With so many options available to the new art buyer, it may seem daunting to have to choose between all the art out there in the world. But follow a few of these steps first and you will be able to shop and purchase new art with confidence.
1. Begin with a Broad Overview
If you are just looking into buying new art for the first time, or you are still new at the process, begin by surveying all the options out there so you can get a good feeling for what is available. This is a good time to get your bearings and have a feeling for the art landscape as a whole. If you know what type of art you want such as impressionist oil paintings or watercolor paintings, this narrows down the search. Great places to get a broad overview are live events such as art walks, art shows, open art galleries, or online art galleries. If you will be visiting an art walk or art event, most of these events have the artists’ work available online, so it’s a good idea to research the art work and pick out your favorite paintings before you go to the show.
2. Look at Artist Bio and Materials
Most artist will have a bio, resume, artist statement, or brochure describing who they are as an artist. This is a good opportunity to understand where their work is coming from, and allows you to connect with the art better. It also gives you the chance to see their past accomplishments and awards and how well known they are. Some artists also have a photo book of all their past paintings so you can see the range of all their work rather than just the few paintings they have displayed live.
3. Talk to the Artists
As artists, we love talking to people who are interested in our work. This is our life’s passion, so naturally we love talking about our work and hearing what you are looking for in a painting. If you like a particular painting, point it out to the artist, or if you have any questions, ask away. Artists get lots of lookie-loos at shows, so having a real conversation about a piece is fun for the artist and the buyer. You’d be surprised about how much you can learn from a brief chat about a painting with the artist. If you are looking for a painting for a particular room in your house or office, give the artist information about where you will hang the painting and what type of room it is, and they can help you decide what size painting will work the best.
4. Inspect the Artwork
When you find a painting that you are thinking of buying, take a closer look at the painting and look for any marks or dents on the canvas or frame. Ask questions about the materials of the painting, since you wan this to last a long time. Most artist paint on archival quality canvas or boards meant to last a long time, but it is good to double check for piece of mind. Ask about the painting process, and the artist can tell you how much work and thought went into the painting, information you normally wouldn’t get just by staring at the painting.
5. Purchase with Confidence
Once you have thoroughly inspected the painting you fell in love with, buy it! If you can afford the painting and you truly love it, a new painting will add richness and joy to your life. If you are buying in person, all artists will take cash, and most can accept credit card through their gallery or through the art show they are exhibiting at. Buying paintings online is quickly becoming more and more common, and it is very safe if you are buying from a trustworthy site. One way to buy from an individual artist online is by purchasing their art directly from their website and paying with PayPal (like I have set up). PayPal is a very safe credit card processing system that protects the buyer’s credit or debit card information and pays the artist. Alternative ways to buy from the artist are through their eBay auction or Etsy store online.
6. If You’re Undecided
There are two common situations when buyers find an artist they love, but they are unsure on buying a specific painting. First, most artists will allow a local buyer to try out a painting in their home for a week. This is an excellent way to test drive the art and see how it will look once you get it home. The best way to do this is to walk into the gallery where the artist is displaying and talk to them personally. If you live within a reasonable distance from the gallery they will often let you take the painting home once they have your credit card on file as a backup. The second option is to commission a piece from the artist. Some artists do not do commissions, but a lot of them are open to paint a custom scene or portrait for you. A lot of commissions are based of a sentimental memory the buyer has, whether it is a scene near the town they grew up in, or a figure painting of one of their loved ones. Talk to your artist and they will most certainly be happy to work with you.
Buying a new art piece can be a time consuming, but overall satisfying process. Some art buyers know exactly what they want when they see it, while others have to take awhile to decide. Everybody is a bit different, so working with your favorite artist and asking them questions will make the process much smoother.
There are added perks to buying a piece of art that you love, since a lot of artist continue the relationship with their collectors after the piece is sold. Many artists will send their collectors images of their new art before they put it out for sale to the public. Also, artists will often invite people who have bought their art so special art events and shows, or give private showings. In the end, it’s a beautiful process, and I think we can all agree we need a little more art in the world.