Selecting a work of art is a pleasurable, enjoyable experience. Before you begin the process you need to establish some parameters:
- Why are you looking to buy? Is it for your home? Is it a gift?
- Do you have any specific requirements? Think about dimensions of the work, the space/function of the work, materials to be used etc
- Do you have any particular styles, colours, materials in mind?
When deciding to buy a work of art, consider:
- Does it make you feel good?
- Is it aesthetically pleasing?
- Is it a piece of work you just can't imagine walking away without?
Remember your gut reaction is frequently the best way to choose work.
Tusheeta David Beneath the Surface 4, 2008
Anna Wray Birmingham, 2009
Where to start?
By searching and browsing the Axis site you can start to establish what kind of work you like.
- You can save the artists that interest you in your favourites.
- If you already have some specific criteria in mind, use our search.
- If you need help with your search, email us at email@example.com
Make contact with some artists
Axis can help you contact the artists you are interested in through our web mail facility. You can contact the artist to arrange to meet and view work at their studio or gallery. Discuss with the artist what you like about their work, if the artwork you originally found is not available to buy, the artist may have similar works that may interest you.
The best reason to buy art is because you love it. It is always an advantage to view the work in advance of purchase as it may appear different from an image presented online.
Once you have decided what you want to buy, you should also consider the following:
- Installation - does it have any special requirements?
- Delivery - is there an extra charge for this? Who will arrange delivery?
- Size - will it fit the space in my home or office?
- What's included in the price? Does this include framing etc?
Buying a limited edition or a multiple is a good way to start your collection, as prices are usually less than an original work of art and the size smaller and more likely to fit into domestic settings.
Should I buy an original work or a limited edition?
Some artists only make one off unique pieces of art. However many types of work are produced in editions. Each work in this case is usually numbered and signed by the artist. The edition size will depend on the type of work.
Some examples of limited editions are:
- Prints these are also called artists or original prints to distinguish them from mechanical reproductions this includes etchings, lithographs, screen prints and engravings
- Artists multiples these can be various objects, often 3D and on a small scale
- Artists books
- Videos, DVDs and CD Roms (the artist will retain the master and produce a limited number of copies)
Sarah Harvey Treading Carefully, 2006
You should always check whether a piece of art is signed and dated. This is often the case with painting and prints.
Original prints are usually signed with the edition number on the front. Some people believe that the lower the number of an edition, the greater the value, but this is not the case. If the edition is marked AP, this means it is one of a number of proofs the artist takes to decide the final format (AP stands for artists proof). Paintings may also be signed on the reverse and ceramics and glass are often marked with the makers signature or mark on the underside. Sometimes a piece of work will come with a certificate of authenticity as in the case of sculpture, videos and multiples. In all cases it is worth while keeping the receipt, together with the artists CV and even a photograph of the work for insurance purposes.
Arts Council England and the Scottish Arts Council's Own Art scheme is designed to make it easy and affordable for everyone to buy contemporary works of art and craft including paintings, photography, sculpture, glassware and furniture. You can borrow up to 2,000, or as little as 100 and pay back the loan in 10 monthly instalments - interest free, subject to status. The scheme is available through a network of over 250 participating venues across the country.
For further details visit artscouncil.org.uk/ownart
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The Arts Council of Wales has a similar scheme for building up small private collections called Collectorplan. Visit collectorplan.org.uk for further details.
When buying a work of art you are still covered by the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (amended by the Sale & Supply of Goods Act 1994 and the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002). The law provides certain implied or automatic statutory rights under this contract. The Sale of Goods Act 1979 states that goods should be:
- Of a satisfactory quality: i.e. of a standard that a reasonable person would consider to be satisfactory; generally free from fault or defect, as well as being fit for their usual purpose, of a reasonable appearance and finish, safe and durable.
- Fit for the purpose: i.e. goods should be fit for any specific or particular purpose made known at the time of the agreement.
- As described: i.e. goods should correspond with any description applied to them. This could be verbally, words or pictures on a sign, packaging or an advert.
Office of Trading Standards, 2005 Buying goods Your Rights
For further information on consumer rights visit tradingstandards.gov.uk
Barry Cawston Solar Panels Barcelona, 2007
Claire Palastanga Curl, 2009
Developing a collection
You may find you are interested in a particular artist, decide you would like to develop a collection of their unique work. Or, you might want to broaden your collection perhaps around a theme, choosing sculptural works, photography or textile pieces.
Developing a dialogue with artists, galleries and arts organisations can prove interesting and vital in gaining a further insight into the visual arts. By doing so, you will develop your knowledge and inform your future artwork selection. Artists and gallery owners are keen to share their knowledge, so do ask for advice and further information.
Search our Directory of artists
How to commission art