When was the last time you walked into a friends house and thought, ‘wow their art is cool. Where do they get it?’. Never? Well, it happens to me quite often. Either I missed the high school course that taught everyone how to buy art, or my friends have an innate sense of what looks good on their walls. How do they know what to buy and how to present it?
When questions like this strike me, I need to find an answer. So here we are. No fanfare, no real introduction. This is post is broken down into two parts. One – a quick how-to guide for buying art. Two – where to buy art in Halifax.
Ready? Let’s begin.
The Purpose Of Buying Art
Before you spend your first dollar on art, make sure you have a plan. Creating a plan is no doubt intimidating, especially for the inexperienced art buyers. But when you have no experience in the art industry, the prospect of even entering an art show, gallery or store is frightening. The idea of figuring out what to look for or even what the proper language is intimidating enough to make you stay home.
To tackle this, you need to create a strategy. Thankfully creating an art plan is simple. Decide on a room to decorate, on a colour to focus, or on an overall feel you want to create, and then move forward. For example, you could build a colour scheme around the most dominant pattern your living room. This could include pulling out prominent colours in a plaid patterned couch and using them to inspire your art collection. Or if you lack a furniture piece to draw a scheme from, focus on finding colours that compliment your walls.
Building A Budget
For most things in life, building a budget is advisable. Why should buying art be any different? A budget will not only provide both a scope to your art purchases but, also help guide you where to buy the actual pieces. Even with a budget of just $1000, you will still be able to purchase beautiful pieces, so don’t let financial parameters dissuade you.
Size Does Matter (Kind Of)
If you are facing the choice between a 10’x10′ piece or a 30’x30′ piece, we recommend always going larger, if your finances allow. A larger piece will stand-out in whichever room it resides, letting it be both the centre of attention and a focal point for which you can build your collection around. We found this handy guide at Wayfair that helps determine which size of piece to buy.
Keep It Stay Local
Often, you can get a better bang for your buck by purchasing from brand new or artists who are just starting out. Aside from the possibility of the artwork increasing in value, you’ll be able to connect more with the artist and learn the story behind the piece. And if you chose to purchase from a local gallery, there may be leeway in the purchase price, as most places will build in a 5%-15% discount
Buy Something You Like
The last piece of advice and perhaps the most important is buy something you like. Not unlike finding a life partner, you’ll probably see the piece every day. If you don’t like the look of it on the shelf, why would you take it home? The art should inspire, bring you joy, and above all else, make your living space look great. Don’t mess it up by purchasing something that just doesn’t captivate you.
Now that we have the ‘how’, let’s look at the where. Aside from the classic art galleries, there are many other places in the city you can pick up new pieces.
Hear me out. Regardless if you’re budget is limited, you’re feeling adventurous, or you just love thrifting, there is lots of second-hand art to be had. A quick scan of Kijiji offers a variety of prints, framed and laminated pieces. The same kind of offering is available at places like Frenchy’s or Value Village, as well as any other independent second-hand store.
You’ll need to time your purchases to fall in line with these events, as they only occur sporadically throughout the year. Though if you can, you’re in for a treat. These pop-ups feature NSCAD students selling their original art, including ceramics, paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, letterpress cards, jewellery, fashion, sculpture, among other styles. All proceeds from NSCAD pop-ups go directly to the artists and encourages the overall Nova Scotian art scene, which is always a good thing.
Online Market Places
Like everything else in life, you can now buy original pieces of art online. Artailer, Fine Art Collector, or Zatista are all Canadian-based websites which allow you to purchase and ship artwork anywhere in the country. Depending on your preferred location of purchase, you’ll be able to sort pieces by price, medium, and style. Depending on your boldness, some websites will let you engage in online auctions. Who knew buying art could be thrilling?
Last but certainly not least, you can find lots and lots of available work at local galleries. Though galleries can charge a 50% markup on the listed pieces, you’ll get a better understanding of the history, the inspiration and overall feel of the piece before purchasing. The higher price you pay will also reflect the history and experience of the artist while boding well for the piece to continue to appreciate in value over the lifetime of ownership.
Wonderful post! Demystifying the art-buying process is helpful to expose more people to the possibilities of living with art.
On a related note, one of the best all around galleries in Halifax that I’d recommend to find both established and up and coming artists is Argyle Fine Art.
Thanks for reading, Brett! We would agree. Buying art is such an intimidating process. And thanks for the note about Argyle Fine Art! We might have to feature them when we do a recap of all the Halifax art galleries!
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