Best Places to Buy Art on a Budget

I wish I had the disposable income that allowed me to purchase works from my favorite galleries and artists, but let’s get real, that’s not happening any time soon! Instead, I have put together a list of places that have allowed me to slowly build my own collection of art at an affordable cost. Art should be available to everyone and luckily these days with the internet (and a few of my tips below) it can be, no matter the budget. Let’s get started!

PURCHASING
1. eBay is an amazing source for buying art on a budget. I have found quality paintings with gorgeous gilded frames at a fraction of the cost of say something from posters.com. One may think the older the item, the more expensive, but think again. These days, it is definitely better to be a buyer than seller on eBay – art is really going for cheap! While eBay is one of the best places to buy art on a budget, one must be savvy! Here are my tips…

What to search: Don’t know where to begin? I recommend searching for art by style, medium, artist or seller (gallery, direct or wholesale). After browsing, for example, “English Landscape Painting” or “Black and White Photography” you will begin to figure out your preferences. Still stumped? Open up a survey Art History book, browse the pages and see what catches your eye, then search similar keywords.

Types of Artists Available: There are different artists available: self representing artists and reproductions from famous artists. If you are looking for art on a budget, I recommend the former. Rather than go through an auction house or dealer, the middle man is taken out of the equation, and you can buy directly from the hands that crafted the piece, generally at a lower price. Lesser-known artists are more likely to sell their original work (not a print) at a lower price, allowing us to acquire a higher quality piece of art. Other advantages of buying from a self representing artist: the piece is unique and you can feel good about supporting lesser known or up-and-coming artists in the field. Who knows? maybe it will be worth a lot some day! Alternatively, this doesn’t mean that better known artists are not worth looking at even if you are on a budget.

Know the Product you are buying: Make sure to do your research so you know if you are either overpaying or coming home with a steal. Great resources that I use regularly to look up past auction prices, artists, signatures, provenance, etc are listed below under “researching art”.
If you are worried the piece is a replica, look at the provenance (full history and who owned it) of the item in the description area. If you are still uncertain, ask the seller.

Know the Seller you are buying from: In order to avoid bad experiences on eBay, it is important to not only research the item but also research the seller!! Look at the seller’s ratings before bidding! Ask questions if you are unsure of dimensions, conditions, etc. If they don’t answer, it is probably not worth buying from them.
Below are some of my favorite places to buy art:

2. Etsy (www.etsy.com)

3. Saatchi Art  (www.saatchiart.com)

4. RubyLane (www.rubylane.com)

5. OneKingsLane (www.onekingslane.com)

6. RealReal (www.therealreal.com) also awesome for clothing & accessories!

7. Fine Art at Amazon (in Beta) (www.amazon.com)

9. Paddle8 (http://paddle8.com/)

10. Artsicle (http://www.artsicle.com/communities) find art right from artist studio and search by city!

11. Auctions. I’m not talking Sotheby’s and Christies auctions, I’m talkin’ “dead mans auction” or a local estate sale. At St Andrews, I popped into what we called the “dead mans auction” at the beginning of each term. I got some pretty amazing prints for under 20 pounds (the frames alone were worth a lot more than that!).

If you can’t make it to your local auction or estate sale, I recommend using:

  • Invaluable (invaluable.com) – The worlds largest online auction marketplace of fine and decorative arts, antiques, collectibles and estate sales. Bid in real time on auctions around the world! Also a database.
  • The Sale Room (www.the-saleroom.com– browse and buy art and antiques at auctions. Very good for consumers.
  • Live Auctioneers (liveauctioneers.com
  • Auction Zip (www.auctionzip.com) – a bit lightweight, but useful.

12. Art Schools/ Student Art Fairs. In Boston every year in December, The Museum School opens its doors to the public to view and purchase students’ art work.  This is a great place to begin building a collection and who knows you may be supporting the next Picasso!  This year my mom and her girlfriends all  pitched in and bought a beautiful painting for a friend’s birthday. The recipient was so touched.  Talk about an impressive and special  birthday gift, or what?!

RESEARCHING ART it is important to educate yourself on what you are buying. I regularly use the below resources to look up artists, auction prices, dealers, signatures, etc. A few you have to pay for, but some are free with signing up.


Food For Thought…
A little food for thought to make your research and buying exciting;
Les Fox wrote the book “The Art Hunters Handbook: How to Buy Art for $5 and sell it for $1,000,000”. His premise is when you look at the number of paintings that sell at auction by listed artists it is a fraction of what any artist would produce in their lifetime. Therefore, there are billions of dollars of paintings yet discovered.

For my next art related post, I plan on sharing my favorite artists working today with links to their work! Do you have any tips for buying art? Would love to hear them!

Here are a few of today’s favorites. A little something for everyone…

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