Craft & Design Energy & Sustainability
Altered thrift store art:  Some personal faves

Unknown, via Reddit.

Banksy Frontier.jpg

Banksy, via Flickr user goldenticket.

It’s a simple idea: Find some bad art, whether original or a print, for a song at a thrift store, then modify it to make, if not “better art,” then at least something that’s more entertaining to look at. (Is it the same thing? Yeah, that sounds like a productive argument.)

Anyway. To quote a great sage, “there’s a lot of guys doing it, but only one guy can be the best.” That title probably goes to pseudonymous British graffiti artist Banksy. Most of the work presented below is his, but there are one or two gems from less-notables. I especially like the bland mountain landscape improved by the addition of an apocalyptic-scale katamari…


Etsy seller loudxmouse.

Banksy, via Flickr user Darrell Godliman.

supposedly banksy toxic waste.jpg

Reportedly Banksy, via Reddit.


Unknown, via Reddit.

Banksy Take a Rest.jpg

Banksy, via Flickr user poly_mnia.

Banksy Boat.jpg

Banksy, via Flickr user goldenticket.

giant robot.jpg

Unknown, via Reddit.

Banksy System Error.jpg

Banksy, via Flickr user SteeveeGee.

vacant 2 BDRM.jpg

Woodgill at Monocol’s Etsy shop.

gibbon visits the arctic.jpg

Woodgill at Monocol’s Etsy shop.

Woodgill at Monocol’s Etsy shop.

Did I miss a good one? Do you know who made the “unknown” works above? Comment below or e-mail me directly.

98 thoughts on “Altered thrift store art: Some personal faves

  1. Looking at these has seriously inspired me to high-tail it on over to our local thrift store and see the cheesy paintings in a whole new light. Sheer awesome.

  2. My college roommates and I painted an atomic cloud in a nice country scene once.  We weren’t very talented, but our addition was as bad as the painting so it fit right in.  It hung on our wall and got plenty of double takes.

  3. I’m pretty sure I went to high school with the person who did the first one (with the octopus). I can’t remember his name though! Gah! I can clearly see it hanging in the vis arts gallery though, right next to the elevator… either during the senior retrospective or sometime before that. I just checked the video of our first gallery opening of the year, and that painting wasn’t in there, so it must have been an opening I didn’t film.

  4. I really hope none of these were original works and were only prints. Adding to someone’s work, whether an enhancement or not is fucked up. Think of the artist’s that produced the originals and how sad this would make them. Create your own base painting and add abstractions, don’t make a joke of someone else’s work.

    1. The base paintings were a joke to begin with. I mean, if Bob Ross saw these, he’d spin in his grave! The color scheme is far too muted, the subjects are generic, I could go on. The fact that someone could alter it in a way to give the viewer a reason to remember the paintings at all should make the artist feel good.

    2. So you are saying if I took a piss on (in, really) Duchamps “fountain”, that would diminish the value? Lets face it, the dadaist and surrealist movements won a long time ago. We’ve been struggling to put value back into the farce that is the “art market” ever since someone had the balls to throw a rake on a wall and call it art. We were called out, and we couldn’t back our shit up. There is no true value to an artist’s work once it is sold, or else they would never have sold it. They got the cash, to hell with product the unlucky sod bought.

      call me a troll, or an artist that can’t sell their shit. (fuck the fucking fuckers who would care anyway.) I call em’ as I see em’. Or, I colosseum.

      In other news, I’m pretty sure they are all prints; hence, they all look muted and dully generic.

    3. Well you know, without the original artists opinion, your comment is just a shot in the dark. In fact, you don’t even know if the original artists like these or not. It is not ‘fucked up’ they look perfectly fine, and they are painted just right to fit in, and I don’t think the artists intention was to make a joke out of someone else work. So please calm your pants. Anywho…. I think they’re beautifully painted, kudos to the original artists, and the one who added on.

    4. the reason the art is in the thrift store is obviously because no one wanted it on thier wall….usually before things are donated family and friends go through it and snag anything that they like…if you go to a thrift store picture area these days it is mostly hidious art that no one wanted anyway….they could have burned it or thrown it away,but instead donated it….at least now there is some recognition

    5. Art is to be shared, and expanded upon. Music has remixes why can’t art? Art is for pleasure and expression not to be differentiated into different classes or held upon a pedestal. Art should be accessible to all, and I’m sure most artists feel the same and would find great pleasure in others adding or remixing their originals. It is not a joke it is expression and no one should attempt to hinder anyone’s expression. I think you really need to reconsider your thought on this matter.  

  5. I really hope none of these were original works and were only prints. Adding to someone’s work, whether an enhancement or not is fucked up. Think of the artist’s that produced the originals and how sad this would make them. Create your own base painting and add abstractions, don’t make a joke of someone else’s work.

  6. Banksy wasn’t it? well some of them the one of the people dancing on the beach with the tanker behind them was because my friends dad has the same print in his front room, the one with the worker girl sitting on the side of the picture was also a picture he made i do believe. but i may be wrong.

  7. I love this!!! I don’t promote defacing other people’s art, and in my opinion that is not what is taking place here. When paintings die they don’t go to heaven or hell, they go to Goodwill. These boring drab prints have new life thanks to another artist’s vision. They are undoubtedly well loved and hanging in someone’s home, business or office. As a fellow artist I’m excited at the prospect of finding a misunderstood piece to play with. I think this is a fun and playful creative exercise. I can’t wait to try it!

  8. What you’re all doing is a federal offense punishable with up to $150000 per work. No one has the right to change or alter an original painting without the written permission from the original artist, no matter how ugly the painting might be or where is found. The reason some “master” paintings end up at thrift stores is because of ignorance. Many master pieces have been rediscovered on thrift stores and even abandoned garages after they were thought to be lost. That does not give anyone the right to change them or alter them.

    The copyright law is serious matter, and not knowing it, won’t excuse you from a big fat lawsuit.

    Pray none of these artists find what you guys have been doing with those paintings.

    Learn the law before you keep at it and promoting your federal violations on the internet

Comments are closed.


I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan