How to Decorate Like a Geek: And Do it Cheap
The best thing about decorating like a geek is that you don’t have to spend your entire paycheck to do it. Sure, you can spend thousands on a custom game table and big name artists, but you can also do it inexpensively.
Decorating on The Cheap
Whether it’s your first home after college or a little later in life, the idea of decorating your home can be daunting for many reasons, not the least of which is the expense. So how do you decorate your home in a geek chic you love but without breaking the bank?
Start with Your Collectibles
Do you collect Funko Pop! Figures, action figures, or even miniatures for role-playing? These are a great place to start with your decorating. If you aren’t ready to go geek in the whole house just yet, pick a room and pick a theme. In my office everything is Nightmare Before Christmas, and in my bedroom, Todd McFarlane’s Movie Maniacs used to grace the shelves in front of our movie collection. My Where the Wild Things Are action figures are on a high shelf in the kitchen.
Even if you start with just a shelf or two, the things you already collect are often great for decorating. In the game room, some of the giant-sized miniatures from Pathfinder and D&D add fantasy accents to book shelves. Game maps can be put in an inexpensive frame and display your love of Faerun or Greyhawk and cost almost nothing.
And if you have a favorite artist associated with your fandom, check online to see if they have artwork available that you can afford. We are huge fans on Brom who did the cover artwork for Deadlands and some Shadowrun material in the ’90s. Sure enough when we checked, he had some prints of the art we loved available online.
Check out Kickstarter or Patreon
If you already support some of your favorite geek hobbies or fandoms on Kickstarter, check to see if the Kickstarter offers art prints as an add-on item or stretch goal. Our living room is primarily the artwork of Richard Luong, who first came to our attention as the artist for the Cthulhu Wars Kickstarter. Prints of Luong’s take on the Cthulhu Mythos were available through the Kickstarter and then larger prints were available through his Etsy page.
We have opted for larger prints, but framing the Kickstarter prints is a great way to get more art on your walls for a low investment, maybe even something you were investing in anyway. Several Kickstarters have included an art print as a stretch goal, including such board games Krosmaster Arena and Ghostbusters.
Patreon is another great source for relatively inexpensive artwork. Our current favorite is Clarissa Baut Stetson who send out oversized postcards of her artwork about once a month. Stetson created a series of paintings based on traditional fairy tales. Each piece features the outline of a large animal that somehow figures into the story and then various details of the story are painted inside the beast.
For example, her wolf for Little Red Riding Hood has the girl and her basket traipsing through the woods of the wolf’s chest. The oversized postcards are suitable for framing or shelf display and supporting Stetson’s efforts through Patreon is about $5 a month. Consider looking through Patreon for artists that work in your fandom as a way to decorate on the cheap and support artists.
Visit Artist Alley
Few geeks out there have passed up the opportunity to go to one of the multitude of comic cons and gaming conventions that seem to be everywhere. After visiting your favorite celebrities, listening to the panel discussions and checking out the cosplay, head over to artist alley. While some cons will have the biggest names in the industry and prices that go with the big name, even at the big conventions it’s possible to find lesser known artists who are simply trying to make a living.
At the small comic con held each spring in Oaks, we found the artwork for two rooms in our house. Artist Tommy Castillo’s work is also available for purchase online, but if we hadn’t found him in the artist alley we would never have known the name. Before his death, Tommy also worked briefly with Wyrd on their Malifaux game.
Many artists also offer prints at discounted prices at comic cons, especially on the last day. Castillo’s Nightmare Before Christmas pieces are the primary ones in my office. His Dark Oz, a new take on Dorothy and her companions was the primary artwork in our bedroom for 7 years. We recently replaced it with a series of Alex Ross prints featuring Universal Monsters.
Just one word of caution though: If the artist you are looking for work from is a big name, know the approximate value of their prices before you go to a con. While at Wizard World Philly, we saw an Alex Ross piece that we had previously purchased on eBay. This is a Marvel licensed picture and a limited edition. The price at the show, which was allegedly discounted 30%, was several hundred dollars more than we paid for ours.
Ask a Creator!
One of the things we wanted for our living room was throw blankets both for when it was a little chilly and to help offer longer-term protection for our furniture.
We had decided to go with a Cthulhu theme in that room and there were no Cthulhu blankets that matched what we wanted. So we asked our favorite artist in the genre if it would be possible to get his artwork printed on blankets. He was thrilled to be asked and happy to work with us to get digital files of his artwork to the printer who made the blankets. Now we have his art on the walls and on our chairs.
Decorating your home in your geek style doesn’t have to be expensive if you simply get a little creative.