How to Be Awesome at Decorating with Fan Art

Posted by Blair Thornburgh
Forget those generic-o prints of flowers from IKEA. Ditch your ripped-up Pulp Fiction poster from college. “Keep Calm and Carry On”? Over it. What your fortress of solitude needs are beautiful renderings of your favorite characters—and a printout collage won’t cut it. Here’s how to classily plaster your space with your OTP.

1. Plan out your gallery space
Pick a wall—or a whole room!—to devote to your fanart offerings. Make sure it’s not in direct sunlight (fading, yikes!) and not in a high-heat or moisture area (not above the stove or next to the shower, in other words). A wall above your desk or couch is optimal. 
Next, grab a measuring tape and measure the width of your area. Ideally, wall artwork should cover the middle 2/3 of the wall space. You can span that with one big piece, or divide that up between smaller pieces (this is a great way to represent multiple characters!) Keep that in mind when ordering your art—8×10” sounds big, but it’ll look pretty dinky on the wall by itself.
2. Find an artist you love
Start with a search through Tumblr tags for your fandom and “art.” Alternatively, browse through DeviantArt and look for stuff that strikes your fancy. Be as specific as you want—chances are, if you’ve thought it up in your headcanon, someone else has put it to paper, so go ahead and seek out Sherlock and Watson gettin’ snuggly. Once you’ve found your faves, reblog, bookmark, or pin the ones that you like. 
3. Get to their store
Artists deserve to be paid for their work—duh. Fortunately, the magic of the internet has made picking up high-quality versions of gorgeous fan works a one-click (or, okay, several-click) affair. Plug the artist’s handle into Society6 or Etsy and see if they have a shop set up, or click around on their DeviantArt for the option to buy prints of a particular work. You can expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $50 for unframed prints, depending on the size.
4. Commission something custom
Don’t see anything in particular you like, but love an artist’s style? Many artists will do custom artwork—or “commissions”—for a fee. This is a great way to support an a working artist and a fellow fan, and to get that perfect Tenth Doctor x Rose portrait you’ve always dreamed of. 
5. Framed or unframed?
Buying pre-framed artwork is convenient, but it costs more than a naked print. An inexpensive frame from an art supply store will save you a few bucks, and it isn’t that hard to frame yourself. However, if you’re investing in, say, a five-foot-wide limited-edition print of Smaug reclining on his hoard of jewels, you’ll probably want to get a professional mat-and-frame job done, either by the online store or a pro framer in your area. While you’re out shopping, pick up some picture hooks at your hardware store—they’re sold according to weight capacity, so guesstimate how heavy your framed beauty is if it’s light, or pop it on the bathroom scale if it’s a biggie.
6. Hang ‘em up
Secret tip: most people hang artwork wayyyy too high on their walls. Don’t be like that! Artwork should hang at eye-level, or sliiiightly above. Have a friend hold your beautiful new art against the wall, and check its position from a few steps away (remember the 2/3 rule from above?) If all looks good, mark the position of the top of the frame lightly with a pencil.
Flip your artwork over: if there’s a built-in notch or hook for a nail, measure the distance between the top of the notch and the top of the frame. If there’s a piece of picture wire, “hang” the wire on your finger and measure the distance between the top of the frame and the “hook” (aka your finger). Next, measure that same distance from your first mark on your wall and make a second mark. Take your picture hook and align it so that the hook part of the hook (not the nail itself!) is over the second mark, then carefully hammer it into place.
Hang your artwork on the hook, and use a level (or a smartphone level app) to make sure it’s in place. (Stepping back helps, too.) Then presto—you’ve got a beautiful new piece of geeky fanart spiffing up your space. 
Blair Thornburgh

Blair Thornburgh

BLAIR THORNBURGH is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where she earned a B.A. in medieval studies and delivered a pretty good commencement speech. She lives in Philadelphia.