Having something bright and cheerful on my wall, that I appreciate every day, is one of life’s simple pleasures. Art brings a certain inspiration and creative energy into my home that other people notice and often comment on. Occasionally they ask me about how to choose the “right” piece of art. Therefore, I am going to share some trade secrets (which are actually not-so-secret) so that you can enjoy this exciting and immensely rewarding process.
Buying art is something anyone can do, and it’s really not as scary as some people seem to think. I, of all people, know that buying pieces of original artwork is largely an emotional decision and reflects our own personality. Rest assured there is no exact science or formula to choosing original art for your home or space that you are considering. However, there are practical elements that I find helpful to consider. So, for any of you out there who are feeling a little overwhelmed, here are some basics tips for buying that first piece of art for your home, with advice on how to balance the emotional side with the more practical elements.
What type of art appeals to you?
We all know that everyone is unique, and this principle applies to buying art as well. As obvious as it may seem, the first step is to figure out what type of art you like. This is an incredibly exciting process for first-time art buyers, who are in the midst of discovering more about their tastes, preferences and who they are. For example, I may love abstract oil paintings, while my neighbour is drawn to photography and my friend prefers realist sketches in graphite.
Research, research, research
If you ever wanted an excuse to visit galleries, art fairs, museums and exhibitions, choosing original art for your home is the perfect reason (not that any of us really need another excuse, but who’s counting?). You also get to spend your time guilt-free, reading art magazines, browsing through art blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, and receiving gallery newsletters in your inbox – a lovely change from work emails. Even if you do have a vague idea of what appeals to you, I find that it’s always stimulating to explore and discover different styles of art.
Research does not just apply to the art itself, but also to the artist. What is their story? Where does their inspiration come from? Knowing the story behind the art will help you form that meaningful, emotional connection to the work you are buying. This is incredibly important as you will be admiring it every day.
Consider the space you have to work with
This is where we start getting into those practical aspects I was talking about earlier. When buying pieces of original art, it is important to first consider just how much space you have on the wall. I always look around and think about how the lighting, colour scheme and overall style of the space would work with any new piece. With that said though, you might think to buy something that matches your sofa, but while your sofa may change, chances are, the art will remain, so choose something that gives you joy regardless of what else is in the space. At this time, it is also useful to consider how to protect your new acquisition, such as securing it to the wall and protecting it from damaging light and dust.
An alternative to buying from an artist’s inventory is commissioning art from the artist. If you like the artist’s style but have a specific colour palette in mind, some artists will work with the client to create a customized piece. It’s an open ended process, so you’ll need be somewhat open minded to the final product. Discuss directly with the prospective artist about their commissioning process as it can be individualistic.
Familiarise yourself with price ranges
As you continue your research, you will become aware that several key factors affect the value of an art work. It makes a difference if you are the first owner, its rarity (one-of-a-kind vs an edition), the medium (canvas vs paper), the seller (high-end galleries vs one just opened) and how popular the artist is. I particularly enjoy supporting local and emerging artists, and this also helps stay within a budget.
Set a budget
You don’t want to be thinking about how expensive that beautiful piece was every time you walk past. Although it may sound mundane, setting a budget is sensible, especially if you are buying at auction. You may wish to talk to an appraiser to ensure you are getting value for money or if you are purchasing for investment.
Speaking from experience, it is definitely worthwhile to allow for any additional expenses in your budget which are aptly called “hidden costs”. These can include the cost of shipping, framing and insurance.
Buying art online
Buying original art online allows you access to a wide range of artists and styles that you may not normally have, and it may even save you money. Nowadays, there are many online sources for original artwork. That said, it is always preferable to see the piece in person, as it may look very different depending on the textures and techniques used, the lighting scheme and quality of the online photograph.
Keep all of the documentation
I know that none of us need or want more paper cluttering up our lives. However, keeping all of those emails, invoices and receipts will ensure that there is a clear paper trail from the artist to you. They can be very useful later on, for insurance or valuation purposes or if you ever want to sell.
Buy something you love
My final piece of art buying advice is to simply choose something that you fall in love with. All the research in the world can’t beat that emotional intuition that you experience when you see a piece of art and feel inspired – there is nothing quite like it.