Why you should buy from galleries instead of directly from an artist? How do you know the gallery you are dealing with is ethical? Why is some art priced so high and others of similar style and quality priced so low? How can you confirm the art you want to buy is an investment?
These are a few of the questions that will be answered in this section. If you are looking for an answer to a question that is not on this page please contact us and we will post your question and answer (your privacy will be honoured of course).
We look forward to serving you.
I always figured if I bought from artists that I would get a better deal? Is this true?
Not for the most part. Most reputable artists work under contract with galleries and dealers who work on a commission to promote them; commissions are obtained by galleries even when the artist sells from his/her studio because galleries actually absorb most of the artist's promotional costs (which can range up into thousands of dollars) even when they are not exhibiting at the gallery.
If you are looking for a "deal," a gallery has as much authority to offer one as the artist. Not to mention if you ever want to resell the art in the future it would be very important for you to know a lot about the work. Since it is standard business practise for galleries to keep this kind of resale information on file (buying and staying) with your favourite galleries is the way to go.
One more thing... if you buy from a gallery you have the opportunity to help many artists make a living, not just one. This is why many artists will bring studio clients to their respective galleries to meet the dealer. Then it becomes a collective effort for every artist to help each other make a living.
I don't know much about art but I want to start a collection. I've heard that some galleries will do anything to make a sale, and that some others sell junk for exorbitant amounts of money. How do I know the difference between a good and bad gallery?
That is a difficult question to answer concisely. Really, the only way to know for certain is to deal with the gallery in question. However, there are some precautions you can take to prevent yourself from falling victim to unscrupulous dealers:
Before purchasing anything - find out as much about the gallery as you can. Ask other local dealers (in a non-threatening way, it is a dog eat dog art world out there). Most dealers know who the bad apples are.
If you are looking to buy Investment Art - Art that consistently appreciates in value-usually the artist is deceased, ask about the provenance of the work, ask for certificates of authenticity and then check out the reputation of the appraisers. Really, your motto should be Research, Research, Research.
If you are looking to buy Contemporary Art-Ask to see the artist's resume so you can see what kind of reputation he/she might have built up, find out if the materials are of good quality (poor quality paint, paper, etc.. will fall apart relatively quickly), make sure that if it is framed that the frame (and possibly matting) is of good quality; but most importantly decide for yourself if the work is worth the asking price .
If you are looking to buy Inuit Art - make sure if you are buying a sculpture that it is accompanied by an Igloo tag with a certification number. (UNLESS IT IS AN OLDER PIECE FROM ESTATE, ETC.) Then VERIFY THE CERTIFICATION NUMBER. I cannot stress the number of seemingly reputable galleries who take advantage of Inuit (Eskimo) poverty and then sign the pieces (even in syllabics sometimes) and attach their own certification number for show. This goes back to rule #1, Research your potential dealer through other dealers.
Just remember, ultimately you have to like the art and feel it is worth the asking price to buy it. If you get a "bad feeling" about something simply don't buy it. That's all I can think of right now. I hope it helps.
I went to a gallery which had three or four paintings I liked. They were all done in the same style, but one piece was on sale for a really high price while the others were a lot more reasonable. Don't you think it was a little inconsistent to have such a dramatic price fluctuation?
I really need specifics to properly answer this question. There are actually many factors to properly pricing a piece of art. I will try to be as brief as possible:
Our opinion, based on the little information here, is that the gallery in question was trying to cater to two markets. The expensive piece was probably geared toward one market, while the less expensive pieces were geared for another. We hope we've shed some light on this issue.
Materials: Some sayings are true-you get what you pay for. Good materials cost a lot of money but also last a lot longer. For example, a good oil paint will keep its colour for hundreds of years. A poor oil paint will fade, or lose its colour after only a few years. This applies with most materials. If you have any questions about how to properly keep your work contact us and we will be happy to ease any concerns you may have. Another consideration is that oil paints cost more than acrylics; likewise acrylics cost more than watercolour (just because the artist usually uses less), and so forth.
- Reputation: Reputation is a very important factor for determining an artist's price. So you said you saw two styles that were similar. But, if one artist has been working for 25 years and the other for only two, then the first has built up enough of a clientele that he/she is required to increase his/her prices. Many collectors pay very close attention to the appreciation value of the work they buy (for insurance, resale, etc.) so after certain factors are worked in the artist may increase his/her prices. An artist will not begin his/her career selling at high prices. Just like everything else an artist has to work at developing his/her reputation. Therefore, if you look at the number of years the artist has been exhibiting, selling, and the geographical range the artist has been selling in, you can determine if the artist has the right to ask for a certain price.
Commissions: Since galleries absorb a large portion of the artist's promotional cost the artist must factor in the gallery commission. This can range from anywhere between 30%-70%. The average is usually about 40%-50%.
- Other Costs: The cost of framing (is it a hand made guilded frame or is it a simple steel frame?), the shipping required, etc., play an equally crucial role in pricing. The artist has to make sure that these are covered or else he/she can't make a living.
I found a print that was marked "Original Limited Edition Print" by a very well known artist (at auction). It was signed and numbered. With a decent frame I think I paid only about $75.00. About a year later I wanted to sell it through a gallery that carried the artist's work and they wouldn't sell it. When I asked them why they told me it was worthless. I saw other prints on the walls and I still can't figure it out.
