realized there is an extensive amount of artwork out there just waiting for people to enjoy. It makes me sad to think that great art isn’t everywhere–especially when it can be nearly free! There should be a nonprofit organization or a staff member at every museum who consults with local businesses and government to have art in all public places and offices. Of course, it could be curated for the individual business or setting. It would be a great way to expose everyone to all this art just waiting for people to appreciate it.
Where to Find Free Art
This is a short list of websites where you can find public domain art. Of course, many smaller museums will also upload their artwork too, but this list will keep anyone busy for a while!
My Curated Collection
As mentioned above, I created this page on my blog to curate my favorite free art, and there was so much more that I saw that stood out to me but didn’t have enough time and capacity to download. I’m hoping to update the page slowly over time. Some of my favorites are below. For example, I love the North Woods Club and For to Be a Farmer’s Boy. Happy hunting!