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5 Things a collector needs to known when buying art

My Grandma once advised me to ‘try before you buy!’ I thought it quite racy at the time as she was referring to having a few boyfriends before getting a husband! Quite the statement for a 90 year old! I’m not commenting on whether or not I took this advise in the way it was given, but it’s something I now remember fondly as an artist when a client is viewing an artwork.

Love it or leave it! That’s how I approach buying things for my home. Sometimes we may love an artwork, but there are 'worry' barriers to overcome. With a painting it’s difficult to picture it (see what I did there? 🤣) in our home. Will it fit in a certain spot? Will it go with everything else that fills our home? Will it look like the photo when I receive it? How does delivery work, if I can't collect? What if the painting is damaged when I receive it?

So there are a few things an artist can do to help a collector feel happy and less anxious about purchasing, what is after all a luxury purchase. I know personally I feel a lot easier when I have some or all of the following safety nets to my decision making when I buy a special piece.


Can I try before I buy?

When people visit my studio and admire a painting, it’s flattering of course but it has to be the right purchase for them, or we both lose out! As a buyer am I able to take this artwork home to see if it looks right for the spot I have in mind, before I commit? It doesn’t hurt to ask and certainly I have done this a number of times as a buyer and as an artist with potential collectors. Sometimes having a couple of pieces to choose from can help the decision making. With the right technology there are also some artists who offer a mock up of the painting in one of your rooms, so you get to see how it’s will fit in. I haven’t tried this yet but it's something I am looking to explore.




Both these paintings went to a home for the collector to try out before committing.

As a result I’m delighted she chose to buy both, and we had peace of mind they were right for her home.







What’s the returns policy?

If I live too far away and can’t try it at home first, can I return the painting if it doesn’t suit my home? It’s good to know what the return policy is. It gives peace of mind as a buyer and I have found most artists are very accommodating- we want our buyers to be happy with their painting and remember a happy buying experience.



Will the painting be like the photo?

What if I can only see the painting on line? Will it look the same in person? Maybe it’s a little risky? It is a risk but one I think can be minimised.

I believe the use of filters in photographs of artworks should only be used to increase accuracy, rather than enhancing an image. Most artists I know take great care to use photos that convey true colours and likenesses, however there can sometimes be a slight variation when viewed on different devices.

Sizing can also be an issue. I don’t know about you but I need a tape measure at hand to be absolutely clear about dimensions. It’s sometimes hard to tell the size of an item with out reference or context, which is why some photographs of art works are put in mock up scenes. However, I’ve noticed a number of ‘insitu’ images on social media where the proportions are quite misleading. Either that or those cactus plants and lamps are minuscule!

Recently if a client can’t view a painting in person I have offered a video call to view the art up close. Then I get to meet the client and they can ask any questions, see the colours, size and frame in daylight, up close and personal. This way both parties can be sure about their purchase.


I am careful with proportions when using insitu images to make sure an artwork is accurately represented.






What about the shipping?

There’s also the apprehension over shipping an artwork - for both parties if I’m honest. It’s nerve wracking sending a painting through the postal service or via a courier. Shipping costs go towards the secure packaging and safe delivery of a painting. In my experience artists undertake a lot of research to find a reliable and trustworthy shipping method and would rather pay more to ensure safe delivery than skimp and risk damage or loss of a piece of work they have invested hours, days and often weeks in.


Agreeing shipping costs between the artist and the collector is important. Especially now when the world is a little upside down, timescales may also be an issue if urgency is an issue. I know when I have to ship any painting of size I will get a quote before agreeing a final cost with the client. That said, shipping costs are often expensive and split between both parties to meet the clients half way. It’s considered to be worth the investment to ensure safe deliver.

Knowing what happens in the event of a mishap is also important to peace of mind. The selling artist should be able to tell us their practice, so we are comfortable throughout the process.

Where to find the answer to these questions?

Artists often have the answers to all these important questions on their websites. Mine can be found under FAQs on my header. But if you can’t find the info you need just ask the artist. We are always happy to answer queries and even more keen to talk about our art. So if you’re interested in the way an artist works just ask, and then try and stop them talking about it! You’ve been warned!


P.S. - Just to clarify, I'm not sure Grandma was really a racy kinda lady, but she did know a thing or two!



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