A beginner’s guide to buying art

  • 20th Sep 20
A beginner’s guide to buying art

If your walls are bare and your home is lacking in personality, look to the world of art for ways to transform the space. Whether it is abstract, modern or expressionist art, if you are ready to turn those stark walls into a stylish centrepiece, read on.

Pick your spot
Don’t limit your artwork to just the living or dining room, art has the ability to give character to every room in the house and one of the most commonly forgotten areas is the kitchen. We spend most of our time in the kitchen so give it the attention it deserves with smaller pieces that won’t overwhelm the space. If you want to create a calming sanctuary in the bedroom, look for abstract pieces with soothing colourways with minimal-style frames. If you have a home office or a section of a room that is used as a workspace, art is a great way to keep you inspired. Consider a floating ledge shelf or gallery wall and choose an assortment of pieces that keeps you focussed. Make a soak at the end of the day even more enjoyable with a vibrant selection of artwork in the bathroom. You can go for a fun, quirky, abstract vibe or something a little more serene to make the space more inviting.

Do your research
Get to know the artists behind the work you like by following them on social media or reading up about them. Whatever budget you have, once you become invested in the artist, you will appreciate and love their work even more. Be patient. It takes time to find and love a piece of art so don’t rush to fill the space. Try to visit artist studios or visit local exhibitions and gradually build your confidence and knowledge about individual artists

Finding art to buy
You can buy directly from galleries or art fairs but if you are looking to build a substantial collection, it may be worth creating a relationship with an art advisor. Both galleries and individual artists will often collaborate with an art consultant who will have a wide understanding of the art world. This can be particularly beneficial for buyers who want to be able to attribute authorship and define authenticity. They can also help with offering a judgment on quality for each piece and understand the market value.

What art to choose
If you are visiting an art fair, take time to visit it properly. Pick up a catalogue and make notes on galleries and artists that you like. Understand the lingo especially when looking to invest in affordable art. Is the piece a one-off or part of a limited edition? Normally a painting is a one-off while photographs tend to be limited-editions, which means there will be at least one, if not many more made. However, the first limited editions are usually more in demand and can add value to your collection. 

Buy what you like
At the end of the day, art in your home is to be enjoyed so don’t feel pressurised into buying something that you are told you should like. Some galleries will allow you to take the picture home and try it to see if it fits in with your theme, and if not, you are allowed to return. Remember, art should evoke an emotional reaction in you so go back to pieces that kept your attention or stay lodged in your mind.

Art online
If you are not able to get to the galleries or fairs, then art can come directly to you. There’s lots of great paintings and prints that can be purchased online. Art is becoming increasingly accessible thanks to online retailers and caters for every budget and style out there. Artfinder is an online marketplace for original art from around the world. Although it is a huge site with more than 200,000 pieces listed, it is easy to browse thanks to its categories of both style and medium featuring budget friendly starter prices and work signed by the artist. Perhaps best known for its wide range of cards, Minted also sells prints, photography and drawings from artists worldwide. Artists have their own pages with links to all of their work. If you are looking to build a collection, SaatchiArt has an advisory service where experts will help you select original works selling on the site. If you want to find talent before they hit the big time, check out Tappan Collective, which aims to nurture emerging artists by connecting them to seasoned collectors. On the site, you can browse hand-made ceramics through to large-scale paintings.

Fine art photography
Often more budget-friendly, photography can be just as effective as a painting for creating a focal point to a room. From a striking portrait to an atmospheric landscape or digitally manipulated image, a large anchor piece can help small living spaces appear much larger. Photos of nature are also hugely meditative and calming and can set the tone and colourway of a room. Lumas is a network of more than 40 galleries worldwide with a digital arm making it easy to access wherever you are. The site specialises in high-quality, limited-edition works from big name photographers such as Edward Steichen, Helmut Newton and Horst P.

Before you buy

  • Do you have an emotional reaction to the piece?
  • Does the colour palette suit your home?
  • Do you know anything about the artist?
  • Is the piece unique?
  • Does the piece mean something to you?
  • Be open about different mediums.
  • Take your time to see what’s out there.
  • Select the right size piece for your home.
  • Enjoy the process and you will become more knowledgeable.






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