What To Know When Buying Art off the Internet

A pretty pic from Minted.com

A pretty pic from Minted.com

Most people hire me not because they don't know where to get art from, but because there are TOO many places to buy it.  People don't know what's what, and the options are excessive; you can get art from galleries, auction houses (fun fact: auctions are open to the public), home stores, artist studios, craft fairs, street stands, and the Internet.  Google-ing "abstract painting" with your sweats and vino seems like the easiest option, and I guess it is if you don't care what that art looks like or how you spend your money. But in case you do, consider these points:

1.  Edition Size

Edition Size refers to the number of identical pieces an artist has produced (specifically for pieces like photographs and prints).  Fine art photographers, for example, create limited editions and the edition size is included in the piece description (1 of 10, 3 of 5, etc.). When the edition size of a photo or print isn't listed, the edition is likely unlimited --- ie that piece can be reproduced until the end of time. Many many many art-based websites like Minted.com and Art.com sell unlimited edition prints. Clearly this is fine and quite popular, but just know what you're buying before clicking "ADD TO CART"; most people would feel uncomfy spending $2k on a photograph that's an edition of 10,000, but forking over $50 for an unlimited edition print that's already framed may be your cup of tea. 

2. Framing

Many times prints available online will be available with or without framing. The frame options are likely black, white and light wood and they are most definitely not the best quality. Again, totally fine, but just know what you're buying and possible check out last week's post on what makes a cheap frame cheap.  Plus, I'm a BIG fan of buying affordable prints for certain spaces and getting them custom framed to makes them look so much more pricey. Typically the low-cost frames just make the low-cost prints look low-cost.  

3. "Original Painting"

The term "original painting" is often overused and misleading on art websites. Sometimes you can buy that "original painting" and so can your friend 5 minutes later..., and then you can buy the exact same "original painting" the next day.  HOW SPECIAL. Note that that artist is not banging out identical original paintings in sizes small, medium and large just to meet demand -- what is actually happening is that once upon a time there was an original painting and the artist simply reproduces it with some sort of printer an unlimited number of times. It's called a giclée and it's essentially a nice poster.  SO, yes, feel free to buy and these can serve great purposes, but know what you're putting your money into and prep yourself for some ink on canvas. 

Is this helpful? Were you amused? Is anyone out there reading this? (Mom, call me if you don't know how to reply!)