14 Aug 2013

10 Tips for Buying Art

Very often people are hesitant about buying art for the fist time.  Not only is there a hesitancy in entering a gallery premises but there is an overall sense of awe and apprehension when considering the entire process of buying art.  Clients wonder if it is all right to purchase a single artwork, should they negotiate on the price or is it going to be embarrassing! Then there are questions about where should the buy from and would they be able to resell it when required.  Also, there are doubts regarding how to go about buying art for the sake of starting a collection, should they consider it as a financial investment or should they only consider enhancing aesthetics from an interior decor perspective.

image courtesy PhotoIndia

 Research on Art

  1. One of the first things to do before buying art is to empower yourself by reading up on art, visiting local art galleries, meeting artists and other people who are actively involved in this field.  Talk to artists, consultants and curators to get insights about the functioning of the art market and to also network with like-minded people. 
  2. Find out about current trends, read about exhibitions and reviews, and try to get a sense of the art market, prices and resale options. 
  3. Look at images and artworks to get an idea about the kind of art that you prefer.  Are you inclined towards traditional paintings, contemporary art or perhaps experimental art?  It helps to be clear about what you enjoy and what kind of art engages you.
  4. Next find out about reputed galleries and dealers.  Visit galleries to see how comfortable you feel while interacting with them.  If you are planning to buy art from an online source, find out about safe and credible sites who deliver authentic works. Check with galleries if there is a buy back clause or if they will help you in reselling at a future date.
  5. Get familiar with provenance and authenticity and all the necessary precautions that you must take to ensure you buy an original artwork which is authentic.

Why are you buying?

  1. I find that it is also important to establish your reasons for buying art – is it to cover up a vacant wall or floor space, is it a part of your investment portfolio or do you want to start building an art collection?  It helps in deciding the kind of art that you should buy and also in planning a budget for it.
  2. It is always a good idea to begin in a small way and put in only a small amount of money in the artwork initially.  You could then see how you feel about the entire process, how the artwork engages you and how confident you feel about investing larger sums in art.  


  1. Perhaps the most important criterion, allocate a budget for art and put in sufficient effort to stay within it.  It is often easy to get carried away and spend much more than you had initially intended.
  2. Decide if you are going to spend small sums over a period of time or whether it is going to be a one-time investment for you. 
  3. Do make sure that it is only a small percentage of your disposable income and not a portion of your primary investment portfolio.
 Photograph by Norm Clasen, image courtesy PhotoIndia

One of the major reasons why it is advised to buy art that you enjoy is that unlike any other asset class, art has a distinct advantage where it can engage you intellectually and emotionally.  It is not just another piece of paper in which you have invested but has the potential to enrich your life and affect the ambiance of your surroundings.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Art Collectors or first time buyers, who bought in mid - late 2000 have lost more than 60% of their investment. many serious collectors are finding difficult to liquidate their art.

Many galleries have shut their door, artists are struggling, many popular practicing artists have found a job in teaching.

Contemporary art is the last choice of investment