Buying art online? A few simple tips from the experts will make it a fun, inspiring, and virtually risk-free experience.
Its 2017 and buying fashion, music, food, wine, furniture, holidays, and even oddities like live ladybugs and zombie survival kits online has become the norm and now it’s art’s turn.
With over 90% of art collectors* buying artwork from onscreen images sight-unseen, and over 40%* claiming to often, or very often search for #artistsname on Instagram before purchasing artwork, it’s obvious that we should be taking their lead with confidence.
Aside from being the norm for art experts to buy original art online, it’s also a fun and inspiring experience and is virtually risk free if you understand these few basic tips:
Tip #1: Follow your heart and trust yourself.
There are two approaches to shopping for original art online:
The first is to find a piece you love and buy it purely because you love it. This is the easiest and most honest way, because we all want to fall in love, right? And as my very romantic great grandmother used to say, “True love is forever.”
The second is to find a piece that you think you love but are secretly hoping will be a great investment. This is trickier, requires a lot more research, education and understanding and is never guaranteed.
Tip #2: Ask for a 'Guarantee of Authenticity'
Make sure you know whether what you are buying is an original, a limited edition, or a reproduction. Online sellers of original artwork, like traditional art galleries, should guarantee the authenticity of the art it sells. Beware of reproduction prints on canvas that have been enhanced by the application of textured paint strokes, or assembly-line artwork from places like Thailand, China, and Indonesia which may be good copies but are most often unauthorized.
Tip #3: Get to know the artist
Find out more about the artist. Mainly because its fun to ‘know’ the person behind the art, their motivations, and inspirations. The same can be said for the artwork.
Normally online you will find the artists bio and a statement about each available work. It’s also easy to find information on artists by Googling, or to connect with them and learn more about their processes and practices on their Facebook, Tumbler, and Instagram pages.
Tip #4: Be a little flexible with your budget
Know your budget but be willing to extend it a little. The regret of missing out on something you loved because you wouldn’t spend the extra few dollars can be hard to live with.
Online purchases also come with shipping and insurance costs which will be added to the price of the artwork but these should be transparent on the seller’s website.
Tip #5: Size matters!
Even if you’re in love with a particular piece it’s going to look ridiculous if it’s too big or too small for the space you have. Use an app or look for a gallery site that will show you how the artwork will look in your space before you buy. A good gallery store that really cares about you will offer this as a free service.
Tip #6: Look beyond colour for a 100% money back guarantee
It’s important to understand that each monitor or computer screen will have different colour values.
While gallery stores will do their best to display a true representation of the art, it has no control over your screen settings. This is just an unfortunately side effect of buying anything online, however a reputable art seller will offer a money back guarantee and may even pay for part of the shipping cost to return the art making buying original art online virtually risk free.
Tip #7: Reach out to the person or people behind the gallery store
Behind a reputable online store or art gallery there will be a person or team of people who are knowledgeable and passionate about the art they sell. Reach out to them and discuss your purchase and ask any questions about the art, artist, any guarantees, processes, shipping, insurances etc.
The more you know the more comfortable you’ll be with making a significant purchase online. If you love the work of an artist of a particular genre but none of the art on the site is quite right, you can also request to be kept up to date with latest works.
If you do not receive personalized service or attention, go elsewhere.
Tip #8: Accept that price is a fair price
Online you’ll find some really wellpriced artwork and lots of emerging and unrepresented artists. You’ll have heard the term “Oh, he’s just a ‘starving artist’”.
Art, particularly that of emerging artists is often priced little over the material used for its production in an attempt for the artist to get their work out into the marketplace and to free up studio space to create more work. Typically this is a very fair price to pay for quality art.
Beware of websites that offer discounts storewide or on individual artworks – this tactic may be eating into the artists’ earnings and making it difficult for them to keep working.
Remember too that original art is just that - each piece is one-of-a-kind, created by hand and may be backed by years invested in learning, practice, and skill development.
Got a question about buying art online? Ask The Art Hunter!
*Research by Artsy showed that over 40% of collectors often #artists name before purchasing and only 6% never did meaning 94% have searched #hashtags at some time and that 90% of art bought by of art collectors is purchased sight unseen.