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Art Buying 101

Art Buying 101

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The internet and some useful tips make buying contemporary art more accessible than you thought.

Luckily, nowadays buying international contemporary art doesn't mean you have to charter a jet to Dubai, and it doesn't mean spending a mint of money. The most popular pieces are usually reproduced in limited quantities as prints—sometimes called artists' or original prints to differentiate them from mechanically printed reproductions, like a poster—and can be etchings, engravings, screen prints, and lithographs. All of these can be ordered and shipped through galleries to your home online.

That being said, it is thrilling to explore your hometown with a new perspective, that of an curious art buyer. Get a feel for the style that suits your taste by visiting local museum exhibitions and galleries. If you are willing to do the legwork you can purchase pieces directly from the artist studio for less markup. Dealing with artists themselves can be frustrating, but can also add depth and story to a piece that you may eventually own. Also, talk to the owners of restaurants and shops that display art that compels you. They will give you a personal perspective, give the piece context, and may offer up some insider knowledge to steer you towards undiscovered—and less expensive—local talent.

As proponents of respect and celebration of the arts, expanding your artistic horizons is a mark of a sophistication that makes for a great conversation starter. But never buy a piece of art because you like it. Buy a piece because you have to have it. This is how a life long relationship with fine art begins.

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