Thanks to the magical world of online shopping, we can now buy most anything our heart desires. The contemporary art world has not been immune to this trend. Young homebuyers enthusiastically lookup for statement pieces for their living rooms; teenagers seek out artistic posters or graphic prints of their favourite Marvel or DC characters; and serious art buyers and investors forage the virtual world hoping to discover physical art works that may have the potential to strike gold in the future.
But is there a method to this madness? We say there is. With our tips, you will be able to acquire a keen curatorial sense in no time. Whether you are a first-time buyer or collecting art as an investment, we got you covered. Here are our tips on how to start buying art.
Find your purpose: First things first. Are you a home buyer looking for decorative artworks to match your curtains or a serious buyer looking to find a piece that would fetch you a high resale price?
If you are a casual buyer, all you need to do is to figure out what you like. We suggest doing rounds of galleries and museums to get an idea of the works that are making a buzz in the art world. The virtual world is a great way to look for what you like. Many online outlets offer serigraphs (or silkscreen prints of original works) along with limited edition prints. For first time buyers, serigraphs and prints offer more affordable alternatives to original artworks that are beyond the means of most of us.
On the other hand, if you are collecting art as an investment, you might want to talk to art curators and other collectors regarding new and upcoming artists. Platforms like Terrain.art offer free online resources where you can learn about India’s historical and contemporary artists, and get in touch directly with a community of artists, photographers, galleries, art framers, and art conservators.
Determine the correct price: Art is expensive. Some artists may undertake just a few projects in a year. A painting may take weeks if not months to complete. These factors, along with the stature of the concerned artist, typically drive up the prices of artworks. If you are wondering how to start buying art, there are a couple of things you bear in mind. Works on canvas are normally more expensive than works on paper by the same artist. Similarly, a one-of-a-kind piece or a commissioned piece would cost you more than works in an edition or series. Setting up a budget would help you to stay on track and not go overboard.
Buying art from auction houses: Buying art from auction houses is quite a different deal than buying art online.
Here are a few tips for buying from auction houses:
- Most of the artworks up for sale would be consigned by their present owner. This could drive up the price, especially if the work belongs to a prestigious collector.
- For historical works, it is important that you know that the art is authenticated and has come through proper channels.
- When participating in auctions online, it is important to follow auction etiquette regarding bidding increments and cutting bids.
- Many auction houses hold out-of-season shows and preview shows for some artwork. Keep a tab on all the happenings by signing up for newsletters and social media. Finally, know what you are buying.
- Top auction houses offer online and offline resources on artworks on sale. Also, do not be afraid to ask questions and clear your doubts.
Buying art for home: An artwork reflects the personality of the owner and can define the space he or she lives in.
Here are some pro tips for buying art online for home:
- Your kitchen is the most neglected corner of your home. The space across countertops may be perfect for showcasing your art. So is the bathroom. A funny quote or a graphic print is just what you need to get you started in the morning.
- For bedrooms, we suggest going for warm, relaxing tones. Large-scale pieces should be hung at eye level. If you are interested in photography, then opt for desaturated colours for effect. For office spaces, contemporary abstract is the way to go.
- If you’re buying for an office, a rotating gallery will also keep your clients hooked. Start by installing a long ledge on the top of the sitting area. Put standard-sized photographs and artworks – an assortment that you keep on changing according to your mood or the seasons.
After you buy: Once you buy, make sure that you track your purchase. There should be a clear traceable path between the seller and the owner. For preowned art works, always ask for a provenance record. All the records pertaining to an original artwork should be properly documented, including invoices, emails, authenticity records, etc. If you eventually want to value or sell the artwork, these records will come in handy.