At the Affordable Art Fair we’re firm believers that anyone can collect art. But, for those of us who aren’t au fait with the ways of the art world, dipping your toe into the market can feel like a daunting experience.
So, just how do you overcome the dreaded FOBRO (a.k.a. Fear Of Being Ripped Off), and how do you know, before you take the plunge, that the piece you’re purchasing is really the one for you? We’ve been chatting with some of our gallerists and have complied a list of things to do and questions to ask to help you collect like an expert …
1. Explore the options
Explore as much as you can at the fair and get an overview of the range of artworks on offer. As Mark Jason, of Mark Jason Gallery, explains, ‘do some research, take your time. See as much work as you can, and make a note of your top 5-10 pieces.’ Comparing works also gives you an idea of what’s available in your price range. Mark continues, ‘buy the best piece you can in your budget … sometimes it’s a case of buying a major work by a minor artist or if your budget is modest, a minor piece by a major artist.
2. Get to know the artist
One of the most exciting parts of collecting contemporary art is discovering unknown and emerging artists, and it’s important to get to know as much as you can about their status and background. As Angie Davey, Creative Director of Eyestorm, points out reputation is key: ‘the first factor that effects artwork pricing is probably the artist’s name … ask where they studied, where they currently are in their career and where they’ve shown their work recently.
3. Embrace the unconventional
Don't buy an artwork because you think it’s what you should be buying; if an unusual work captures your imagination, go for it. As Mark Jason says, ‘on many occasions people arrive at the fair looking for something quite specific and leave with something completely different. You really don’t know what your reaction is going to be to an artwork until you see it.’ Who knows, you could have just spotted a future masterpiece!
4. Examine the materials
As Diane Tuckey of Outline Editons says, ‘an artwork’s materials can have a big impact on pricing. For example, we’ve sold pieces by an artist which command a considerably higher price than her normal works because they were done in gold leaf – the resultant art is priced to reflect these material costs.
5. Be confident in the originality
At the Affordable Art Fair all artwork on show is original, so there’s no need to worry that your investment isn’t unique. However, for limited edition prints, there are certain factors to be aware of to give you confidence in your purchase. As Angie Davey explains, ‘a limited edition print from a run of five will be valued higher than a print in an edition of 50, even if it’s the same size and by the same artist. This is because there are fewer of that particular print and it’s therefore rarer – fewer people in the world will have it.
As Diane Tuckey concludes, ‘the best reason for buying an artwork is the obvious one: because you like it’. Collecting art is, ultimately, about developing and learning to trust your taste, and as Angie Davey declares, there is such a thing as ‘love at first sight when it comes to art!