I have a feeling I know the artist you are talking about. There is actually a BIG difference between a Limited Edition and a print. Rather than getting into a long lecture about the difference I'll put it clearly in point form.
We are sorry to be so scathing about the "Limited Edition" process. But the terminology has done enough to both confuse the public (and sometimes even artists) into thinking they are buying originals when they are not, and hurt the sales of legitimate artists who work very hard to produce, and provide, original prints at an affordable price. If you are interested in hearing more about how to buy prints that would perhaps be a better investment, please contact us . We would be pleased to help you out.
Limited Edition Prints-are created mechanically, they are the equivalent of a poster. They are usually printed in numbers ranging from 100-10,000. The artist has no control over the process, and in fact, rarely sees the finished product until he/she starts to sign them (they rarely even mark the number or the title on the piece). In terms of artistic merit, Limited Editions have none.
- Prints (i.e. Lithographs, Stone Cuts, Etchings, etc.)-are designed by hand, by the artist, and are put through manual processes by the artist. Everything from the paper, to the printing, to the signing, to the framing, is done and/or overseen by the artist. For more information on what is involved in different printmaking processes please contact us . These are usually created in "editions" of less than 100, and are often referred to as lithos, stone cuts, graphics (as in Cape Dorset's annual collection).
I saw some pieces in a gallery about 20 years ago. It was selling some fantastic artists (like Picasso etc.) for prices that seemed unreal. I was thinking about buying them and reselling them myself, but I got scared, and have thought about it ever since. It was just too good to be true. Should I be kicking myself for not?
We highly doubt it. We think you were absolutely right to have given up the "so called" opportunity. We fear you have met up with the lowest kind of low when it comes to unscrupulous galleries.
Again, all we can say is research the work you are interested in. Ask for the provenance of the work, the certificates of authenticity and then research the reputation of the firm that wrote up the certificate. You may also want to do research on the type of art you are looking for. For example, I once saw an "Inuit Inukshuk" sculpture advertised on the net. However, this Inukshuk was carved from glass. Since Inuits don't typically carve from glass it was probably an imitation piece. The same goes for forgeries. It may look like a Picasso, it may be signed "Picasso." But, if it is priced too low , or it was created with a material that Picasso could not have possibly used, it is probably not a Picasso. A good rule of thumb is that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
I saw a painting that I really love but it is so bright and colorful. My home is generally earth tones. I don't think it will work. Should I buy it or not?
Forget your decor for a second. You are looking at art.
Do you really love the piece that you have just seen? Do you feel that you could live with it forever? Does it bring you enjoyment? Are you thinking about it constantly? Could it become an extension of your own personality?
How often do you paint, or wallpaper, or decorate, your walls?
We really recommend buying art before you decorate, but think of it this way: collecting fine art is similar to collecting antiques, or Oriental carpets. With the right arrangement, antiques and Oriental carpets can fit into any decor, and so can good art.
My dealer just convinced me to buy a bronze sculpture of a reclined nude for $300.00. He said it would be a good investment and that in just a few years I could probably double my money. I've dealt with him for years, and he's never pushed me into anything before; but I just can't see him being right about this one. I mean, I like it, but I've never heard of art going up that much in such a short period of time. What do you think?
Even with "Investment Art" there is always a chance that you will never recover what you paid for your work. You sound like you have had a healthy, long lasting relationship with this dealer and that this is the first time you've questioned any of his advice. We cannot say that I blame you for questioning it either. Unless you've had the piece for years and years, the art work itself is highly collectible, and the work is still in good condition, it is difficult to sell at the price you pay for it. However, if you really do like the sculpture, the piece is relatively large, and he didn't "convince" you to buy it, we still think you got a good deal. Real bronze sculptures can end up being quite costly. So, in this respect he may be right about the piece increasing in value.
I bought a painting from a street vendor on holiday. When I brought it home to be framed it cost $250.00. I only paid maybe $50.00 for the painting! Why did it cost so much to frame it?
We won't lie to you, some framers do overcharge. But depending on how big your painting is, and the type of frame you bought, you may have actually gotten a good deal.
A good frame is very important for your art for several reasons: first, it keeps the piece from being damaged. If you purchased a watercolour your framer may have put U.V. (ultraviolet) glass on the art to protect the colours from fading. This kind of glass is specially treated, and is more expensive, but it will protect your watercolour for a lot longer.
You may have purchased a hand made guilded frame rather than a less expensive model. Hand made guilded frames increase the value of the work because it builds & enhances certain aspects of the work. Don't get us wrong though, art should be able to stand on its own merit.
You also have to take into account the manual labour, overhead expenses, etc., of the framers shop. Some framers have a lower overhead than others, and so will charge a smaller fee. We would suggest you do a little online research about the different kinds of frames out there, and then do a little calling around the next time you want to frame a piece of art.
To sum up, framing can be cheap, but they may not always do the job. Always make sure the frame you select protects the archival quality of the work. This means acid free matting, museum quality backing, and glass instead of plexiglass. Everything else is subjective, except that you make sure that the framer insulates the work in such a way that if the frame drops the glass will not break (assuming there is glass). If you have any more questions please contact us .
One last thing, never, never, pick up a painting by the wire. If you have glass in front of the art it could shatter from the pressure. Always carry a piece of art by the sides of the frame.
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