9 Useful Tips on How to Buy Art Online

Art Wise

Over the past decade, shopping has truly gone digital. From flight tickets to electronics, groceries, furniture and jewellery, we now buy everything online. But when it comes to purchasing high value art, some of us are not quite as comfortable with online shopping. Despite the obvious benefits to buying art online, such as access to a large collection and no geographical constraints, many hesitate to make a purchase without any physical interaction with the seller, or feel unsure about the authenticity of the artwork.

Here are nine useful tips from Artisera that can help you enjoy your online art buying experience with confidence. 

1. Clarify Your Intent

Typically, while buying art, you’re either looking to adorn your home, or considering it as an investment. It’s important to be clear about what is driving your purchase because it could significantly impact decisions regarding your budget, size and theme of the painting, reputation of the artist, and the online gallery you make your purchase from. 

2. Know Your Space

Unless you are a collector who has more art than space to store it, chances are you want to display the artwork on a wall in your home. One of the biggest challenges of buying art online is visualizing the size of the artwork, despite reading the dimensions. If you have a space in mind where you want to display an artwork, use a measuring tape to see how big the area really is, how much breathing space you need on all sides, and how many inches will be taken up by the frame. You can use cardboard cut-outs or newspapers to cover the area and see how much space the piece would take. Working backwards in this manner will help determine any size limitations you may have to consider, so you don’t end up surprised or dismayed when the painting finally arrives!

Another factor to keep in mind is the aesthetic of your home. While traditional art can blend well into a contemporary home, look out for glaring clashes between the artwork you’re considering and the colour palette, mood, or aesthetic of the room you plan to display the piece in.

(Image source: thespaces.com)

3. Set a Budget

The boon and the bane of buying art online is having to choose from endless possibilities, much more than you would have at any physical gallery. And while being spoilt for choice is great, it can also be overwhelming. Having a budget in mind helps narrow down your options and saves you from falling in love with an artwork you cannot afford! If you’re a new art buyer, it is advisable not to overstretch your budget as you may regret it later.

4. Research the Universe

When one thinks of buying art, it is often only paintings. However, there are many options out there, such as prints, photography, installations, and various traditional art forms. Keep an open mind and understand different forms of art. For instance, if you have a budget constraint, but really love the work of a highly acclaimed artist (such as M.F. Husain or S.H. Raza), investing in a signed, limited edition print by the master artist is a great idea as the artwork is not only a masterpiece, but also an investment.

Similarly, a monotone wall with a collage of artworks or a black and white photography grid, could be an interesting option. It’s important to read and do some research to see which forms of wall art you are open to buying as it can help you navigate the choices available more easily.

(Image source: Pexels)

5. Verify the Gallery’s Legitimacy

Trusting someone you’ve never met, or buying from a gallery that you’ve never visited can be daunting. But there are various ways in which you can build trust in the online world. Learn about the founders or promoters of the gallery, check their educational or professional backgrounds, and if they have expertise in the field.

The website of the gallery, along with its design and information, should give you a sense of its legitimacy. Make sure the site has a secure web presence by checking for the ‘lock’ sign next to the URL in your browser. Understand the payment options and check whether the gallery is using a reputed payment gateway. If they insist on ‘cash only transactions’, you may have a cause for concern. Ensure that you receive a proper invoice for your purchase. Check the gallery’s social media presence on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube, as they can be indicators of quality.

6. Ask Questions

Buying an artwork is not like buying a mass manufactured electronic gadget. It is a one-of-a kind creation, and hence, you should feel completely comfortable asking the online gallery for information. A credible online art gallery will have a Customer Care team that is easily accessible and happy to advice you, either via phone or email.

Ensure that the pictures you see on their website match up to the actual artwork. You can ask the gallery to share videos, close-up shots, or ask them to render the artwork in an image of the actual space in your home, so that you can visualize how it will look in your space. Also check on the measures taken to ship the artwork with utmost care, so that it is not damaged in transit. 

7. Understand the Artist

A good work of art tells a story. It’s important to understand the artist’s journey – their background, inspirations, trajectory – before buying his/her work. Learning about the artist helps you form a deeper connection with the artwork. A work of art is something that will stay with you, and hence, it is important to buy the right piece.

Though not all artists will become Picasso or Husain, it is worth knowing whether the artist holds promise. A good online gallery will have information about their artists available on the website, and answer questions you might have. One way of determining if an artist is a professional artist or a ‘Sunday painter’ (i.e. taken up art as a hobby), is to ask if they have participated in any group or solo shows or art camps, and where. A solo show requires serious commitment from an artist and builds credibility. If an artist’s work is part of a museum collection, or important private or corporate collections, it indicates that the artist holds promise.

8. Verify the Artwork’s Legitimacy

Check that the artwork is accompanied by a provenance or authenticity certificate. Certificates of Authenticity usually have the artist’s signature, along with an authenticity declaration from the gallery. If you’re buying the work of an artist who is no longer alive, or is an acclaimed/expensive artist, it is important to check the source (or provenance), since the gallery may not be able to provide an authenticity certificate with the artist’s signature, especially if the work is from the secondary market.

9. Love What You’re Buying

Art appreciation is extremely personal and a widely admired piece may not speak to you. It is important that you truly love the artwork you are buying. Don’t feel pressurized to buy a big name; you will have to see the artwork in your home every day, and if you don’t like it, you’ll regret your purchase soon. Art need not always be intellectual or deep – if you love an artwork simply for its visual appeal, that’s completely fine! 

(Image source: Pexels)

With this guide, we hope you feel confident about buying art online. Please reach out to us for our free art advisory service on +91 7899882277 or concierge@artisera.com, and browse a curated Fine Art collection on Artisera.

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