So, you’ve decided to buy some art. What are your options? Looking around on the High Street there are a few places that sell art. John Lewis, Habitat, Ikea, M&S all have print ranges that will enable you to get pictures on your walls. There are a few quirky prints available from the likes of Trouva and other gift shops.
Some of the public galleries and museums offer fabulous limited edition print ranges – again, these deserve an entire post which is here…
Looking online, a google search delivers Saatchi Art at number one (tagline: Be Original. Buy Original). This is a good start. Its an online gallery that connects artists selling work with buyers. There’s an online advisory service that takes you through a series of questions, all with visual prompts to decipher the type of thing you like (handy considering there are 88,000 items in the Painting category alone). But it’s quite hard to part with a few hundred, let alone thousand pounds for something you think you might like from an online image. I’m currently going through the advisory service and again, will put up a dedicated post with the outcome.
It’s important to connect emotionally with the art that you live with.
It’s important to connect emotionally with the art that you live with. You can’t always do that with a work you see online. Once you’ve bought a few pieces and are getting the hang of it, I think it works, but not for a first piece. So one of my top tips is to physically encounter art. Get an idea of the type of art you like (see previous post for help with this), think about the medium you’re after – photographs, canvases, framed print, object etc. Think about the size of work you’re after. And yes, consider your budget. This can be from a couple of hundred pounds upwards. You can pick up fabulous illustrations for under £100, but make sure you’ve got some budget to get them framed nicely (cheap frames make art look cheap, whereas a good frame can make it look fabulous – budget £200+ for framing).
Galleries are an obvious place to go if you’re interested in art, but there are hundreds in London (there are some brilliant galleries outside of London too, but if you want to get a really good selection of art, then you will need to go to London to access the broad range of galleries and museums selling work). Art Fairs are a good bet as you’ll find a number of galleries under one roof.
Luckily we have the London Art Fair every January in Islington. This is a really good place for a first time buyer. The 100+ exhibiting galleries are of a certain quality (they’ve been vetted by a panel to ensure they’re offering a good selection of work by credible artists), plus they have a brilliant range of talks, designed from the beginner to the established collector.
Add it to your diary now!
I like recommending the London Art Fair to new buyers as it has a good range of art at a range of prices. It’s easy to pick up a contemporary work on paper by an emerging artist for a few hundred pounds, or if you’re after a work by an established Modern artist (‘modern’ art is roughly 19th century – 1960s), you’ll find work from artists like David Hockney for £1000’s. There are other fairs in London, but this is the BEST one for a new collector. Frieze Art Fair in October is brilliant, but has a very high price point (average work £20k+) and other art fairs don’t always have such a range of decent quality art.
“London Art Fair caters for first time buyers as well as established collectors. We aim to create an accessible and enjoyable experience for all our visitors” Sarah Monk, Director of the London Art Fair
The fair always has a brilliant programme of Art Talks, which are a great way to develop your understanding and learn more about a specific area. London Art Fair announces its talks programmes in the next few weeks. Sign up here to receive their newsletter.
Precious Metal by Sara Pope, Jealous Gallery £250
Onwards and Upwards by Ray Richardson, Advanced Graphics £950 +VAT
Art Fairs can be extremely busy with so much going on, it’s easy to miss out on things. So plan ahead, take some time to read their website, work out what’s going on and make sure you book in for talks and tours where relevant. Of course you could just rock up on the day and have a walk around to see what you like, but you might miss out on some interesting things! Read my advice on preparing to visit an art fair here.
Leila Jeffreys, Purdy Hicks Gallery, POA
Art Fairs are exhausting – often physically as well as mentally – you’re on your feet for quite a few hours and (hopefully) engaging your brain. Make sure you give yourself the whole day, with time to fuel up on coffee and lunch.
Kyung Hwa Shon, Chiara Williams, POA
Natasha Kissell, Bearspace Gallery, POA
If it’s the first time you’ve visited an art fair and spoken to a gallery, my advice is to stay open minded about the art. You might find yourself drawn to images you like aesthetically, but don’t rule out other works – when you find out more about them from speaking to the gallery, you might find yourself drawn in to the idea behind the work and what the artist has set out to achieve in the work.
Depending on how seriously you want to take this whole art buying business, you might want to have a scroll through the list of exhibiting galleries before arriving at the fair, so you can get an idea of which ones have art that appeals to you. It’s nice to just wander around but there’s a lot to see and the time really does fly, so the more prepared you are, the more you’ll get out of it. For the truly serious, there are guided tours and art advisory services.
If you need additional advice, get in touch as I can tailor make visits to galleries, fairs and artist studios depending on your brief.
Next blog post: Buying Limited Edition prints, an affordable way to buy art.
I am really enjoying these guides and I would love to join you in January. I have never been to an art fair before and I would really like to see what it’s like. I was interested to read your point about framing as I am guilty of buying prints and sticking them in IKEA frames!! 🙈
Couldn’t agree with you more that actually seeing a painting/picture is a much better way of choosing a piece to buy. Art should inspire an emotion and you can’t know that through a screen!