Antiques guide: how to shop for art

You may find the art world an unfamiliar and intimidating place. Do not fear. Here we show you how investing in art can be easy and affordable...

Artist and art dealers discussing paintings
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ASK THE EXPERTS

‘I would always recommend buying original art from a trusted, independent gallery or dealer, if you’re a novice,‘ says Craig Kerrecoe, Director of Cambridge Art Fair. ‘Buying from an art fair is a great way to start an art journey as you’ll be able to meet gallerists and specialist dealers who will all be able to give you advice and guidance.’

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BUY WHAT YOU LOVE

The same applies to buying antiques – if you see a piece of art that you love and you want to buy it, go for it. The most important thing is that you like the look of it and will enjoy it for many years to come.

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DO YOUR RESEARCH

It’s a really good idea to familiarise yourself with the art world before making a potentially big investment. Spend time exploring different styles and periods, researching artists and exposing yourself to art. ‘You need to have some idea of what it is you’re looking for and what sort of sale price that art is currently achieving,’ says Craig. ‘The best way to do this is to visit a number of different galleries and art fairs and have an understanding of the market.’

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THINK ABOUT HOW IT WILL LOOK IN YOUR HOME

While you may love the look of a piece of art in a large white gallery space, it may not have quite the same appeal in your home. ‘I’d strongly recommend that you be prepared to change your decor to suit the art rather than the other way around,’ advises Craig.

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ASK QUESTIONS

‘The artist’s standing is important,’ says Craig. ‘Are they emerging (recently qualified) or mid-career? Do they have a good degree from a respected art school? Have they sold work at the prices you’re considering? Are they represented by a respected gallery or dealer?’

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STICK TO YOUR BUDGET

‘Original art from an emerging artist represented by a dealer at an art fair can start as low as £200 for a small piece, but you can obviously spend thousands and beyond on art from celebrated artists,’ says Craig. ‘It’s all about setting a budget that you can afford and then researching the market at that price level.’ But be prepared that you may see something way above budget that you want to buy and consider how you might pay for it (such as the Arts Council’s Own Art scheme – see below).

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THE OWN ART SCHEME

The Arts Council’s Own Art scheme partners with galleries and art fairs to offer interest-free finance on the purchase of contemporary art and craft. You can use Own Art to buy art and crafts priced between £100 and £25,000. You simply pay back the price of the artwork in 10 monthly instalments. ownart.org.uk