Buying art today is not easy. Anyone interested in acquiring a   painting, sculpture or illustration  soon we will discover that there are many platforms, channels, artists, prices and options. In addition, if we want to buy art as an investment, we must take care the factors directly influence the value investing quotes. Therefore, today we present a quick and easy guide to know better the art market.


Buy art: main motivations

The current art buyer goes beyond the traditional collector. Thanks to the internet and new technologies it is possible to access a wider market. The last report Hiscox says that there is a growing trend in buy art online, changing a traditionally opaque and elitist market.

Today is easier and transparent to know the most sought-after artists, discover young talents or see which collections are exhibited in international galleries. Consequently, we also begin to see a greater diversification of the profile of the buyer. From the businessman who seeks a secure investment to a couple of young people who have just become independent and want a painting to decorate their living room. According to this study, more than half of transactions are concentrated in works with a value of less than 1.000€.

To summarize, art can be bought for different reasons, the most common ones:

  • As a status symbol (identification with a social group)
  • Investment possibilities in the medium or long term
  • Buy hedonist, personal enjoyment  of the owner

If we think about buying your first art work, it is very likely that you want to acquire another one in the future. For this reason, art dealers know that with the first sale there is usually a new collector. This collector, amateur or expert, can be a single person (private collection), a public institution or a company/corporation.

Main channels for buying art

It’s possible to buy art in different channels:

  • Art Galeries.  Undoubtedly, the most known and iconic sales channel. The galleries usually work with temporary exhibitions of artists who sale a complete edition / collection. In this way, the customer can buy one or several pieces, in the added value of being able to see them live. On the contrary, most galleries still have a very elitist image and higher prices.
  • Art fairs.  They are the most popular option and the one that allows the direct purchase / sale of art. Artists usually come in person, making it easier for clients to meet them directly as well as the option to see the latest works. We can find different fairs, some of them focused on a very specific public. Therefore, it is highly recommended to visit the official website of the fair first and know which artists are going to participate.
  • Online platforms.  Currently there are many websites and   marketplaces   where we can buy art works directly from artists, collectors or companies. The downside is the artists who collect are unknown or they don’t mention about their career. The result is a very impersonal relationship.   The Internet user is usually guided by the price and appearance of the work.
  • Buy direct to the workshop or study.  Known as “primary market.” Going directly to the workshop is the best way to know the artist’s work and his vision, in this case, a priori we should know the artist’s work well, its location and have references about its quotation. It’s possible that the artist has signed a contract with some distributor or exclusive representative, a fact that can influence the sale price of the workshop, in any case, this type of acquisitions is strategic and we must know the conditions and references.
  • Private distributors. Here we find art dealers, representatives,   commission agents… These promote and give value to the artists with whom they work. They are responsible for visiting customers and establishing a more personal relationship, something very important if we are looking for a long-term investment.
  • Auction houses.  In England, the United States and China is where the main auction houses are concentrated. Reserved to renowned artists, they are the ideal channel if we look for a work as investment, well documented (essential to avoid falsifications) and perfectly preserved. The auction houses are also a springboard for young artists who manage to enter and find an interested buyer, hence their exclusivity.

In a parallel way, in we can find alternative players in the art market. One of them is co-ownership of art or crowfounding (for example, to acquire a rare or endangered work), as well as foundations. In these cases, the purchase is usually promoted by a patrimonial value, that is to say, to guarantee the conservation of a significant piece for a collective.


Supporting services

In the art market there are several specialized professionals in   providing coverage to the different needs of the buyer:

  • Insurance of works of art
  • Authentication specialists (very helpful to avoid counterfeiting)
  • Conservation and preservation technicians
  • Art consultants.They are very useful if we think about making a large investment or want to know which works have a higher price
  • Transport and storage companies (special logistic coverage)

As you can see, there are many factors that we must consider we buy an art work, whatever our motivation and budget. For this reason, it is important to know the work of the artist, who represents, at what moment of his career he is and value his work beyond the final price.