Mass-produced goods or original art? There is an enormous difference. Genuine art touches us, speaks to us.
And today, it's no longer a problem to buy a work of art from an artist on the other side of the globe. But, buying art online? Is that safe?
What are the advantages and disadvantages, and what should you look for when buying art online? And what difference does it make if you buy from an art store or directly from the artist?
Since the invention of the Internet, the way we communicate, stay in touch, work, get information and shop has completely changed. This has had an impact on many industries. Even the art world has been turned upside down.
The art market offline and online
Before that, art outside museums was accessible only to a few. The circles were closed and elitist, the prices mostly unaffordable. If you didn't like being looked over your shoulder, you often didn't go at all.
The Internet has made the art market more accessible to both art lovers and artists. Today, you can enjoy art in the comfort of your armchair at home and don't have to get dressed up to feel uncomfortable over bad appetizers and stale champagne.
And it's thus much easier for artists to access the art market today. In the past, artists had no chance without gallery owners. Today, gallery owners also look online for new talent. But thanks to the new networked world, artists are also taking marketing into their own hands; via their own website and social media, they are independent of third parties and can show their art to art enthusiasts all over the world.
Buy art online - pros and cons
There are several ways to buy art online. Even the major auction houses now offer the option of buying online, in online galleries you can find everything from art by emerging to established artists, you can browse through virtual art marketplaces and find true works of art on artists' website and social media accounts. But what advantages - and disadvantages - does this actually bring?
- First things first: it's comfortable, casual, and time-independent. Browse for your next favourite piece on the sofa in your pyjamas after work? No problem!
- Just popping over to New York to check out the latest art scene? That's probably only possible for very few of us. Online, it doesn't matter where you are or where the artist has his studio.
- Want to know more? On websites or social media you can learn more about the artist, the artistic approach, the techniques, materials used, the artwork ...
- Still undecided? No problem! You can save the page and come back again and again.
- In the gallery, it is often difficult to imagine the artwork in your own space. On the Internet, there are photos of the artwork in a real setting. But there are also apps that let you see the work digitally on your own wall. Some artists - like me - offer a mock-up service. All I need from you for this is a digital image of the wall where the artwork will hang.
- The selection is unbeatable. Not only do you find artworks from all over the world, all genres are represented, art for every taste and every budget is offered. And you can search specifically according to your criteria.
- You can't experience the art directly. You only see an image of the art. Lack of other sensory impressions can make it difficult to "feel" the artwork.
- You depend on the photo to actually show the art. This is not always easy. Even with the greatest care, there may be small colour differences due to different monitors, for example.
- The enormous variety can also overwhelm, and you can get lost in the flood of offers.
As intimidating as visiting an art opening, for example, can be, getting dressed up for an event, meeting people who are interested in art, discussing the works of art on display with them ..., that also has flair.
- Those who browse through galleries, studios and art markets with a thirst for discovery always associate the purchase of a work of art with their own experience. Online, this is often not the case.
- International shipping can take time. Depending on where your new artwork is coming from, you may have to be prepared for a certain waiting time.
Of course, you don't have to decide whether to buy art offline or online. You can visit local galleries and openings, browse backyard studios and art markets while travelling, and still browse the Internet for inspiring art while sipping a glass of wine at home. That's because the democratization of the art market has brought another benefit. Pricing is much more transparent - and often simply more affordable.
The old masters certainly remain the preserve of financial moguls, but to become an art collector today you don't have to hope for an inheritance or win the lottery.
Buying art online - What you should look out for
If you want to buy art not as an investment but for yourself, the most important criterion is, of course, that you like the artwork. Nevertheless, you should think about a few things in advance. Are you "just" looking for a great piece, or do you already have a specific place for it? Then you should know how big or small the artwork should be. What is your budget? Are you looking for a specific style or colour scheme? Do you want the artwork to enhance or break up the style of your home?
Think about what's important to you and then get searching. Art is passion, it tells stories. Have you found a work of art that speaks to you, that touches you? Score! Now, a few tips from me on how to buy art.
Credibility: First impressions count, too. Of course, an outdated website does not have to be dubious. But if the design is old, is the store up to date? Part of the shopping experience is simply feeling good - even online. If an artist is not so concerned about the well-being of a potential buyer, this may be an indication that he is not so particular about other things either. Of course, there are also more concrete indications of whether a website is credible. One important point, the imprint. Trustworthy artists and art dealers always provide full contact details there, including address and telephone number. Are there general terms and conditions? Positive customer reviews and testimonials also give an impression of credibility.
Customer service: Can you find all important information on the website? Are there details about prices, delivery times and costs? How is the product packaged and what about returns? Is it easy for you to get in touch?
Artist Website or Art Shop - What's the Difference?
As a rule, artists are lone warriors. They simply cannot offer 24-hour customer service. Quality seals from e.g. Trusted Shops or Händlerbund cost from several hundred to over a thousand euros a year, an investment that artists often cannot afford. Not all customers rate the purchase, since individual artists sell significantly less than art stores, they can often only have fewer, or no ratings at all. However, this does not mean that these artists are not reputable. In fact, they often offer a much more personalized service.
Also, has the artist thought about more than just selling? Can you find details about how the artwork will be packaged safely? What if it gets damaged in shipping - and what if you don't like it at home after all? And how is the communication? Write to the artist beforehand. As I said, you should not expect a 24-hour service, but an answer in 24 - 48 hours at the latest. Is the contact nice, are questions answered willingly and competently? And listen to your gut feeling. Do you feel comfortable here, do you want to buy here?
What else can you do?
Explore the artist
Follow the artist on social media, discover his why. Is this important to you too? Do you agree with the artist's values? Can you relate to his style and vision?
High-resolution images are important so that you know what you're getting. This way you can also see details. Also read the description carefully.
Are there still some points that are unclear? Do you have specific questions - or concerns? Ask all the questions that are important to you. A trustworthy artist will be happy to answer them.