Your Guide to Buying Affordable Contemporary Art Posters

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Your Guide to Buying Affordable Contemporary Art Posters

Posters are a popular choice for collectors of many different kinds of art. A key benefit of posters over paintings, prints and other media is that posters are often much more affordable than these, particularly in the case of contemporary posters.

There are numerous different kinds of contemporary art poster, from abstract designs to film and music posters, and portraits of famous celebrities. Different kinds of poster from numerous different eras, including the contemporary, can be found on eBay.

Contemporary Art

Art, be it in the form of sculpture, paintings, prints and posters, can be broadly defined by the time they were produced. When identifying a poster as contemporary, it can be useful to know the other classifications.

Antique art is widely considered to be that produced before the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Art at this time was often realist, with a clear basis in physical reality.  Antique posters are often more expensive, and can be more difficult to obtain than more recent pieces. Popular antique posters include surviving advertisements from the late Nineteenth Century and earlier, and posters featuring art from this era are also popular.

In terms of era, modern art generally refers to that which was produced during the Twentieth Century. During this era, numerous more abstract styles rose to prominence for the first time. However, more realist work also maintained its popularity. Vintage movie posters and abstract designs are a popular kind of modern poster, and photography began to emerge as an art form during this period.

Contemporary art is that which was produced from the last few decades of the Twentieth Century up to the present day. A wide variety of different styles, including realist and abstract works, are available. Popular contemporary posters often feature different kinds of art, as well as pictures of celebrities, movie posters and other similar works. Developments in digital and photographic technology, including printing techniques, have allowed for new kinds art work.

Contemporary Styles

There are a few key popular styles which are widely available in contemporary work, including in poster form.


Realism is one of the oldest forms of art, and strives to realistically present physical reality. A wide range of subjects are covered by realist art, and photographic works are sometimes included in this category. Popular realist posters can include paintings, drawing or photographs of natural landscape scenes, cityscapes and animals.

Modern Art

Modern is a very broad term that can be used to mean a number of different styles. Modern art is often a rejection of realist work, though can appear similar. Modern works are often self-referential, drawing attention to the materials used in the piece, and to the fact that it is an art work. Modern works often attempt to break the ‘fourth wall’. Alternatively, modern art is sometimes used to refer to art which was produced during the early contemporary period, as well as more recent pieces.

Pop Art

Pop art emerged during the modernist period, during the 1960’s. This type of art rapidly grew in popularity, and remained so into contemporary works. Pop art includes characters, objects and other elements from popular contemporary culture. This marked a shift in art, challenging and rejecting the principles of more traditional fine art, which eschewed popular contemporary trends and culture. Pop art can take on a comic book style aesthetic, as well as realist and abstract styles. Pop art posters can often include references to popular movie franchises, or musical acts.


Surrealism is a popular style of art which emerged in the 1920’s, and remains popular into the contemporary period. Surrealism can sometimes be seen as similar to abstract work, though they are distinct and separate styles. Surrealist work emphasise surprising and unusual contrasts and juxtapositions, often placing ordinary objects into highly unusual situations. Posters featuring surrealist art are a popular choice.


Distinct from surrealism, abstract work often has no immediately apparent connection to physical reality; as abstract artists often do not take visual reference from reality. These works often use a chaotic combination of form, colour, and line to represent ideas, concepts and emotions. Abstract art emerged in the early years of the modern period, and remain a popular style in contemporary work.

Photographic and Digital Posters

The contemporary period offers artists a great deal of options in how they can produce their work. High quality photographs and digitally produced artwork are popular forms of contemporary art. Photographic posters will often feature images of celebrities, musicians and actors.

Subjects of the Artwork

Another key element of a poster is the subject matter that it features. Many collectors will have a preference of type of subject matter, and emphasise this in their poster collection. Contemporary posters often also feature subject matter, such as advertisements and celebrity subjects, which is not as widely found in other media.


Advertisement posters are a popular type of poster, with rarer advertisement posters sometimes becoming desirable collectable items. These posters can include film advertisement posters, large outdoor adverts, and adverts for clothes, perfume and other items. Older vintage advertisements can be more expensive and difficult to obtain than more affordable, recent posters.

Celebrities and Pin-Ups

Celebrity and pin up posters are another popular type of poster. These posters are often photographic images, with an emphasis on the personalities they display. These posters are often popular with both poster collectors and fans of individual celebrities. Musicians, actors, models and other personalities are the most common subject of these posters.


Landscapes and cityscapes have been a popular art type throughout history, and are a popular and widely available type of contemporary poster. Traditional landscapes often focus on the countryside and villages, though many posters often feature more exotic locations and scenes. Many landscape posters are photographic in nature.


Animals of all kinds are a popular subject for posters, often featuring artistic or high quality photographic styles. These posters can feature domestic animals, wildlife and birds, in different poses and situations. Horses, dogs and big cats are among the most popular subjects of posters.

Movie Posters

Movie posters are one of the most popular types of poster, and can include a huge variety of styles including realist, abstract and photographic depictions.  These can often feature highly stylised works, and can often feature key characters in a similar fashion to pin-up posters. Posters of more recent movies are often more affordable and widely available, while those from older or less popular films can be harder to obtain, some of them coming to be seen as collector’s items.

Colour or Monochrome

Another categorisation of posters can be into their use of colour. Colour posters feature full colour, whereas monochrome posters are black and white.

In contemporary art, colour posters are the most widely available, and are used for all styles and types of poster. Due to the development of printing and photographic technology, coloured posters have become far more widespread than older types of poster.

Monochrome posters are still frequently available, though are a less common choice in the depiction of many subjects. Due to the ease with which modern colour posters can be produced, monochrome pieces in contemporary art are as such due to artistic design. Monochrome is perhaps most commonly used for portraits of people, and can sometimes be used to stylise cityscapes and landscapes.

The selection of colour or monochrome posters, like many aspects of affordable poster buying, can come down to personal preference.

How to Buy an Affordable Contemporary Art Poster on eBay

A wide range of contemporary art posters, featuring different subjects and styles, can be found on eBay. The full listing of available contemporary posters can be viewed under the Collectables & Antiques section. Contemporary Posters can be found under Posters in the Art section. Items can be categorised by price, condition, and distance to seller, as well as by subject, colour and style. The Auction and Buy it Now are also available, providing flexibility in how a contemporary poster can be bought.

Key information about a poster, such as type and size, will often be prominently displayed in the item listing, making it easy to quickly ascertain whether an item meets any requirements. Further information about an item can be found on the item page, which also provides information about the seller such as item reviews and feedback ratings. It is also possible here to ask the sellera question regarding the item.

If a specific poster is required, it may be easier and faster to use the search function available at the top of every page. Searches can be made within specific categories, or to return results from the entire site. Further information on effective use of the search function can be found on the Search Tips page.


A wide range of contemporary art posters is available, covering all kinds of subject matter, style and suitable for many different tastes and interests.  Posters such as movie posters, portraits and wildlife posters are all widely available, and affordable contemporary posters can easily be found on eBay.

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