1. Research. The first thing to do is some research on the internet to gain an idea of what kind of style of art you like. This is easy to do and free! Sign up to newsletters with online art galleries, you will then receive the latest art news and new releases in the art world. To get you started have a look at these useful websites:
unionart.co.uk – This is a great website to have a look through as it sells all mediums of artwork with a range of styles and prices to suit any budget.
fineart.co.uk – This is the website for The Fine Art Trade Guild. Here you will be able to find lots of useful information about art and framing.
2. Medium. You will need to think about the medium of the artwork: Open Edition Print, Limited Edition Print or Original.
Here are the terms explained:
Limited Edition Prints are extremely high quality, archival grade, prints. Nearly all Limited Edition Prints will be signed by the artist in pencil underneath the picture. The signature authenticates and guarantees each piece. The artist will only sign the print when they are completely satisfied that it is a true and accurate representation of the original. Signed Limited Edition Prints will often attract higher prices than unsigned work. Limited Edition Prints will be numbered. The handwritten number is vital as it guarantees not only the issue number of the limited number available, but also the authenticity of the edition.
Open Edition Prints are high quality, archival grade, prints but unlike Limited Edition Prints they are not normally signed by the artist or limited in the number of prints produced. Purchasing an Open Edition Print is a great affordable introduction into buying art.
Originals can vary in medium but some of the more popular mediums are oil, watercolour and acrylic. These will be more expensive than open or limited edition prints but you are buying a one off created by the artists very own hand. If you are looking for an investment an original would be the better way to go.
3. Budget. Look at your finances and make a decision on how much the budget for the new piece of artwork will be. You don’t need a large budget to start an art collection. You may not have the budget to buy an original at the moment but there are other ways to build your collection. Think about why you are buying the artwork: is it to decorate a room, for investment, to be admired by those around you or because you want to start collecting art. This will help you decide on your budget.
4. View. Prepare a list of galleries in your local area that supply the style of artwork you like. Also have a look to see if there are any art fairs on, it may be worth travelling further afield, as they can be an excellent way to get involved in the art scene. The Affordable Art Fair, on twice a year in Bristol and London, is a great one to visit.
5. Discuss. While in the art galleries and/or art fairs don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask as many as you can. Artists will be delighted in your interest and gallery staff and owners will be happy to share their knowledge and experience especially if they think it may result in a sale!
6. Framing. Will the artwork need framing? The answer is more than likely going to be yes unless you wish to buy a box canvas although even then adding a frame can really complete the piece. Framing is not cheap but can have a big impact on the finished article. Choose a frame that complements the style, era, price and colours of the artwork. Let a reputable framers help guide you through this process; with years of experience they will normally be right. The gallery or artist can also give you their opinion of how they would frame the piece. You might want to go with the artists recommended frame as after all the original vision of producing the art came from them!
7. Love. The most important thing of all is that you have to love it! Buying art can and should be an emotional decision. Only buy it if you LOVE it! Have a think about it, when you walk away do you find the artwork keeps returning to your thoughts? Will you regret not buying it? Ask yourself these questions and the decision should be clear. Don’t leave it too long before you make this decision or you could find someone else has come along and snapped it up before you!
8. Research, again. Now you have decided on the style, artist and piece depending on whether it’s a print or original have a look online. Online art galleries will nearly always be cheaper than physical galleries. Online galleries do not have the overheads of a bricks and mortar art gallery so they can generally pass those savings on to the consumer.
9. Details. Before you buy that piece of artwork you absolutely love ask the gallery or artist some questions, for example: If you are buying a Limited Edition Print is the piece signed and numbered by the artist? Does the print come with a Certificate of Authenticity (COA)? The answer to both of these questions should be ‘yes’. If you are buying an Original is the piece signed by the artist? The answer to this again should be ‘yes’. Any artwork you buy should also include a receipt with your name and address, the artist name, artwork title and price. Keep hold of your receipt as not only can this be used for insurance valuations it will also provide provenance should you decide to sell it in the future.
10. Buy. Buy that piece of artwork! Once you have got your treasured piece of artwork home make sure it’s protected from any potential damage. Ideally don’t hang the piece in direct sunlight as this will result in the colours fading. Varying temperatures could also have an effect on the artwork, along with humid conditions like bathrooms and kitchens. Hang the artwork so that the centre is eye level.