The 4 biggest mistakes people make when buying art, according to experts

Affordable Art Fair‘Emerald Shoreline’ by Nina Brooke.

Buying art might sound like the reserve of the super-rich, but it can actually be more affordable than you might have thought.

The Affordable Art Fair in London, which runs from 18-21 October, presents thousands of original works every year, priced from just £100 ($US131) to a cap of £6,000 ($US7,889).

Business Insider spoke to Fair Director Lucinda Costello and Recent Graduates’ Exhibition Curator Cassie Beadle to find out the biggest mistakes people make when buying art.

Scroll down to see what advice they had to offer.

The artist doesn’t have much consistency

WAYHOME studio/Shutterstock

It’s incredibly important to do your homework, Costello says, when choosing the artist whose work you’re buying.

If you’re hoping to buy a piece of art as an investment, then it pays to research the artist’s portfolio beforehand.

If there’s a lack of consistency in their portfolio, it could denote a lack of maturity in their work.

It could be a red flag, “if you’re seeing things that look like they could have been created by different artists,” Costello says.

“If there isn’t much consistency across their portfolio then they may not have defined what they’re doing yet, which can mean they need more time to develop.”

“That’s not to say they won’t go on to become fabulous artists,” she adds, “but, if you’re playing it a bit safer then noticing colour palettes or a certain quality, just something about the overall feel of the work… [will make it] a bit more of a comfortable gamble.”

You don’t check where the artist studied

Unfortunately, not all art schools are born equal.

“Statistically some of the bigger institutions, like Central Saint Martins or the RCA, have produced more successful artists,” Costello says.

And, although she stipulates that “this should never be a bigger factor than the quality of their work,” it can sometimes be a safer investment to buy art produced by graduates of the more prestigious institutions.

“The tuition they will have had and the peers they will have been exposed to probably accelerate [the artist’s] maturity.”

You don’t buy from a gallery

Mary Turner/Getty Images

“Whilst buying from the artist direct can feel like you are ‘cutting out the middleman’ this can be problematic both for artist and collector later on,” Beadle says.

Buying from galleries guarantees the collector with essential credentials and documentation of their work, which is key if you want to sell the piece(s) on in future.

It also allows you to build a relationship with the gallerist, Beadle says, who can inform you of trends and developments in the art market, and offer you wider context on purchases.

“Gallerists are the professionals in selling art, knowing art, doing their homework and presenting it in a retail situation to a visitor and being able to have conversations about all of their artists,” Costello adds.

This has benefits for the artists too, she says, as they are then free to focus on their craft, rather than travelling the world’s art fairs and keeping their social media accounts going.

You don’t already have a space in mind for your art


Hopefully, if you’re in the market for some artwork, you’re planning on putting your purchases up on display, rather than hiding them away in storage somewhere to gather dust.

If so, it helps to have a place in mind before you buy.

“Consider the light, other decor in the room and whether or not there is access,” Costello says.

“The last thing you want is to fall in love with a piece and bring it home to realise you can’t get it through the door.”

If you want to be really organised, it’s prudent to have an idea of measurements before visiting a fair or gallery, Costello adds.

If your art doesn’t match your decor, it may be worth reconsidering the latter. While interior trends may come and go, good art will last forever, Costello says.

“… if you love it [the art] and if it doesn’t fit in with your Scandi or shabby chic set up, don’t feel like you have to turn it down. Maybe it’s time to redecorate!”

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