Beady Eye Art, Top tips on buying original art


It’s pretty intimidating buying your first piece of original artwork. You know you need to move on from the mass produced prints you bought when you were a student but you’re not sure where to start?

We’ve pooled together a few of our top tips on ‘how to buy art’ gleaned from our 25 years experience of buying, selling and investing in art. But remember , there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong‘ pieces of artwork, it’s what you like that counts.

1. First, decide what you like

That might sound obvious but visit public and private art galleries and get an idea as to what engages you. How do different pieces of art make you feel? What art style and medium do you like and are attracted to? Abstract, realism,   impressionist, pop art, cartoons and of course what subject matter appeals. Do your research and it will set you in good stead.

2. Set your budget

Know what you can afford to spend and stick to it. If it’s your first foray into buying art, start with a smaller less expensive purchase and build your confidence before making a big splurge and avoid making an expensive mistake. Returning art if you don’t like it isn’t the same as taking pair of shoes back to a high street shop. Do check out an art gallery’s returns and exchanges policy  before you part with your money.

3. Do you want a print, a painting or a photo?

This will largely be determined by your budget. Original prints can start from as low as £40 from reputable online art gallery. An original print will be part of a series of numbered images of the same image, produced using a wide variety of printing methods. As the artist can produce more than one of the same image, the price is usually much lower than a painting. But beware, know the difference between a giclee print (a ‘posh’ photocopy of the original image) and an original print where the artist’s fair hand has been involved.

A painting will be more expensive as this is a one off piece. Prices from an emerging artist can start from as low as £150 for small pieces and then the sky is the limit.

4. Buying to invest?

Don’t! Not a great move if you are new to buying art. Start small, build your knowledge and confidence and then start thinking of buying to invest but it’s not for everyone. Buy it because you love it.

Selling art on as you would expect involves transaction costs and you don’t always cover your initial outlay unless the artwork has considerably increased in price.

5. Know where are you planning to hang your artwork?

Do you have a specific space or room in mind? If so, don’t forget to check the dimensions and have a tape measure handy. Online art galleries, art galleries and of course the artists themselves will always be happy to provide you with dimensions.

Check the light: remember if the artwork that you are buying has glass on it, the light will be reflected and might obscure the image. If it is a print ensure that it isn’t being hung on a south facing wall, as constant exposure to strong light might cause the image to fade over time.

The best artwork for kitchens and bathrooms are framed with glass to protect the work; also easier to clean. And don’t forget smoke from a fireplace can also damage work over time.

6. Framed or unframed.

If you’re buying an original canvas online, check to see whether it is framed or not. Many artists these days that paint on canvas don’t frame their work. It’s personal preference. Remember that changing a frame can completely transform an artwork.

7. Try before you buy.

Many gallery owners, online and bricks and mortar art galleries will allow you to take home a small selection of art work art work to hang them in situ before you purchase. Some galleries will also bring a collection of artwork to your house for larger items it allow you to see the works in situ.

8. If you love it, buy it.

Most art collectors have learnt the hard way. It’s not often that you find a piece that you really love. If you can stretch your budget buy it when you see it. The chances are that if it was love at first site you’ll love it in years to come. The best advice we can give is go with your gut reaction to the artwork. If you ponder for too long then it’s not the piece for you.

9. Where to buy art? 

There are a wide number of art fairs, commercial art galleries and a growing number of online art galleries. Buying art online is of course a completely different experience to buying art face to face. We would suggest that you buy face to face  until you are confident as to your taste and then move into buying art online.

10. Finally, you can never have too much art.

Real art lovers and collectors will always find a space for their new acquisition. Carefully hung, a room can take can any number of parings. This just takes a little practice to see what looks right next to each other. Once you’ve hung your new artwork you can move it around to another hook, it’s not fixed and that is the beauty of art. Here at Beady Eye Art we regularly move around our art collection, finding that this gives a much loved artwork a totally new lease of life as it absorbs light differently in a new space.

If you would like advice on ‘how to buy art’ then contact Madeleine Thomas at Beady Eye Art or come along to one of our pop-up art galleries.  We’d be delighted to help you and share our passion for owning original artwork.