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Buy art online: where & how - the ultimate guide

Buy art online: where & how - the ultimate guide

The past year has been challenging both for art galleries and art buyers. Lots of venues are being closed due to Covid 19, galleries are in lock down, but our love for art is not in quarantine.

The need for aesthetic pleasure and decorating homes, where we spent much more time now, has directed art lovers online.

In comparison with other industries, art sellers, be it artists or galleries, are just jumping on to the e-commerce train, so no wonder, when someone decides to buy art online, things may seem complicated.

On one hand, the choice is enormous, but on the other — it might seem impossible to choose a painting or sculpture from tens of thousands artworks available online.

That is why I compiled all my knowledge and experience into this guide that will help you to buy art online, avoid misunderstandings and be happy with your acquisition.

Where to buy art online

It is possible to acquire an artwork online both direct from the artist or through the third party - a gallery or an auction house. You can buy art online at:

  1. local art galleries;
  2. online art galleries and platforms;
  3. direct from artists;
  4. e-commerce platforms;
  5. online art auctions.

If you are looking for affordable works of art, I would recommend to contact artists directly or browse online art platforms.

It is also worth taking a look at e-commerce giants like E-bay and Amazon.

However, those who are looking for artworks that would be more than just a decoration, but also a good investment, I would recommend galleries (that are also selling through certain platforms) and art auction.

But now let’s discuss each option in more detail.

art gallery

1. Local art galleries

You can buy art from your local art gallery even if they don’t have a website where you can browse artworks and add them to the cart.

All you have to do is google the galleries in your city and drop them an e-mail!

Let them know what are you looking for and the gallerist will come up with a proposal. 

You will receive a reply with photos of the artworks and will agree upon the payment and delivery terms. 

This might be not the most advanced way to buy art online, but definitely, quite an easy one, because you can communicate with the gallerists in your native language and will save on the delivery costs.

2. Online art platforms

The variety of online art galleries is huge. There are art boutiques, art platforms where artists sell their art directly to collectors and online platforms dedicated to galleries only.

Watch this video to get a better understanding on how they all work, what are the differences and which online art buying channel is best for you.

To save your time googling, I have also prepared a list that you might find useful:

44 places where you can buy art online

3. Direct from the artist

Buying art direct from the artist has never been easier, well, in cases when artists have user friendly websites, are active on social media and are easy to contact.

Don’t be shy to drop a direct message to a creator on Instagram or via Facebook messenger, tell them what are you interested in and ask for prices.

As there is not third party between you and the artist, there might be some risks involved, related to secure payment, smooth shipping and returns.

So please make sure you read my tips at the end of this blog post.

4. E-commerce platforms

E-commerce giants do sell a lot of art and are a perfect place to shop if you are looking for affordable piece.

Check Amazon, Etsy and E-bay and you will find thousands of originals and prints to style your walls on the budget.

5. Online art auctions

Auctions are definitely for those who are not worried about the price but a rather hunting something rear and valuable. 

Besides the two famous Christies’s and Sotheby’s, you might want to take a peek at Catawiki and Invaluable.

How to choose art online

The process of buying art online is similar to buying art offline in a way that you have to:

  1. know what you want;
  2. set the budget;
  3. look at variety of artworks;
  4. choose an artwork and pay for it;
  5. wait for the artwork to be delivered.

However, you don’t get to see the artwork before it arrives to your home and you don’t get to chat to the artist or gallerists face to face. 

Also, you are able to see thousands of artworks at once instead of looking at 20-30 paintings hanging on the walls.

So buying art online has a lot of advantages, but challenges also come together. 

Here is my earlier blog post that will guide you in choosing the artwork that is right for you:

How to buy art that you will love forever

Buying art online

How to buy art online

When you have chosen the artwork you want to own, there are few crucial things to consider when buying art online:

  1. authenticity;
  2. secure payment;
  3. delivery costs and insurance;
  4. returns.

1. Know what you are buying - is it unique, one of the kind artwork or an edition. If it is a print or a sculpture with multiple editions, what number of copies is available on the market? Or is it an open edition - not limited to the copies that can be made over time?

2. Make sure your payment is secure by using payment provider that can be trusted. Avoid cash transfers, use services like PayPal or at least a credit card, so you can claim your payment back if problems arise.

3. Clarify who covers the shipping costs and insurance. In some cases it is the seller, but it may the buyer might have to pay too.

4. Check if the buyer accepts returns — read the terms of service. You might want to sign a contract if you are buying from an artist directly. 

SUMMARY

There are a lot of ways and places to buy art online, but the most important thing is to know what you are looking for and be sure that you are making a safe purchase.

Buying directly from artists might be cheaper but risky, especially if they don’t have their own e-shop and are selling via messages. 

Acquiring art through platforms and online galleries provides more confidence, as these sellers are responsible for payments, shipping and overall customer satisfaction, however, they take a middle man’s fee for it, and that is why artworks sold there are more expensive.

The cheapest artworks are offered by print on demand service providers and E-commerce giants, but don’t expect to find a quality original there.

If you would like to invest in a high quality art - choose auctions and visit my boutique online art gallery ArtGoda.com!

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