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Some tips on buying art

Building your own art collection is exciting and creatively rewarding.

And as well as gaining ownership of works which you love, you immediately join the pantheon of great names throughout history whose patronage has made it possible for artists of all kinds to keep the wolf from the door while producing thought provoking and imaginative work.

Until you gain some experience, however, you might find buying art a little intimidating. These tips have been adapted by us from an excellent article on the website of the Scottish Arts Council.

Why buy art?

Owning contemporary and original works of art will enhance your life, as well as the home or workplace in which you display them, and it’s to help you achieve this that Artybiz is here.

The thrill and satisfaction of owning work from living artists is unique, and your knowledge and understanding of contemporary art will deepen the more you involve yourself in choosing and buying new pieces.

As well as providing an engaging and vital statement about any home or workplace in which it is displayed, original art makes an excellent gift for a wedding, birthday or retirement present.

Finally, the support you provide to artists by buying their work is what enables them to continue and further develop successful careers.

Contemporary Art. What is it?

The term ‘contemporary’ art generally refers to work by a living artist. It may be in any medium, including drawing, painting, sculpture, print, photography, an artist’s book, video, and CD-ROM.

What to buy: how to buy

The best reason for buying any piece of art is because you like it. Except in the most rarefied echelons of hugely expensive investment art, the golden rule is to ask yourself whether seeing the piece each day, as you go about your business, is going to give you pleasure.

As with buying anything else of quality, buy the best you can even if that means stretching your budget slightly, or paying in instalments.

  • Take your time. While you may occasionally want to buy a piece on the spur of the moment, part of the pleasure of buying art either online or by actually visiting galleries is in knowing that you have money in your pocket and will, shortly, make a purchase.
  • Visit as many sites and galleries as you can. Email them. Talk to their staff. They will be more than delighted to discuss their artists and work with you. Actual galleries usually have price-lists on display. If they don’t, ask to see one. Small red dots on the frame or wall adjacent to a work indicate that that work has already been sold. Half dots show that it is reserved, but you should always ask anyway if the piece interests you.
  • Visit the annual degree shows run by art colleges each year between May or June. Not only is it great fun to try and spot a star of tomorrow, but it is sometimes possible to buy genuinely exciting work from a young artist at a bargain price. This may often be the artist’s first ever sale, however, so try not to take unfair advantage of his or her inexperience.
  • Visit art fairs. These make a great day out and save you lots of travelling by bringing dozes of galleries together to show at one venue.
  • Keep an eye open for theatres, cinemas, cafes and libraries which display shows of art for sale. You can unearth surprisingly interesting work in these shows, often at very reasonable prices.
  • Look at art magazines for information about what is happening. Visit galleries and shows of contemporary art and get to know owners and artists.
  • Browse online. Whether you’re actually buying at that moment, or just passing half an hour, use Artybiz to help you surf around galleries offering interesting contemporary work. If you find pieces or artists which interest you, email the galleries and ask for more information.

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