I am an impulsive art buyer and not a collector. I buy what I like, and most of it was a result of a personal choice. I have grown up with pictures and artists coming into my space, as my father is an architect, worked a lot with painters. I took this tradition on, and overall I have spent more money on artwork than on shoes. Though being very rational and an economist in this matter,  I never considered, if it was a good investment or just a pure act of pleasure.

So here are the top tips from experts, if you want to be more rational than I have ever been.

1. Understand, why are you buying?

Do you want to decorate your home?  And an IKEA poster seems not to fit your home’s design level.

Or maybe you want to start collecting art, as you like pictures like me? Whenever I go to an artist’s studio or a gallery and I feel like in a fashion shop, where I can buy a new dress, even if I do not need it. But a picture is shall be a bigger decision.

Or maybe you feel sorry for an artist friend and want to help?

If you are a collector, you sure know the rules, so maybe this article is not for you. Still worth running through the titles 😊 or comments so that others can learn. Some experts suggest that art collecting is not the same as randomly picking up artworks, because there is no other purpose behind it than the pure esthetic value. But if you are a collector you started for sure for the same reason, as someone, who is not. I hardly can imagine that collectors can buy without the basic instincts of non-collectors and without looking at the esthetic value of an art piece.

The tips we share are valid for both collectors and for simple art buyers who still want to make a future proof choice especially in the vast offer of the online art sales platforms

2. Buy only if you love the masterpiece

Like in other investments, it’s difficult to know whether the artwork will increase in value over time. So you better like what you see. A picture has to offer you pleasure and enjoyment in the first place. Know your preferences. Trust your instincts and experience. Online platforms offer a great solution for you to browse and discover what you like.

3. Space and size matter – consider it

Unless you are a collector and have storage and space, you want to display the artwork on a wall in your home. Keep in mind the style of your home and the wall space. One of the biggest challenges of buying art online is visualizing the size of the artwork, despite reading the dimensions. Try to imagine, or check the special photo showing the creation of the artwork towards the furniture. I often bought pictures, disregarding this fact and some are still not on an ideal spot, which limits the impact.

4. Set a budget

Due to the online platforms, buying art means choosing from endless possibilities. Online you have a bigger choice than at any physical gallery. Choice 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. But is key also if you buy from an artist, where prices are not on the pictures. It makes sense to manage expectations.  If you start showing interest in a picture and you hear a bigger number than expected, you can hardly explain, why you are not buying unless you are honest. Maybe buying in rates can be an option. Setting your budget especially on auctions is key. One may lose the rationality moment and can pay more than the real value of a picture.

5.  Decide what type of art you want to buy and potentially collect

You are not obliged to fix yourself on one style. Still, it helps especially if you want to spend time in research or you want to become a better expert. It makes sense to fix the area of interest. In this way, you can better evaluate the value of a picture

6. Lookout for inspiration to understand your preferences

Visit online sales platforms often, get newsletters. Online is good, but real offline shows, galleries, and museums will help you feel your taste profile. Visit artists’ studios, if you can. I like this a lot, as I may like an artist, but not a particular piece of him, so having a chance to look at plenty of artworks helps me personally.

7. Connect with the artist you are potentially buying from

Knowing the person, the character, the story behind, is a valuable insight for both hobby buyers, but especially for collectors. I only bought once in my life a picture, from an author I did not know personally. Nowadays, it is easy to connect with the artist via their online presence, or through gallery representations over their artist profiles/interviews. Online galleries share the stories behind, as they know it sells.

8. Understand the Artist

A good work of art tells a story. It transfers feelings from deep inside. 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. knowing this information also can give you a feel about the potential of the artist to grow. This is important when you buy from an emerging artist.

9. Research your options

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.

At HINSA. we create for example limited editions of products based on real artworks. We take pictures meant to be on the wall and make them part of your everyday life. Selling those we support our artists and create funds for new projects.

10. Verify the gallery’s legitimacy

Trusting or buying from a gallery that you’ve never visited can be a risk – unless super famous, check them out. The website of the gallery, the payment methods should give you a sense of its legitimacy. Ensure that you receive an invoice for your purchase. Check the gallery’s social media presence, as they can be indicators of quality

11. Verify the artwork’s legitimacy and the state it is in

Check that the artwork is accompanied by a signed 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. Ask about information and evidence on provenance, including any exhibition history, and any publications in which the work is listed, pictured, or mentioned.

If you buy a limited edition print, check how many prints are there and how are they marked. NFT is so popular, as it is a new solution to manage authenticity using new technology.

If you are buying an old picture check the condition it is in – as Restauration is costly. 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.

12. Ask Questions

Buying artwork is as important as buying an electronic gadget or a new home. It is a one-of-a-kind creation. Hence, you should feel completely comfortable asking the online gallery as well for information. A credible online art gallery will have a Customer Care team, willing to advise you.

Though not all artists will become world-famous, you still may like them a lot. Nevertheless, it is worth knowing whether the artist holds promise, especially in mass online galleries. They 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. At HINSA we work only with artists, who have professional education and have had several exhibitions already. Check our artist for more info.

13. Last but not least – Insure your artwork

Protect the investment by documenting and insuring it.