Art is one of the most emotive forms of human expression. We use it to show our opinions, feelings, historical events, memorable scenes, quiet contemplative episodes, literally anything can be depicted by art, from the very abstract to the very literal.
It is only our own perspective that changes the meaning of art to something different, either by the artist or by the viewer of said art piece.
Being one of the purest forms of expression means that art is highly valued and sought after by people within our society. Most people have at least one piece of art in their homes, no matter how small it is.
As such, many people want to own at least one art piece, if only to decorate a room of their house, but the modern day has changed the way we buy art.
Nowadays, you can go online and find an art piece with relative ease, unlike before where you had to trawl markets or auctions to find a piece you liked. For those uninitiated in online shopping, this task can be a daunting one.
How do you buy art online? How do you make sure it is correct or the right piece? Well, in this article, we seek to help the humble Internet Explorer and give you advice on how to buy art online.
The first thing that you need to do is research. Researching what kind of art you want and where to buy it will narrow down your options considerably and make it easier picking a piece out. It doesn’t have to be a very specific piece you want, although that is also fine, just an area of art that you like.
There are websites all over the internet selling art, and it is important to know where you are buying from. For example, I wouldn’t buy an artwork from eBay or Gumtree unless I personally knew who was selling it.
These two websites are mostly for the sale and purchase of second-hand goods, and they are more about allowing people to get in contact with one another than checking the goods themselves, that is for you to do.
Therefore, I would suggest finding out about a website before ever purchasing from them. There are many websites on the internet that can help you with this, and even some you wouldn’t expect.
Websites like Trustpilot or Glassdoor are mainly used to evaluate businesses, but they can be used to look up websites as well, as they still operate as a business.
The reviews on these websites will give you an understanding of how well others have gotten on when buying from them, which can save you from getting scammed in the future. Once you are certain of the website you are going to use and what kind of art you are looking for, it is time to buy.
Best Websites To Use To Buy Art
The internet has made art far easier to sell than it was previously. No longer do art pieces sit in out of the way galleries, waiting for the chance to be purchased.
Now, artists can sell them directly to consumers via their own virtual storefront. The question is what websites offer the best artistic pieces on the market for you.
The first website we will look at today is Etsy. Etsy is an e-commerce, American based company that allows people to sell vintage or handmade items and craft items or supplies.
The company was started in 2005 and has since become a billion-dollar powerhouse that many artists use regularly to sell their works.
Anything that can be considered a form of art can be sold on Etsy, as long as it isn’t too controversial. Paintings, crochet, jewelry, clothes, blankets, anything that can be considered art. One of the main reasons people like Etsy is that it caters to independent artists who are not independently wealthy.
This can be anyone with some talent and determination. From a software engineer who loves creating macramé owls to a warehouse operator who has a talent for watercolors, you can buy art on Etsy from literally any kind of person, and these people are not limited to the country you live in.
Etsy is a worldwide service, so you could feasibly buy a handcrafted goat statue from a person from the Kimberley in Northern Australia and have it sent to Kansas City, Missouri without ever leaving your home.
The review system for Etsy is very well done as well. It very much prioritizes the art and the experience of buying that art.
It makes artists want their pieces to be good quality and the customer’s experience to be overall a good one, otherwise it will negatively affect the artist in that customer’s review. This means you are less likely to get sellers who try to trick you or never send you the product, unlike other websites.
Even if you have problems, Etsy’s customer support is actually pretty good. It is very reliable and quick, with any email or note sent to them promptly responded to and investigated.
The customer support is also ready to act as an intermediary between the customer and the seller should a dispute occur, which is a relief for most people who frequently experience radio silence from other websites.
There are some downsides to Etsy, though not many at all. The main one is that Etsy is basically a giant marketplace that is regulated, but there are no strict standards that sellers have to adhere to.
This is great to see works of art you never would from artists who are not professionals, but it also means you have to rely on their means for these pieces. Some sellers simply don’t have the capability to sell globally, and so that can be restrictive.
Another problem is that Etsy relies on the customers to give them feedback and information. This is great if you are buying from an established seller, but new sellers are treated warily.
For new sellers, there will be no reviews or information about their art, its quality, or the selling experience, which is never good when buying artwork.
Everyone knows Amazon.com. It is a supergiant of a company, being one of the world’s largest companies, and it has its fingers in a lot of pies. ]On the Amazon store page, there are sections for groceries, music, and art. Amazon Handmade is the online department where they manage this, and in Handmade you can find more than just original artwork.
Handmade sells anything that has a slight artistic value, from decorative kitchenware to gift baskets, anything that can be considered art will be on this storefront.
This gives as much range to independent artists as Etsy does, however thanks to Amazon’s bigger company value they can ensure a wider audience for these artists and can help things go more smoothly.
This makes an enormous difference when it comes to shipping and customer service.
Amazon has a system where you can order art that is ‘fulfilled by Amazon’, whereby Amazon makes themselves responsible for the shipping of the art and customer service will deal with either the artist or the customer rather than have them hash it out themselves.
This is very convenient and saves you the hassle of dealing with things yourself.
The review system is also very well done by Amazon and rivals Etsy in its quality. It allows for sellers to answer specific questions before selling and lets customers review the sellers to their heart’s content.
The size of Amazon as well means that there are plenty of reviews from around the world, giving you a broad scope of what to expect from certain sellers.
However, there are a couple of problems with Amazon, not least its size. We stated earlier that Amazon’s size as a company helped in selling products, but this is also a hindrance.
With so many sellers on the marketplace, some dubious ones always slip through, and this is much more likely on Amazon than on Etsy.
