How to buy original and affordable art online

How to buy original and affordable art online

Buying art online might seem as easy as ordering a T-shirt, but even if you are a pro online shopper, choosing original and affordable artwork for your home might not be that simple for two reasons: first of all, there are so many artworks to choose from in the virtual world that you may become trapped in constant hesitations, and the second reason — you need to make be sure that you will get what you are paying for — the original painting or sculpture.

Things become more simple if you stick with a few rules, but before I dive into deeper into the subject, let me explain briefly where and how you can purchase art online.

You can purchase art online, just as in the real world:

  1. directly from the artist;
  2. through an art gallery.

But there is also a hybrid No. 3 — an online platform, where artists and/or galleries sell art, in other words, it is the medium between the seller and the buyer. I have covered this topic in my earlier blog post and you are welcome to read it if you want to learn more about online art platforms.

Defining your needs and budget

Before you start looking for an artwork that would suit your taste and budget best, you need to define what is it you are really looking for.

When you walk into a physical gallery, you will see an exhibition of 10-20 artworks, so it is quite easy to decide quickly what is it you like, but when you start browsing online — you will see tens and sometimes hundreds of thousand options. So my recommendation is to define the following:

  1. Your goal of acquiring art. Are you buying it to decorate your home, would like to start a collection or, possibly, find a unique gift for an art loving friend?
  2. What kind of artwork you are you looking for? Painting, sculpture, digital?
  3. Style and subject (Abstract or realistic? Impressionist landscape or surreal portrait?)
  4. Size - at least approximate dimensions, depending on the space you have. My advice is: the bigger is always better!
  5. Budget is important, so think about the amount you are ready to spend.

    Answering these questions will make browsing easier and will help to spot your ideal artwork faster browsing and using filters on online art platforms.

    Small abstract painting on paper

    Small abstraction on paper by Gina Vor.

    I understand that sometimes we simply do not know what we want and what we are looking for, believe me, it is quite normal! If you are one of those people, you might find another blog post useful, where I give some tips on finding the artwork that you will love forever.

    Should you buy from artist or a gallery?

    There is no short and straight answer to this question, so I would say — it depends. If you would like to have direct contact with an artists, get to know him/her and learn about their inspiration and artistic ideas — do contact them directly, however, you must be sure that the person at the other side of the screen is the one he/she is saying he/she is and that this creator will fulfil promises and obligations.

    Buying from galleries saves time on research, usually they offer artworks created by professional emerging and/or established artists, experienced gallerists have already chosen best of their works, they know how to organise secure transactions, packaging and shipping and are aware of the artworks provenance. So if you want to save time and get things organised quickly — approach the gallery.

    Textured painting by Pius Sieber

    Bianco Grat 2 - large textured landscape by Pius Sieber.

    Some people might think that buying from artist directly will allow to acquire art for less. It might be the case as you are negotiating directly with the creator, but not all the time, as artists often have obligations for galleries they work with.

    You might, however, consider both options. After all, the goal is to find the artwork that is right for you, but before you go on and explore the online art world, there are few more things to consider.

    Buying art online from artists

    How do you find the right artist online? I will dare to say that probably almost all contemporary artists have a website and use social media actively (especially Instagram).

    So use the search and filter results by location to find the ones near you — it will make communication and delivery process easier. But don’t limit yourself and explore the international waters bravely as well!

    Once you found the artist and are sure you love his/her work, there are few things you need to consider:

    1. Artist’s identity. Make sure you are approaching a person who is a real artist offering unique artworks by following him/her on social media for a while, googling the name for articles, reviews and any other information.
    2. If you are not sure about the quality of the artwork, colours, or detail — request more photos.
    3. Secure payment — use services like PayPal to make sure that you do not lose the money if the artwork does not arrive.
    4. Ask if you can buy the artwork via E-Commerce or art sales platform. Most artists have seller accounts on popular trading websites like Etsy, Ebay, sell on, or other online places. In that case you will be assured that your purchase is safe.
    5. To make sure you are buying a unique artwork, make sure you saw a photo of a signature on it and that it will be accompanied by Certificate of Authenticity, issued and signed by the artist or gallery.
    6. Prior to paying — agree when and how will the artwork be delivered and who is responsible if it arrives damaged or does not arrive at all (if you are buying through art sales platforms, this question is outlined in their Terms of Service).

    Thinker - minimalist bronze sculpture by Aloyzas Smilingis-Elis

    Buying art online from galleries

    Similar rules apply buying from galleries. Usually galleries have sufficient amount of good quality photos of the artworks they are offering and can provide you with detailed information about the artwork you are interested in. Not so many of them have E-Commerce solutions implemented on their websites and are used to receive e-mail enquiries.

    If you spot an artwork sold by a gallery that interests you, be sure that:

    1. Your payment is secure (use PayPal or other trusted service), if that is not possible -
    2. Ask the gallery if you can acquire the artwork via art sales platform (galleries use platforms, or
    3. You have requested information about authenticity.
    4. Delivery time and conditions are clear.

    If you have doubts about the safety of buying art online, you might what to check one more blog post of mine where I am discussing this subject in more detail.

    Looking for an affordable and original artwork? Visit my online gallery and take a look at curated selection of affordable abstract paintings, contemporary sculptures and limited edition prints.

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