How to Buy Beautiful Fine Art that you Love
Buying art can be a daunting task (especially if you've never done it before). The art world has been built up in our culture to an intangible place where only the knowledgable are welcome....but that's not true about 90% of time. So don't worry. I'm here to help and to guide you through the process so you have an experience buying art that you throughly enjoy!
After all, I believe that buying art should be fun...and something that you look back on with great fondness. So let's get started.
Decide What you Want
The most important decision in looking for the art is deciding the perimeters of what you want and for where you want it.
Where. Do you have a specific place in your home that you want to brighten up? For instance, in your living room or your office? Is it a wall, a table or pedestal that you would like to decorate?
Size. What are the dimensions? I recommend getting out a tape measure and writing down the dimensions of the space you'd like to decorate.
Visualizing. Take pictures of the space that you want to decorate from several different angles …including the opposite walls….and bring them with you. This way the gallery owner and/or artist can see what the space’s light situation is, what the overall style of the room is and what other colors are in the room. They can often help you think through what kind of piece to buy. The pictures can also serve as a reference for you while you're shopping.
What Speaks to You
Color. What colors do you like? Do you prefer pastels? Or dramatic colors? Keep in mind your preferences as you shop so you can let gallery owners and/or artists know - they might have something in the back or can recommend a gallery that carries those color tones. In addition, on-line galleries often allow you to search by color preference.
Style. What style of art do you like? Abstract? Realistic? Landscapes? Free-form? Don’t think about what people expect to see in your house or even what your friends have in their houses. Think about what makes you go wow when you see it. And again, be clear about what you like as you start shopping. Open communication will make the process go much faster and be much more enjoyable.
Emotion. Most importantly, how do you want to feel when you walk into the room? Do you want to feel calm? Inspired? Bold? Write down the first five words that come to mind and bring the list with you when you go art shopping. When you see a work that makes you feel any of these feelings pull out the list and see if it hits all of the feelings listed.
Where to Look
Where to look is often the most daunting part of art shopping, but don't worry there's plenty of venues and opportunities. But first you'll need to decide what your comfort level is with experiencing art in person before you buy it.
If you’re comfortable shopping online there’s a growing number of art galleries online, but there’s only a few that I recommend. Among them are:
https://www.saatchiart.com (paintings and sculpture)
http://www.zatista.com/ (paintings only)
Galleries. If there’s a specific gallery that you’ve visited in the past even if it's in another town, I recommend taking a look at their website. If you see something that you like, call the gallery and see if it is available. Most galleries are happy to do an over the phone transaction and ship.
My favorite galleries are:
Atelier Gallery in Charleston, SC
Blue Spiral 1 in Asheville, NC
Habatat Galleries in West Palm Beach, FL
Specific Artists. In addition, a growing number of artists (me among them) have work for sale on their website. If there’s artist that you’ve seen and loved their work, I recommend visiting their website and seeing if there is anything that you like. You may also consider calling them to check if they have any newly completed work and if they would be willing to send you photographs. I do this regularly. If the client decides they want a piece I then send them a paypal invoice and ship the piece out the next day.
Google. If you can't think of a particular artist but you know exactly what type of art you want to buy (for example an encaustic painting) I suggest googling it and see what artists come up. If an artist has gone through enough trouble to get their website to come up on a google search they're likely to have a pretty comprehensive website.
Pinterest and instagram. A growing way to find artists is through social media. Many of the more savvy artists are now on pinterest and instagram, both of which are easily searchable. So for instance if you're interested in modern sculpture I recommend researching using terms such as modern sculpture and #modernsculpture. I've found some pretty incredible artists this way. In fact, feel free to visit my pinterest boards for inspiration. I'm constantly curating artists for my boards.
If you go the online route, just be aware that a lot of artists have a no return policy (but in some cases you can exchange), so be prepared to invest in that artist.
Shopping in Person
If you’re new to buying art or not comfortable shopping online I recommend looking at what is in your area.
Ask Around. Is there an art district or art center near by? If you don't know, ask your people that you collect art.
Do a Google Search. Try googling the name of your town and/or nearby towns and the words "art district", "art center" “painter” “sculptor” or “artist” depending on what you’d like to buy...and see if anything interesting comes up. Often times, google will also bring up a map of your search for easy reference.
See Everything. Once you've decided where you want to look, I recommend taking an afternoon and walking through all of them. If there is an artist or gallery that you decide you like in particular after seeing everything, go back to it and introduce yourself. If you like the genre of art they have in the gallery but didn’t see a piece that really spoke to you, let them know. They might have work in the back or an upcoming show that might be have something perfect for you. Sign up for their newsletter.
Trust your Instincts
A lot of guides to art buying will have pages and pages about appraisers and making sure that the piece of art is a good investment. It is an investment, but it’s first and foremost an investment in YOU – what feeds your soul, what makes you smile when you look at it, and what will inspire you to be a better person and live a life that is true to you. Surrounding yourself with art that speaks to your truth in my opinion is the first step in living an authentic happy life...so buy what you love. Buy what makes your soul sing.
If you love it, buy it.
If it’s out of your price range take a picture, print it out and put it on your wish list or vision board. Keep in touch with the artist or gallery. You may be able to afford a similar piece in a few years or maybe a piece in your price range will come on the market. But don't settle.
Getting your new Sculpture or Painting Home
If you don’t have a big car, don’t worry. Most galleries or artists are happy to deliver if you live in their area. Just ask.
If you live a little further out of the way, most galleries or artists will also happily ship your new art to you.
If you have a big car or are buying something small, galleries or artists will have plenty of packing material on-hand to make sure that your new piece is securely wrapped up for the journey home. Don't worry.
If you're interested in modern organic sculpture, visit my website and see if there's anything you like.
If you're buying art for someone else (for Christmas for example), please check out my blog post How to Buy Paintings or Sculptures as a Christmas Present.
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