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Cover your walls: Express yourself with unexpected art in Austin

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While it can be enjoyable to wander Austin's gallery district, you can end up filled with others' visions instead of your own. From a dorm room to a mid-century house, you can express your style by exploring the world of art. Your discoveries can establish a mood of romance or whimsy, making you and your guests feel right at home. Here are five places to begin your hunt for pieces that feel authentic to you, outside of a traditional gallery.

We all want to have a sense of place. Searching out artists' studios, coops, or galleries that specialize in newly discovered artists can provide you with fresh, but reasonable options. Austinites can find this type of art at Austin Art Garage, or through following your favorite artists from previous EAST studio tours.

Thrift, resale and vintage shops are enjoyable as the stock changes often. You'll never be sure what you might find. If you're a fan of kitsch, thrifting is the perfect way to start decorating your space. As pieces are often inexpensive, you can bring out your inner artist by modifying them to suit your space. In Austin, art is everywhere. You can visit a more traditional consignment shop such as Next to New or true thrift stores like Thrift House (Operation School Bell). For those who want a more curated experience with disposable income to spare, vintage stores like Uncommon Objects usually have unique picks.

If you know where to look, garage sales or flea markets do occur year round. If you're living in a newer neighborhood, try scouting out parts of your city that are well-established. Listings can usually be found on Craigslist or your local Yahoo group. Try to think outside of the box on your hunt for your vision. You can cannibalize works that don't suit your home to find vintage frames at a fraction of the cost of new ones. Austinites can enjoy the thrill of the hunt year-round at the City-Wide Garage Sale, which occurs over eight weekends spread over the year.

Are you looking for photography or vintage-inspired finds, your local Etsy group can often custom create or alter a piece to suit your needs. The Austin Etsy community holds periodic shows where you can check out their wares in person. You can explore their wares at the Austin Craft Riot website.

Finally, if you look up from your fantastic dining companions, you may discover a new realm of art. Many coffee houses and restaurants hold their own mini exhibitions for local artists. The Austin area is lucky to have a large amount of locally-owned eateries. A few places you can get a bite and find your next favorite piece include Austin Java Cafe and Coffeehouse, Hyde Park Bar and Grill and the original Kerbey Lane.

Remember to keep your eyes open for art in unexpected places. With all of our locally-owned businesses, there are always opportunities to find your next piece.

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