5 Tips for Selecting Art

Do you know what you are looking for?? I can hazard a guess, probably not or at best you think you have an idea! However did you know there is more art in the market place now than any other time previously, literally millions of artworks or what is mistakenly called art is in circulation! If you are unfamiliar with selecting and buying art this blog will assist in preparing you to do so! If you’re a confident art buyer, remember to challenge yourself a little in assessing your next art purchase

john maitland, artist

Rainforest II, John Maitland

So how do you arrange your thoughts to initially define your art taste, let alone you partners? Will they be similar or different and where does one start to qualify the art one likes? So much of your ‘likes’ in art come from your exposure or involvement with art, namely ones art education, art in the home you grew up in or at a relatives or friends, travels and art viewing, friends and colleagues who’s interest in art is talked about and shared etc.

I am making an assumption here! You are unlikely to consider art worthy to buy unless you have your own home i.e. house, apartment, unit etc! Home ownership gives you a safe haven for the art, enhances your living environment, and gives you enjoyment and satisfaction or even pride of art ownership.

Ken Strong, artist

Pittwater Turmoil, Ken Strong

Obviously your wall spaces available will dictate the numbers of 2d art, i.e. paintings, works on paper, limited edition prints etc. Available floor spaces allowing for a navigable people flow around, can be the stage for 3d art collecting; principally sculpture; as well as outside courtyards, deck, veranda’s and garden grounds.

Tip 1 Where

Define where you want to place art. Prioritise the areas for art; qualify the important areas for art those that have the greatest site impact with viewing frequency. May I suggest you even get a brown paper roll unfold to an approx. wall size of the 2d art you could accommodate and fix this to the wall. Look at it for a while, consider wall balance then maybe fold side or bottom of paper and re affix to wall for final adjustment to establish the size you most prefer!

Tip 2 What

On an evening or weekend with few or no distraction or overriding ”to do’s”, sit down with the art decision makers and view an Australian art picture book with ‘stick its’ at the ready to review the pages of the book, sticking a tag on the artworks you like. Do this separately first and then review the common tags. NB two coloured tags required. This is the first albeit basic way to understand your partner’s art taste and preferences. This of course will open a new platform for discussion, thrash it out to define a range of styles and artists in common. This presents the first process in defining your tastes and aligning it with your partner, friend, tenant etc. Record the artists names, styles, colours, themes you have in common and why! The later reference here will be useful when you are reviewing. It will give insight, understanding and appreciation of the others point of view.

Tip 3 Visit 

With artists names at hand, visit a public art gallery or art institution, preferably one which has a permanent collection with a note pad at the ready. As you view the development of art by ‘period’ age you will understand and refine your art tastes? Share the art you respond to or not and begin to understand one another’s art preferences. Record this because this will be most helpful with the next stage of review, research and refinement.


Tracey Smith, artist

Echo of Emotions, Tracey Smith

Tip 4 Review

The notes and qualification of the art and artist art you like, need to be tested. Often you see one or two artworks of an artist you like, however this is not enough to say I begin to understand their artwork – style, subject matter, colouring, paint finish etc may show similarities. However the more you explore an artist’s work over time the more you are most likely to see change developing within their, style, tones, subjects. All of which are up for variation, refinement and influence. So just when you think you may be able to recognise an artist style, move on say 10 years in their output of art and differences will surely be evident. One can’t be surprised? It is natural for a whole raft of things to change in an artist life as with our own! This is when we recognize development in an artist direction and influence. E.g. the 1940’s figurative work could be replaced in the 1950’s with early abstraction and so on. Artist are not static, thank goodness, otherwise we would be in for a continuous out pouring of derivative art. Find the art you prefer from the different period of an artist’s career or direction!

Tip 5 Find

So you have your short list of art, now go looking for real examples in the market place for your favourites? This is a process in itself and how to understand where to look? This process defines what’s available, however be prepared for a complicated road unless you have help or time. Look out for roadblocks and bear traps namely; fakes, atypical examples, good and bad art by the artist, art with condition problems, understand price levels, comprehend an artists values and how ‘periods’ for their art will mean differing sell prices, and see some art that should have been destroyed by the artist before leaving the studio.

In the future I will expand further on buying art.

Happy  collecting!

Yours in art,
Mark Widdup
CHG Director

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