Where Do Interior Designers Buy Artwork for Their Clients?

Nothing finishes a space like a beautiful piece of luxury fine art. Carefully curated pieces have the power to reimagine a space, creating illusions of depth, breadth, and size. However, they’re also hard to come by, and finding the right piece to fit every interior decorating job can be problematic.

Whether it’s a living room or dining room, an interior designer’s choice of art influences the rest of a project, and many decorators spend long hours searching for the perfect piece.

Desert Nomad

Desert Nomad, Max Foster's limited edition photography print of White Sands National Park in New Mexico from his Southwest gallery collection.

Flea Markets and Secondhand Shops

A flea market is one of the first places a savvy designer will look. Alternatively, designers may seek art in a secondhand or thrift store. Both solutions present unique arrays of styles, tastes, and visual appeal. Some may refer to this practice as “picking,” as buyers carefully pick and choose individual pieces to fit their needs.

However, choosing the right piece for a space can be difficult, and finding the perfect art for a room may be near impossible in the chaotic environment of thrift stores and flea markets. Most of these locations have little to no organization, and the quality of their products will vary.

Henry's Woods

Henry's Woods, Max Foster's limited edition photography print of a red barn in winter from his Minnesota gallery collection.

Antique Stores, Galleries, and Auctions

To overcome the wide variance in quality presented at flea markets and thrift stores, some interior designers opt to shop at upscale retailers.

Antique stores, galleries, and auctions curate collections of fine art and furnishings, with many specializing in a particular style or time period. As such, the offerings at these venues will be more cohesive and guarantee a level of quality that is difficult to find.

The attention to detail required of these stores has a cost, though, and both venues tend to have high prices. Moreover, these specialized locations may have restricted schedules and require planning to access. Particularly picky antique vendors may not have standard office hours, opting to demand that customers call ahead to schedule showroom visits. For busy designers, these limitations may present excessive challenges.


Reverence, Max Foster's limited edition photographic print of a Moss Glen Falls in Vermont from his Waterfall gallery collection.

General Retailers and Craft Stores

As an option for overcoming specialized retailers' restrictions and price limits, some designers prefer purchasing generic art from retail stores. Many large retailers and common names sell such pleasing furnishings, usually printed on various objects. Canvases, pillows, and shower curtains are common surfaces for these products.

As with thrift stores, the quality of these products will vary. Some prefabricated home decor is of impeccable quality, making it indistinguishable from genuine equals. Other options are lower quality, and the resultant prints showcase poor resolutions and blurred details.

Moreover, many generic canvases and prints found in larger stores are — as their name implies — generic. While these mass-produced art pieces are cheap, they often lack the intimacy and precision of fine art. A retail print may have stunning visual qualities but lacks any identity; it’s a generalized and widely appealing piece without meaning.

This problem poses the question of whether or not such examples are genuinely worthy of being considered fine art. While their wide appeal may be perfect for staging small spaces, these pieces lack the grandeur and attention to detail that defines polished interior design.

Endlessly Changing Horizon

Endlessly Changing Horizon, Max Foster's limited edition photography print of Kofa National Wildlife Refuge from his Abstract Nature gallery collection.

Buying Direct From Artists

Finally, interior designers can overcome these problems by finding artists online. Purchasing directly from a vendor ensures that both parties receive the optimal amount of care and attention, and the proceeds from such transactions have a profound impact on individual artists.

When artists and designers have a direct relationship, the outcome is undeniably superior. Designers can find or request pieces to fit any style, even unique and hard-to-match spaces. For example, clients of Max Foster Photography enjoy personal attention and an unbeatable dedication to quality. The prints are made-to-order and will be customized to fit the individual client's need.

Moreover, individual relationships foster a connection between designers and clients. Should a client enjoy a piece, designers can recommend the individual artists as a source.


Archrivals, Max Foster's limited edition photographic print of the Mobius Arch in the Alabama Hills, California from his Mountain gallery collection.

Final Thoughts About Art Acquisition

While there are plenty of options for acquiring fine art to match any interior color scheme, the best choice will usually be an individual one. Forging relationships with artists is a wonderful way to expand the possibilities of any interior design. Unlike art collectors or large retailers, individual artists and artisans can create pieces for precise situations. Moreover, a touch of personality can be added to a wholly unique piece of fine art.

This is not to say that general retailers and thrift stores are bad sources of fine art. With great effort, any source can become a lucrative interior design supplier. However, opting for an individual approach gives both the designer and the artist more room for growth and specificity, and the resulting attention to detail can make any space shine.

Ephemeral Moments

Ephemeral Moments, Max Foster's limited edition photography print of Grand Teton in Wyoming from his Mountain gallery collection.