How to Buy Fine Art as a Christmas Present
Fine art isn't the first thing that usually comes to mind when you of Christmas presents, but a painting or sculpture, for some, could be the perfect present.
For me and many others Christmas presents that are thoughtful and beautiful are truly the best gifts. I like presents that come from the heart so when someone goes to the extra trouble to find something completely unique and wraps it up under the tree for me I am in absolute heaven. That’s why in the past five years I have started buying paintings and modern sculpture as Christmas presents for almost all of my friends and family. After all, they are special to me, so why shouldn’t they receive something special for Christmas!
How to Begin
First, I would recommend thinking about the gift recipient’s tastes. In what style is their home decorated? What kind of clothes do they wear? What kind of jewelry do they wear? Do they like color or do they prefer neutral tones?
Style and Color
Think about what kind of fine art would they like? Do they prefer sculpture bowls or figurative sculptures for bookshelves? Or do you think that they would prefer something to hang on the wall? Do they have a particular inclination to a certain medium – for example do they just love clay or have they recently fallen in love with encaustic painting? If you can't remember, ask their friends if they've mentioned any particular artists or galleries lately.
Also think about what colors they wear? What colors are their walls and furniture? Do they they really love blue or orange? Dark bold colors or pastels? If you have access, I recommend taking a few pictures of their home or office and bringing it with you when you go shopping.
Don't wouldn’t worry about where they’re going to put it. If someone loves a piece of fine art, they’ll always find a place for it in their home. I personally, have gotten beautiful gifts of fine art or sculpture even when I had a tiny apartment and I always found a special place for it.
You'll need to take into account logistics. Can you deliver it yourself or will you need to ship it?
If you need to ship it, allow at least two weeks before Christmas. I recommend asking the artist if they can ship the piece for you. Most artists or galleries are happy to ship directly and many will also include a personalized note from you – making the gift even more special.
If you have the flexibility to deliver it yourself I invite you to go wild. Large paintings or multiple modern wall sculptures can really brighten a home or office.
The Best Places to Find Fine Art
The Online Option
The top online gallery that I recommend for fine art is http://saatchiart.com. Their collection is juried so all of the paintings and sculpture is of the highest quality. Their artists, however, are from all over the world, so you may want to consider where an artist is located before you order from them. For example, if you are located in the US, an artist in China might not have enough lead-time to ship for Christmas. Saatchi artists ship directly from their studios so shipping is quick and efficient.
Etsy.com is also an option, but keep in mind that it's not juried. It can be a great place to find emerging artists but you'll need to invest some time to sift through the copious number of items. If you’re seeking more affordable fine art it might be a good site to visit. I would recommend typing in ‘Fine Art Sculpture’ or ‘Fine Art Painting’ in the search tab. If you see a piece of work that you like, I recommend clicking through the artists’ shop. There’s likely a much larger selection of work in the shop and you may find just what you’re looking for! Also, if you're looking for an original piece make sure that their is only one available - sometimes artists mislabel prints as original and production ceramicists make multiple of the same thing.
Shopping in Person
If you’d really like to see and feel the art before you buy, I recommend visiting local galleries or your local arts district. Here in Asheville, we have the River Arts District, where I am located, which has over 185+ artist studios, the majority of which have regular gallery hours. In most instances, the artists will happily help you pick out just the right gift and some even have gift wrapping! Just outside Washington, DC, there is the Torpedo Factor Art Center, where I once bought a wonderful raku modern ceramic sculpture of a bear for my stepmother. She LOVED it! I was even hearing about it three Christmases later.
Ask around or goggle 'art gallery', 'arts district' or 'artist' to see what is in your area.
Happy holidays and good luck finding the perfect Christmas gift for your friends and family!