Tuesday Tips: Buying Art
I have a long set of 14 stairs in my house that would be so much more exciting if there was something interesting to look at as I make my way from bedrooms down to living and dining rooms. A little artwork would do the trick. But what a pinch to the pocketbook! So I asked some local galleries, "How do you buy art?" I even got them to offer some advice for those of us on a budget. Here are their tips:
Tip #1: Look for something you love rather than just something to decorate your home or office. Once you've fallen in love, then you can think about how it will fit in your home -- wall space, furniture, decor. Think about if it's going in a high-traffic area with lots of sunlight. If so, get it framed with glass that has a UV coating.
Tip #2: Consider starting a collection of a certain type of art such as landscapes or animal scenes. Pick a room in your home to showcase the collection, much like a museum exhibit. "Sometimes people collect in a thematic way," says Kathleen Ewing, owner of Kathleen Ewing Gallery, a Washington gallery that specializes in photography. "It really has to do with where your passion takes you."
Tip #3: Learn about art, local artists and your personal taste for art by visiting galleries and local museums in the Washington area. You can also explore the Internet for what galleries have around the world. Artnet and Artline are sites that let you see galleries' inventories. Once you figure out what you want, some local galleries will help you track down a specific type of art if they don't have it.
Tip #4: If you're on a budget (and who isn't these days), consider going for prints. They can be a significant reduction in price from the original and they look nearly as good. Photographs are also more economical than paintings and other types of art. "We have photos here by well-established artists but they keep their prices down because they like to get their work out there," Ewing says. "Things start at $500 to $600, which is still affordable for the young buyer." And consider going to some of the local art schools at the end of the school year. They often have exhibits of their students' artwork and the students are anxious to sell it for cheap.
Tip #5: Make sure you really love what you're buying. Most galleries don't have established return policies but they'll work with you if it's truly something you can't live with. You may end up having to exchange it rather than getting a refund.
Tip #6: Don't buy art as an investment. The art world is too unpredictable and certain art doesn't necessarily guarantee a return later down the road if you try to re-sell it. "What's trendy and hot now could be dead five years from now," Ewing says.
Tip #7: Always ask a gallery if they have anything else to sell aside from what they have exhibited. Many will have additional pieces tucked away that don't fit with what's on display. "We always have things in our inventory that aren't related to what's in the exhibit," says Jessica Naresh, director of visual communications at Hemphill, a Washington gallery.
Tip #8: When buying a photograph or a print, ask what number it is in the edition. It'll be an important fact if you ever want to re-sell the art, Naresh adds. Plus it's kinda cool to know if you have the first or last one in the edition.
What have you learned from buying art? Where are the best places to buy art? Post a comment below.
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