If the phrase “art collecting” immediately conjures images of mansions and Mercedes, you’re not alone. But Delia LaJeunesse, founder of Subvert Art Consulting in Denver, believes aesthetes of all income levels can curate affordable art collections—if they follow her advice.

“Art collecting has such big misconceptions around it; lots of people think it’s completely out of the realm of possibility” LaJeunesse says. “But that isn’t true. It just takes time and knowing the right resources.”

LaJeunesse has helped clients decorate their entire homes for as little as $1,000, but she insists it’s possible to start your own collection at an even less money.

The first step when deciding what to hang on that living room wall, LaJeunesse says, is to determine what you’re drawn to. That means checking out Pinterest, browsing a magazine rack, or gathering ideas from your favorite hangouts. Peruse the local art scene to find artists who are creating works that match your vibe and your budget (hello, Instagram).

Once you’ve set a vision, it’s time to shop. (Still unsure? That’s fine. Just start looking around; the ideas will come.) Spend a weekend wandering local galleries, art markets, and thrift stores—we have some suggestions below—to see some art in person and envision how it’ll fit into your space.

It’s OK if you feel a little lost: LaJeunesse stresses that building a full collection takes time. “I wish people felt more empowered to explore art. It doesn’t have to be a pretentious, academic thing,” she says. “It really is more accessible than we perceive it to be.”

Where to Find Affordable Art Around Denver

Visitors peruse the booths at Jackalope Indie Artisan Fair. Photo courtesy of Jackalope Indie Artisan Fair

Get your artistic appreciation gears turning at some of LaJeunesse’s go-to spots around the Mile High City.

Local Galleries
If your budget is a bit more flexible, LaJeunesse recommends visiting galleries around the city. Not only will you be able to snag pieces by some of Denver’s most revered artists, but you’ll also support them directly. LaJeunesse’s favorites include BRDG Project, a Highland art collective that features contemporary art and hosts art markets with more affordable works on the third Saturday of every month, and Union Hall, a nonprofit arts space near Union Station that includes work from both local and global artists.

Emerging Artists on Instagram
If you want to support artists directly without dropping hundreds of dollars, LaJeunesse suggests finding emerging creatives and connecting with them personally. That might seem like a challenge if you’re not a RiNo regular, but that’s what social media is for. “Instagram has its flaws, but it really is such a great way to discover new artists,” LaJeunesse says. Try searching popular tags like #denverart, #denverartist, #denverartscene, #coloradoart, and #coloradoartist. And don’t be afraid to slide into an artist’s DM’s to inquire about the price and availability of a piece you spotted on their profile. You can also follow larger accounts that share the work of local artists, including Denver Arts & Venues (@denverarts), the Art District on Santa Fe (@denversartdistrict), or LaJeunesse herself (@sb.vrt).

Art Festivals
Countless art festivals take place in Colorado throughout the year, which is good news for those of us who can’t fly to Art Basel every year (or any year, for that matter). LaJeunesse looks forward to the annual Affordable Arts Festival in August, where nearly 200 creators from across the country sell their creations for less than $150 at Arapahoe Community College. Other smaller festivals, like Art on the Green, are perfect for collectors looking to add more Denver works to their walls. While you’ll have to mark your 2024 calendar for the next iteration of most of these events (many take place in the summer), you can still catch the Jackalope Indie Artisan Fair in Olde Town Arvada on October 14 and 15. There, you’ll find original works from visual artists, as well as handmade soaps, bags, and coffee from various local artisans. New this year: an online marketplace, so you can have your favorites delivered directly to your door.

Thrift Stores
Although LaJeunesse is a strong proponent of supporting living artists, she does turn to thrift stores for filler pieces and quality frames. “Frames are really expensive, and I always find really good ones when I thrift,” she says. LaJeunesse recently sourced newspaper clippings and old family photos from thrift stores around the metro area to fill in white space on her client’s walls. Check out 5280’s guide to thrifting to help you decide where to search.

Barbara O'Neil
Barbara O'Neil
Barbara is one of 5280's assistant editors and writes stories for 5280 and 5280.com.