4 Things To Consider Before You Buy A Piece Of art

4 Things To Consider Before You Buy A Piece Of art

In an effort to personalize our living space, most of us will purchase some form of art during our lifetime. The art world can be a confusing place, making it difficult to decide what to buy and how much to spend. Here is my every man’s guide to buying art.

1) Investment or Décor?

Decide on what is motivating you to buy. Are you trying to become a collector? Are you purchasing as an investment?  If so, you will want to research some different artists. Find out whose work is in demand and commanding a consistently increasing price range. You may need to spend more to buy the work of an artist whose work is selling well internationally. The work of a local or up-and-coming artist is usually less expensive and can be a good investment. Consider consulting a reputable gallery or local art consultant, especially if you are hoping for a return on your investment in the future.
Or are you decorating your space? You may find a piece you love, are just drawn to and want to have around for years to come. A high quality print is a great, affordable option. If you are you looking for a piece that matches or accents your current décor you may want to spend less and change out your art later. A print or poster is then a good choice.
Even if you just want something to match your couch, you want to hang something that really speaks to you. I don’t recommend letting an art consultant or decorator make the decision for you unless it is strictly a monetary investment for you.
2) Print or Original?

Prints will almost always be your most affordable option and are now available on a variety of substrates giving the buyer lots of options. Originals are great when you want to start or grow a collection and form a connection to the artists. When you purchase an original you can usually speak with the artist in person or through email or phone. It is a personal choice, depending on both your budget and motivation.

3) Price

How much should you expect to spend? This depends on the artists ability and /or reputation, what you are buying and where you are buying. Original art can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands. Commissioned/custom works tends to cost a bit more. Small quality prints can start as low as $20. Expect to pay $200-$800 fo
r a large scale quality print. Prints that are hand signed by the artist will run more. Framed art will raise the price $100 and up. Posters can look nice framed and can start under $20.

4) Where Are You Making Your Purchase?

Can I negotiate a better price? Sometimes, but an artist willing to take less is rarely a good sign for you as a buyer. Retail stores and respectable galleries have fixed prices and negotiations are not part of the process. Artists work is priced by reputation, the size of the work and materials/production costs. Often an artist will command a certain price per square inch. Keep in mind that today’s galleries generally keep 60% of the purchase price and the artists usually cover materials, and framing.  The price haggling that has become popular when dealing directly with artists at art fairs, events and studio tours is uncomfortable, and often insulting to artists. Buyers are often unaware that it is considered grossly unethical to undercut their galleries, with some artists being contractually obligated to maintain a certain price point. When an artist who undersells their work is devaluing pieces that previously sold for a much higher price.

No matter what you decide to buy, art is subjective, it should be something you really love and want to see every day.


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