10 Tips for Buying Fine Art Online

It was an awkward moment. I’d purchased the painting with my best friend in mind. It was an oil painting of a golden vase of fresh daisies with a country scene as the background, and I thought it was beautiful when I’d seen it in the online gallery. I’d paid the enormous price with hardly a second thought–she was my best friend after all–and waited anxiously for the piece to be delivered to her home. Unfortunately for both of us, the dimensions listed on the site were wrong: rather than the delicate 6 x 4 inches that I’d expected, the piece was a colossal 6 x 4 FEET! Needless to say, my friend, whose tastes are for the small and intricate, was not pleased, and neither was I when I discovered that the site wouldn’t accept a return. To this day, that piece sits in my attic, unwanted, unloved, and almost forgotten. Today, I’d like to offer you my advice for shopping for fine art online. Keep these 10 tips in mine when buying fine art to ensure the most satisfactory experience. Learn where to buy fine art online, how to choose fine art, and the essentials that you need to know before you begin buying fine art on the Internet. And don’t make the mistake I did: always confirm the dimensions before you complete the purchase! Ten Tips for Buying Fine Art Online

1) Do your homework. A little research goes a long way when it comes to online shopping. If you have a favorite artist, research his or her trademarks so you know what to look for in authenticating work. If you want to buy art from a certain historical period, read an overview of the era in an art history book to know the most you can before you shop. A great resource is Alan Bamberger’s The Art of Buying Art.

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2) Buy from a reputable art dealer. You will receive the best service when you shop from a respected source. The end of this article includes a list of E-tailers that specialize in fine art purchases online. Buying from a specialized business ensures that you receive quality work backed by a solid company guarantee.

3) Along the same lines, shop directly from galleries online. When purchasing from a gallery versus an online e-tailer, you are more likely to be purchasing original art work versus prints. That being said, verify the quality of the gallery before you buy, or buy from galleries with whom you are already familiar. Also, the artist who created the work will be guaranteed of a commission from a gallery site. The end of this article includes a link for over 1440 art galleries throughout the United States.

4) Read the fine print. Make sure you know the details of the E-tailer’s return policy and any guarantees on the product. Don’t want to get ripped off? Look for at least a two-week return window. Sellers who offer free return shipping are also a great bet.

5) Look for a comments or testimonials section on the E-tailer’s site. Being able to read the opinions of people who have already purchased fine art from the E-tailer is great. Be aware, however, that just because an E-tailer has a page with quotes from satisfied customers, it doesn’t mean that the seller is truly great. It’s easy to fake these things, so read them, hope for the best, but take them with a grain of salt.

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6) Be sure you are on a secure site before entering any credit card info. When you leave a general page for a secure site, you will often have a pop-up on your browser announcing a security certificate. Make sure this information matches the website’s address.

7) Better yet, look for E-tailers who allow consumers to use a trusted payment site like Paypal. Paypal protects your information for you, and is trusted by millions.

8) Set a spending limit before you start to shop. It’s easy to get caught up in shopping and spend hundreds, maybe thousands, more than you intended. Choose an amount, based on your research, and stick to it.

9) Buy what you love. Don’t buy a piece of artwork just because you think it may appreciate in value over the years, especially if its something you aren’t completely in love with. Follow your instincts and always purchase the piece that you would love to wake up every morning to over the one that’s been done by the famous artist but you’d rather hide away.

10) Confirm your dimensions. Check them twice, and check a third time for good measure. Believe me, I won’t make the same mistake twice, and I hope you don’t either. Good luck!

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