This Artist Adds Flair to Thrift Store Paintings and Sells Them for $800 Each

upcycling thrift-store paintings
David Irvine, The Gnarled Branch on Facebook

There’s upcycling, and then there’s upcycling, and Canadian artist David Irvine is doing the latter.

For over a decade Irvine has salvaged trashy paintings from thrift stores and updated the art by painting pop culture characters into them. Imagine the Death Star looming over a quaint river cabin or Doctor Who and his TARDIS appearing in a Thomas Kinkade work.

“I hate seeing waste, and when I see a painting collecting dust on a shelf, I see potential, not garbage,” Irvine told ABC News.

He’s not just decorating his home; he’s making some nice side cash, with each work selling for anywhere from $300 to $800.

When Thrift Store Art Gets Upcycled

Irvine isn’t the only artist performing “involuntary collaborations” with thrift store work. Other impressive artists include Chris McMahon (who also does originals), Thryza Segal and Dave Pollot.

Clearly, as long as bad thrift-store art exists, talented artists will repurpose it for laughs and a little cash. If you like this idea and want to start your own business sticking monsters and Jedi into old paintings, make sure you come up with your own unique approach; Dave Pollot, for example, has an entire Futurama-themed series.

Not into pop culture or monsters? Take a cue from some of these creatives! Blogger Elsie Larson of A Beautiful Mess transformed a thrift store painting into a song lyric, and you could do the same with your favorite motivational quote. And blogger Ashley of Under the Sycamore turned an old still life into a paint-by-numbers-style pop art piece.

If you really get creative, you can sell your projects on your own website like some of the artists mentioned here, or lean on Etsy to make some cash. This crafty mom makes $70,000 a month on Etsy!

Need a source of materials? Check your local Goodwill or other thrift shop for paintings. Habitat for Humanity ReStore or other building material reuse centers have paint and other supplies. And your local Creative Reuse Center can hook you up with anything you can’t find at the other thrift stores.

Go ahead and get crafty — your walls will thank you.

For more details on how Irvine turns old, unwanted thrift store paintings into in-demand art, read the full story on ABC News.

Your Turn: Have you ever upcycled art like this? Did you try to sell it?

Rachel Kaufman may or may not be two dozen hamsters masquerading as one human in a trench coat.