All Your Concerns About Online Art Buying, Solved

  • by Francesca Testa

We understand. Art buying is already a bit tricky on its own especially for those who are only starting to collect now. There are a lot of things to keep in mind and a lot more to consider. That's why it's no surprise if new (and new) art collectors get a little skeptical about online art buying. So we gathered all the concerns art buyers have when making online art purchases and we're providing solutions just for you.

Condition of the Piece

Not seeing a piece in person can be a challenge to know whether or not it is in good condition. Digital rendering of photos also seems to affect they appear on the screen and it may differ especially when it comes to the colors.

To make sure that the piece you're about to purchase is in good condition, research is best to be done first. See reviews about the seller. You can also ask for a condition report if you need better assurance.

Provenance

Even when you're purchasing artwork from a reputable gallery, provenance is always one of the first questions a collector should ask. With new works, establishing provenance for the piece starts with your purchase.

Verify provenance with the seller and if possible, with the artist. Your seller should be able to prove it through a few documents:

  • A receipt, statement, or certificate that is directly from or signed by the artist or the gallery, or both.
  • A photo or video of the artist with the artwork.
  • Appraisal form from an expert, a recognized authority, or an expert on the artist.
  • Names of the previous owners of the art that are verifiable.
  • Newspaper, magazine, or article clippings about the artwork.
  • Documentation or certification from the artist, a relative of the artist, or someone qualified to speak authoritatively about the art.

“The more the industry innovates and grows into digital platforms as a means of selling, the more it improves over time.”

Authenticity

With the previous concern comes authenticity. Just like any purchase, any collector would want to get what they pay for and the artwork's authenticity is a top concern.

If there are no details about the artwork's Certificate of Authenticity, ask the seller about it. The certificate should include a signature of the artist, a publisher, an established dealer, or an acknowledged expert on the artist, and if possible other security marks.

Details on Logistics

Once you've decided to purchase an item, next of the concerns will be shipping and insurance. Sellers should be able to provide information about shipping and other issues like damage during delivery or worse, loss.

If such information is not provided for by the seller, it's never a bad idea to ask. You may also ask about their packaging process and its cost, and if it's possible to double safety measures during packaging. Return policy should also be clearly stated on the product page or within the site itself. It will be important if the artwork delivered does not match the one on its product page.

The more the industry innovates and grows into digital platforms as a means of selling, the more it improves over time. A lot of sellers would keep your mind at peace through reassurances or by simply being responsive. So don't be afraid to ask for reassurance before making your first online art purchase.

Photos courtesy of Unsplash