So you’re at that stage in life where you want to start getting “real” art for your walls, instead of the Monet poster you got when you were in college. Or you’ve found an artist you LOVE and you really, really want to have a piece of theirs. Whatever the reason, you are interested in buying art–but you worry that you don’t have the funds to make it happen.
Well, after 11 years with my artist husband, I’ve found that there are sometimes ways around the money issue involved with buying art. And I thought I’d share some of those with you today. Let me put the caveat that not all of these work with all artists or galleries–you really have to do your homework and figure out how each individual artist or gallery operates, but these are some of the ways that we’ve begun to fill our art collection.
- Buy direct from the artist.You see an artist you love at a local gallery. It’s WONDERFUL if you can buy from the gallery–this helps the artist further their career by helping the gallery see them as a profitable part of their business, and helps a local gallery stay in business. But sometimes, I know, gallery prices are out of a budget. So if you like an artist’s overall STYLE and not a specific piece, you can sometimes go direct to them and see if they have any other pieces that aren’t being shown at any galleries that are for sale. Those pieces can occasionally be at a slightly lower price point because gallery commissions aren’t being included. Additionally, many artists have their own online or Etsy stores where you can buy directly. You might find an artist that does sales, or special offers if you buy direct. It’s worth checking!
- Haggle with the gallery. A little known fact–some galleries will work with a buyer a little on the price. ESPECIALLY if you’re looking at buying more than one piece or if you’re a regular buyer. Now, we’re not talking massive discounts, but you might see a 5%-10% reduction. This is probably less true of very very high end galleries, but it’s something that is worth asking if you’re serious about buying.
- Buy prints. Many artists these days are doing prints, either through a gallery or on their own. Prints are a wonderful way to get your foot in the door of collecting art! They will likely be signed and numbered by the artist (if they’re fine art prints), at a significantly reduced price from the original. For example, my husband just did prints of a piece where the original is priced at $750…and the prints are priced at $50. You still get the beauty of the work, in a different format, at a lower price. Good prints will be on high quality paper, and printed with professional level printing. If you find an artist you like, look on their website or their store site (if they have one) to see if prints are available. If you can’t find any listed, it never hurts to contact the artist to see if they have any prints available.
- Start small. I know. You want a big piece to take up ALL that white space on your wall. But, like most things, bigger pieces of art tend to cost more. Smaller pieces can be the perfect way to start a collection without spending crazy amounts of money. The additional bonus of buying smaller works? You can buy more of various artists to see what really works in your home and with your personality!
- Trade with other buyers. Maybe you have a piece or a print that you don’t want anymore, or you want another artist instead. There are buyers out there that will do trades. There are even forums and websites devoted to doing art trades. This can be a way to keep your art collection up to date with your current tastes even if you don’t have the cash to buy all new. (As with all things, please do your due diligence here. Don’t trade if you think something is off about the other party, or if you have any doubts about the validity of what they’re trading, etc.).
- Barter with the artist. This is truly going to be a case by case by case basis. BUT. There are artists that will barter work for services or goods, especially if it’s things that might not be an artist’s strong suit. Say, for example, you’re a tax professional. Maybe you’d be willing to do an artist’s taxes in exchange for a piece. Or you’re a web developer and you’d be willing to do an artist’s website for a piece. Those types of barters CAN be successful. Now, my caveat here is: only offer what you’re willing to part with, and understand that an artist is going to do the same. You don’t want to come out of the deal feeling like either of you lost.
Creating an art collection is a fun way to express your personal style (no more mass market posters!), support the arts and help small businesses. It can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to break the bank!