You are moving into a new apartment and may want a work of art to match your new space. You know the size and colours that will work for you and have an idea of the genre you are attracted to (modern, abstract, landscape, still life, expressionist, avant-garde). You also know how much you are prepared to spend. Art may be a luxury product but there are artworks to meet every budget. You probably intend to buy only one or two paintings, but if you are interested in art you could go on to buy a dozen over the next decade or two. You may be one of those rare individuals who are destined to become a serious ‘collector’ – only time will tell.
Perhaps you live in the countryside, outside of the city with its many commercial galleries. You may live in the city and be surrounded by them. It can be scary and intimidating, appearing to be ignorant, when seeking prices from staff who appear too busy to stop what they are doing. There are so many galleries and so many different types of art. It shouldn’t take forever to find a gallery, artist or artwork you like.
We are all comfortable buying clothes and books over the internet. Why not art?
In fact, online sales are the single most rapidly expanding sector of the fine art market. According to a survey in 2014, 71% of recipients had bought art online, sight unseen, and 89% of galleries regularly sell artworks to clients on the basis of a digital image only*. Since then, from 2015 to 2017, online art sales have grown at an average of 17% per year.
[The survey included 506 international art buyers (with young buyers comprising 42% of the overall sample), 130 established international art collectors, and 58 international art galleries].
While a majority of art buyers admit that they still preferred actually going to galleries, they said that the art world felt exclusive and inaccessible. As a result, more than a third of these same respondents believed that buying art online was less intimidating than buying from a physical gallery or auction house.
Of the online art buyers surveyed, 75% said that the main advantage of buying online was the fact that they could find the artwork they wanted so much more easily than through trawling galleries.
To begin a journey of online discovery and eventual purchase, you should find an online environment in which you can discover, browse, learn about and eventually buy art. You need an online gallery with an established reputation you can trust or, even better, an online platform that enables you to access the stockrooms of a range of established, reputable and trusted galleries. Galleries that will provide detailed information such as condition reports and certificates of authenticity to accompany your purchase. 89% of galleries in 2018 are using third party platforms on which they sell their art (this is up a whopping 30% from the previous year!) Aside from the major auction houses’ online platforms, some of the most popular websites have been Artsy (linking buyers with primary market galleries), Invaluable (an auction hosting and aggregating website) and Artnet.
Social media is another huge factor in discovering and following the progress of artists and galleries. In 2018, 79% of art buyers under the age of 35 said they use Instagram to discover new artists, while 82% use it to keep up-to-date with artists they are already familiar with.
The findings show that as many as 45% of repeat online buyers are willing to spend in the $10,000 and above category on fine art, compared to 19% of first-time buyers. This can only mean that the confidence to purchase higher price works is likely to increase and that the online market should grow rapidly in the coming years as technological and logistical barriers break down and buyers’ confidence in online purchasing increases. It is highly likely that a handful of online sales platforms will continue to assert themselves over others.
Most people would still prefer to view an artwork in the flesh before purchasing it. It is now easy to find galleries, artists and artworks online, so that once you have discovered one or two artworks that you like, you can walk into the galleries with greater knowledge and confidence.
The veil of exclusion over the art world is lifting. It’s never been easier to buy art.
*conducted by ArtTactic and Hiscox Insurance .
Click here to see the latest study.
Only buy paintings that you genuinely like and get pleasure from. While purchasing an artwork may be a financial decision, the work must impart a great deal of pleasure. It is likely that you may hold on to it for your lifetime and pass it on to your heirs. While it is also possible that you will decide to sell an artwork quickly to take advantage of a perceived opportunity, you will generally fail to reap any significant financial reward if you sell an artwork too quickly. You have to be prepared to hold on to your art for up to 10 years, so you must buy something that you will love. To some this may sound like a given, but it is truly the most important factor in deciding on an artwork.
You don’t need a lot of money- you just need to know what you like… I buy art because I love it.
Lisa Paulsen, The Sydney Morning Herald, Spectrum, March 2011
Stay tuned for Tip Number 2 in the next issue.