Etsy seeks to create a form of community that will hold each other accountable, or the company will hold people accountable. This is not the case with Amazon, and you are much more likely to get unexpected low-quality pieces when buying from them.
Another issue is that Amazon has a tendency to have imitation pieces appear of original artwork. For example, an artist will place an art piece on Amazon, then a few days later another seller will put a very similar art piece on the site but for significantly cheaper, thus pricing the artist out of the market.
This is a huge problem, and it’s a difficult one to solve, due to Amazon’s size among other things.
This department of Amazon is also very new, so it hasn’t got much customer feedback quite yet. All this means that you could find some art pieces that you love, but that no one has said anything on.
It makes buying artwork a bit of a gamble, and not many people are willing to take the step to buy something that may be in their house for years.
In a different direction from both Amazon and Etsy, we now have Saatchi Art. In America today, Saatchi Art is probably one of the most popular places to buy original art pieces from experienced artists. This website tries very hard to maintain the image of a traditional gallery and sets its standards accordingly.
Their artworks are more traditional with the categories on the website being: paintings, photography, drawings, sculpture, prints, and digital art, and it is set out in a more traditional way, with the potential buyer able to scroll through pieces that contain the name of the piece and the name of the artist.
Each piece is also viewed and categorized by a curator as well, giving the site seemingly more legitimacy than others. Any art that stands out amongst its peers to these curators will also end up in the Saatchi Art catalog and will be freely advertised by them.
If you are interested in art and art investment, Saatchi Art even offers a free advisory course that gets a curator to guide you in choosing the artwork you want.
What’s great about Saatchi Art is that it features so many young artists who are incredible, but struggling to find their feet or a leg up into the industry. The professional curators on hand as well give these artists even more credit and help them establish themselves further.
One other factor that would make people go to Saatchi for their artwork is that shipping cost is already included in the art piece’s price. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about hidden fees that may make you stop and worry.
Unfortunately, as with every service, there are some problems. The review services for the seller and the artworks are non-existent. This wouldn’t be so much of an issue, if it wasn’t the seller’s responsibility to send and ship the artwork rather than Saatchi Art.
Unfortunately, it is and when you are waiting weeks for a piece that can be shipped in a day, it doesn’t look good.
This is annoying as the rest of their customer service is fantastic, and they treat their customers well in all other aspects, but by leaving it down to the artists in this one circumstance, it can make customers feel a little underappreciated.
Known for its beautiful designs and prints, Minted is a United States company and works a little differently from the other websites here. While you can buy complete originals, you can also use an already existing piece as inspiration for the artwork that you want.
Not only that, but you get a piece of art commissioned that is something you have imagined. All you have to do is choose an available artist on the site, click request commissioned art and complete a form.
Once you have completed the form, you and the artist can discuss the price and once said price has been agreed upon, Minted will collect a down payment that usually amounts to 50% of the agreed upon price.
After this, the artist will then either make the art or a mock-up of the art and present what the final piece will look like to you. You then pay the other 50% of the price for the piece, and the artist insures and ships the original artwork to you.
Although most of the onus seems to be on the artist, Minted actually helps you out a lot. They are in fact in charge of manufacturing, shipping, and customer service, so while you and the artist are in charge of the art piece itself, the company helps in all other matters and can be relied upon to solve problems or disputes.
Due to the simplicity of the service and the narrow scope in which they operate, there are not too many downsides to using Minted as a service.
The only one we can think of is its narrow scope. Unlike Amazon or Etsy, the product you have bought won’t move as fast, and you won’t get it the next day or in the next few days.
However, this is to be expected with the service Minted offers, and it’s not something that can really be fixed, considering that the artwork is commissioned and has to be made by one person instead of a factory or team.
Other Things To Consider
When buying art online there are few other things to consider beyond the artwork itself and these are things that can often be forgotten in the modern day, where everything is done either impulsively or in a rush thanks to our busy lifestyles. But they are things that we need to look at when buying art of any kind.
If you are to buy a new art piece, you may want to think about the decor of your home. Your home is an expression of you and your personality.
A home with no art but filled with instruments is a home where sound is incredibly important to that person, on the other hand, a home that is spotless but has a child’s drawings on the fridge is a clean home with a soft spot for family.
What you display in open areas shows the people visiting your home what has value and what kind of style you enjoy. If you have a huge colorful display in a plain, minimalist room, it may annoy you for throwing the room out of the style you prefer.
Therefore, it is essential to think about the decor of a room before purchasing.
We love art. It is wonderful and amazing, yet it takes up so much space. Genuinely, a canvas painting is so wide sometimes it is a hassle to get through the door and if you live in a bungalow with small rooms, then there is almost no point in buying a big painting.
However, this doesn’t mean you should stop buying art. It’s just you have to fit your art expectation with your home reality.
Try to find pieces that you can fit in your home, and think about what you already have in your home that is stopping you from purchasing that particular piece. You do not want the art you just bought to live in the garage for the next 10 years.
Art is expensive. This is not an arbitrary number, it is a cumulative number that factors in the amount of time it takes to make, the expense of the art supplies, the skill involved, and many other factors that make it expensive.
As such, it is worth making a budget and using this budget to determine what art you will buy.
You should never be put off from buying art online, especially with all the websites that offer to help you get art. It is surprisingly easy to buy art from the artist through these sites and if anything goes wrong, they are there to help you out.
However, you should do what you do with all your shopping and have a look around. Find some reviews or helpful tips from other customers of these sites, they will give a clear idea of what to do and who to buy from.