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How to Buy Art with Confidence and Have Fun With the Process

I was talking with a guy who says he knows nothing about art. He has a new house with empty walls and he wants to liven it up. This guy is pretty wealthy so he is getting advice of what artists to buy as an investment, and what gallery or dealer he should work with. He knows that I am an artist and wanted my opinion.

If you are wanting to have art as an investment you should work with a dealer or reputable gallery -- this may be the hardest part! You need to get informed about the art world and artists. I just read the book, "The Intrepid Art Collector: The Beginner's Guide to Finding, Buying, and Appreciating Art on a Budget", and it is a good start for someone wanting to invest in art. It is a big financial and time commitment. I am not the person to help with investment art. I would love to have an original Picasso, or Lange (below photo. Dang, she is awesome!), but it's not in my price range.

This potential art buyer, like most people, was not wanting to get that deep into art investing. He wanted to spruce up his home with art that he likes. That's all.

The vast majority of people are just looking to have a great piece of art in their home and not to invest in art. These art buyers are like me. I want a work that means something to me, that brings back memories, that I have a connection to. I buy art even though my house is full of art that I make. I buy something that I love. Not for resale value.

Here is my best way to buy art as an art lover and not an investor:

  1. Know what art that you love. Look online at art, go to museums and galleries, get familiar with what is out there and what you like and do not care for.

  2. Go to Open Studio events in your city and meet some artists that you like. These types of events happen semi regularly and are pretty fun. Talk to the artists. I recently visited about 15 artist studios in Tacoma a few weeks back. I bought one work and met several artists that I now follow online and mailing list.

  3. Go to art walks or local art fairs. The fairs are usually in the summer and you will find a lot of great art and emerging artists. Art walks in Seattle are throughout the year and some are good and some are awkward. Going into a restaurant to look at art, and not to eat, is just a bit weird, "Excuse me sir can you scoot your chair in so I can see the painting hanging behind you. Sorry about that spilled wine." Some art walks really are good but you have to go to find out.

  4. If you like an artist, get on their mailing list. This is a great way to keep informed on shows and specials. Artists rarely spam.

  5. Ask artists what local artists they like. You will find some great artists this way.

  6. Visit an artist's studio on your own - not during an open studio event. Studio visits are a thing. If you get to know an artist make an appointment for a visit. You may feel obligated to buy, so be ready, but don't buy if you are not ready or it is too expensive for you. It's OK to visit without buying. You will feel weird if you do not buy but the artist will not. It can be a like seeing someone's baby and not complementing how precious they are.

  7. When you see something you like, and it will fit great in your house, buy it. If it is too expensive, tell the artist that it's over your budget and ask if they have something less expensive. Sometimes they will drop on the price, and often they will have smaller works that you like. Asking for a lower price directly from the artist is a very difficult subject. In general, pay what they are asking.

  8. Take the newly purchased work home and hang it. Enjoy it! You now own an original artwork made by hand. Nobody in the world has this art work but you. I have works that we bought years ago and I still love seeing them. My life is richer for having something original and beautiful in my home.

Have fun. Art is a pleasure not a chore.

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