Buying art can be fun, but very intimidating; especially if it is the first piece you have purchased and you don’t know what questions to ask. To help, I spoke to a director of a local gallery to see what 5 questions every first time art buyer should ask before making that big purchase and they are below.
What questions do you ask when speaking with an artist or gallerist?
- Who is the artist? Ask where the artist studied, their age, if they are living, if they have any important awards or are published, etc. This helps you figure out where the artist is in their career and where they are headed. If you are purchasing art in a gallery the gallerist should be happy to tell you all of the important information and give you a bio about the artist. If you get to meet the artist ask what the inspiration is behind the piece and any other questions that are meaningful to you. You don’t always get to meet the artist and can really add to the experience, so if you get a chance make sure to take it.
- What is the medium? Knowing the medium will help you determine its value. There are so many different mediums out there, so make sure to do a little research and get to know the type of art you are interested in purchasing. If you are looking for originals ask if the artist does giclees or prints so you don’t see your piece hanging somewhere else.
- Ask yourself if is true love or infatuation? Most likely you are purchasing art to have for a long time, so you want to make sure you love it. Does it speak to you and do you connect to it emotionally? Most galleries will allow you to take art work home on a trial basis to make sure it works in your space before purchasing it. If you aren’t local ask what the return policy is. Maybe you can ship it on approval. After all, art looks different in your home than it does in the gallery.
- Is the price right for you? There is nothing worse than buyers remorse especially if you are unable to return it. The price of art work varies greatly. It can depend on how reputable the artist is, where they are at in their career, the medium used, the size, etc. Many artists price by square inch, so the larger the piece the more expensive it is. At times an artist will determine the price by how much time it took them to paint it or the materials used. Ask the gallerist or artist if the price is negotiable. Rarely are the prices set in stone, so you can usually get a better deal than the price originally offered.
- Is it a quality piece? Look at the materials used and see if it is well finished. Does it have a varnish or a type of glaze to help protect the piece? Also look at the shape it is in. Damage can reduce the value to the piece and the overall cost. Check for any scratches or tears before purchasing. If there is any damage and you love the piece ask the seller to restore it for you an no extra cost. If it is a reputable gallery they should have no problem making the painting perfect for you.