This past year, many of us spent countless hours at home. This time within our four walls has inspired some to undertake design projects, while others have turned their focus to collecting art.

Purchasing artwork for your home has a number of benefits. Aside from the obvious aesthetic advantages, collecting art that you love can have a positive impact on mental well-being. From stress reduction to serotonin increases, art can have tangible and meaningful positive effects.

But, purchasing art for the first time can be intimidating for some. Particularly in the world of e-commerce, how can you adequately assess an artistic work online before purchase?

These simple guidelines are the key to a pleasant and positive online art-buying experience.

Scope Out the Seller

The first step to making a smart purchase is ensuring that the seller is reputable. Do they have an established brand and reputation? If the seller is new to the world of e-commerce, that is not an automatic red flag. The realities of 2020 meant that many businesses, including independent artists and galleries, formerly reliant on in-person transactions created ways to connect and sell online.

However, if the seller you are considering does not have a lengthy history of online transactions, it is important to confirm they are in fact a trusted, established name in the art world. Researching the artist’s background or looking into the history of a show or gallery can ease concerns about doing business with an individual or organization that’s new to e-commerce.

Assess Your Favorite Pieces

Once you’ve identified a handful of pieces you enjoy, there are several steps to verifying the artwork’s value before you make your purchase.

This begins with vetting the artist. Check pieces by the same artist that are of comparable size, style, and medium to see if the pricing of your desired piece is in alignment with other works.

Next, see if this artist’s works are consistent with the pricing for other works on the e-commerce site at large.

Finally, if you are familiar with another artist on the site, you can also research how the pricing of their art online compares to the cost of their work elsewhere.

These strategies will provide a sense of how your chosen e-commerce art platform and the artist stack up in the wider art world.

Make Your Selection

Now that you’ve verified the basics about the creators of your favorite pieces, it is time to select and buy your artwork. While there are many factors to consider in your purchase, chief among them should be your love of the work. Only buy a piece that speaks to you and makes you feel great. Above all else, you want to buy art you will absolutely love.

Learning more about the artist behind the work can often deepen your love of a piece, too. You might investigate their story. Why and how they got into art. Why they’ve chosen to focus on a particular subject matter. How their creative process ties in with the way they see the world? Sometimes an artist’s statement of purpose or the story behind the particular piece will resonate with you and help you make the final decision.

Next, come the practical considerations. 

Will the piece fit in your space? The general rule of thumb is that artwork hung over furniture should be less than 75% of the width of the piece, for larger pieces. Alternatively, you may choose to purchase several pieces and create a salon-style gallery wall.

Is your piece already framed and ready to hang, or do you need to factor in a budget for framing? Custom framing is its own art form; taking your work to a reputable framer to consult on matting, frame color, and materials is a worthwhile investment when purchasing art.

What are the shipping costs, and how will it arrive? There are additional factors to consider when shipping art, and sometimes the delicate nature of a piece means increased transportation costs. Depending on your state tax laws, you may also be required to pay sales tax on your purchase.

While it may be tempting to scour the internet for the next Picasso or Modigliani, do not fixate on investment potential. However, it is worthwhile to purchase original art when you can. Even if that means selecting a smaller canvas, buying original art ensures you are getting a one-of-a-kind piece.

Additional Considerations

Once you have ensured that a piece of art checks all of the fundamental boxes, you can begin to think about other factors.

While you will want to consider how the piece will fit in with your home’s aesthetic and any other artwork you already have, remember, art does not need to match your couch. Couches will come and go, but you’re likely to have a piece of art forever. Also, an eclectic style creates a home that is uniquely yours, and variety adds interest to any art collection.

You might also consider looking for young and emerging artists you enjoy. Collecting pieces from creators who are not yet household names provides you with the satisfaction of knowing you are contributing to their career. Furthermore, it allows you to establish yourself as one of the early followers of an up-and-coming creative force.

Finally, trust your gut. Once you’ve educated yourself on the fundamentals, put aside the logical left side of the brain for a moment and ask yourself one question: Does this piece sing to me? If the answer is yes, then you know what you need to do.

Once your piece has arrived, be sure to keep records of your invoice and any information on the artist. Additionally, remember to factor your new pieces into your home insurance policy to protect the value of your investment from theft or damage.

Collecting art needn’t be an overwhelming process. Art is fun, and buying it should be as well. Armed with the guidelines above, you can move forward with confidence in purchasing a piece that you love –– whether that’s online or in person.

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