Do you wish you knew how to navigate your way into the art world?
There are plenty of articles, blogs and books for artists, on how to approach galleries to sell their work. There are almost as many books on how to sell without gallery representation.
But there doesn’t seem to be much advice for first time collectors to buy art!
So here are some ideas you might want to try.
Have a good look at your home. Where do you want to put your artwork? Have you got a minimum or maximum size? Have you got pallette in mind?
Have a look in your locality.
Go to a small gallery (often they are coffee shops too) and start working out what sort of things you like, and how much they cost. You don’t have to buy from the gallery then and there, you can browse.
Go to an art fair. Small or large you’ll find something that will at least help you hone your eye and make up your mind what you like.
Some art fairs are for galleries to show the work of artists they represent, others deal directly with the artist. Either way, its good to go and have a look. Collect plenty of flyers and cards so the you can look them up later.
Keep you eyes open in hospitals, hotels, restaurants - many artists are showcasing their work now in public places. They might not be for sale, but you’ll get a name to look up later.
Don’t be afraid of asking how much. Some galleries and some artists don’t put their prices on their work. I’m surprised by this, as it takes courage to ask. But have that courage. You don’t have to buy, just ask them. You don’t have to say anything after they’ve told you!
Have a look online - Artists and Illustrators, etsy, artists network, local arts groups (mine is Plain Arts Salisbury) - you’ll pick up lots of leads.
Most professional artists have their own websites, but you might not be able to find them based on a google search. Once you have a name go directly to the site.
Some artists have an online store, but many don’t; don’t be put off by this. You might be able to arrange a time to visit their studio.
If you make an appointment to see an artist in their studio, keep that appointment - they will have set aside time for you. Do not worry about buying straight away, Often artists anticipate visitors to their studio, might end up commissioning work rather than buying what’s already there. Often couples visit together, want to go away and think about it, then come back and buy.
If you have seen their website, or work elsewhere, and you like it; tell the artist you’d like to see something similar. If an artist is setting up for an exhibition, they may have far too much work to display in their studio, give them a chance to show you what you wanted to see.
If you feel unable to approach an artist to arrange your own appointment, then email them asking if they are doing any open studio events in the future. They’ll get back to you with date you can visit.
Try to have some alone time! I always try to leave any clients alone for a bit (I offer them a cup of tea and go off to make it) that way they can have a moment to get to grips with the work without pressure. Many artists do the same.
Ask them about their work.
Ask them about the medium they are working in.
Tell them where you’re thinking about putting the work - they might have a great idea for you. Discuss what you might want, even if you're still unsure. The artist will want to help you.
It’s probably not the best idea to be over critical to the artist, but you don’t need to give the false praise either. If you really don’t want to buy or commission anything, thank them for their time and leave politely.
If you want to buy; go for it! Artists who scrunch their noses up at smaller budgets are silly! Start with the work you like, if that’s too expensive ask if they have anything in your budget. Many savvy artists take the time to ensure they have a variety of works at different prices for this very reason.
You can ask the artist to buy on approval. Many artists will be willing to give you a refund if you don’t like the work, within a couple of weeks. You will of course have to return the work in pristine condition.
Some artists offer payment plans, but these tend to be for more expensive works.
If you commission a piece of work, artists tend to want a minimum of 20%-50% deposit and can ask for more. Make your mind up what you think is fair, and discuss this with the artist.
Some artists won’t be able to sell you work if their work is appearing at a gallery at that time. it depends on the contract they have with the gallery. Some artists don’t deal with galleries at all because of this restriction.
I’m not anti-gallery at all. I love them. Big ones, small ones, local ones, international ones. But there are times when artists get a raw deal in some galleries and it puts them off working with them. I love seeing galleries in every town and city and would honestly love to see more. But I need to explain to you what might be the circumstance for some artists in some galleries.
Galleries have huge overheads and often take 50% commission. If the gallery has big turnover they’ll have to add VAT as well taking their commission. (Some solo artists don’t have to charge VAT directly to the customer if their turnover is under £79,000). This means that for some artists, if a gallery sells their work for £400 the artist will only receive £120. When you consider the price of the raw materials and the hours it took to make the work, the artist might be paying themselves virtually nothing to produce the work!
So when you buy direct, artists are able to set their prices more realistically for you and for them.
It’s honestly a really lovely experience visiting an artists studio. I love welcoming people to mine and showing them my work and how I create it.
You’d be welcome...