13. Buying Art: Top 5 Mistakes People Make


Buying Art

Are you considering buying artworks for your home, but haven’t done it before? Perhaps you’ve never done it because you think that the buying of a painting is only for the super-rich. But it could be affordable if you do it correctly.

There are different ways to acquire artwork. You can buy directly from the artist, visit a gallery and choose a painting, buy via online galleries, or at an auction. Nowadays people are more and more purchasing artwork online.   

But whatever purchasing avenue you follow, and whether you are buying an original or a reproduction, there are common pitfalls you should avoid. We’ll discuss the five most common mistakes first-time buyers (and sometimes even seasoned buyers) make.

Mistake 1: Buy For The Wrong Reasons

Buying Art

Many prospective buyers listen to what other people tell them about the “newest buying trend”. Sometimes the advice is to buy a reproduction of an artwork by one of the old masters. Others will tell you that it is the trend to buy works from upcoming artists. 

If you listen to all the free advice and just buy a painting according to the current trend, you can end up with a painting that does not appeal to you. One of the main reasons for buying a painting is to enjoy looking at it. If it doesn’t appeal to you, you’ve wasted your money. 

If you are not an art connoisseur, or frequently buying paintings as investments, don’t buy a painting for its investment’s value. Buy the painting you would like to have in your home. If the value increases it’s a bonus. If you love paintings by the old masters, buy a reproduction and enjoy it in your home. “Ville-d’Avray” by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot is a good example.

Mistake 2: You Don’t Have A Specific Space In Mind For Your Painting

Buying Art

When you are spending money on artwork, you don’t want to hide it in a storage place. You want to put it on display in your house for you to enjoy, and for your friends to appreciate. 

Plan where you want to put the painting. The artwork must be able to fit into the space you have in mind. Also, ensure that the light is not too bright or too dim. If it is a rather large space (and painting) you have in mind, make sure you can get it through your doors.

Remember, when your painting is against the wall, it forms part of the décor of that room. If you love the painting and it doesn’t fit in with your existing décor, it is perhaps time to redecorate!

Mistake 3: You buy From An Unscrupulous Art Seller

Buying Art 3

Unfortunately, there are art sellers which are dishonest and unscrupulous. Often they are targeting new art buyers. They normally come across as your best friend, helping you to buy the right painting. In many cases, they don’t have the painting you are looking for, but promise to get it for you from a reputable dealer. 

These sellers also sometimes “forget” to mention whether the painting is genuine or a flawless reproduction. And when they mention to you that it is a reproduction, they inflate the price and still tell you that the original is much more expensive, without giving you any proof of that.

Sometimes, if you are a new art enthusiast, an unscrupulous dealer might sell you a very good reproduction, claiming it is the original. This Pop Art Superman is an example of an excellent reproduction of the original.

The golden rule is to stay away from door-to-door art sellers. And if they have something you are interested in, get details about previous clients and check with them.  

Mistake 4: Make a payment when refunding is not possible

Buying Art 4

If you are buying “face-to-face” from an art agent or any other individual, do not pay any amount, whether via bank transfer, credit card, or cash before you’ve received the artwork. 

When an amount has been paid and you are not satisfied that the painting you’ve received is the one you’ve ordered, the probability of getting it returned and your money back is generally next to zero. 

When you are buying online the seller might require a deposit before dispatching the painting to you. Before you do the payment, get a contract from the dealer which specifies that if the painting is not what you’ve ordered, it could be returned and refunding is a possibility. 

Mistake 5: Buy From An Unreliable Gallery

Buying Art

Many new buyers make the mistake to think that if an art gallery advertises online, it automatically indicates that it is legit and is delivering what has been ordered. It is difficult to distinguish between the good galleries and the fly-by-nights. 

When using an online art gallery, search online for reviews and comments by previous customers. Look at the gallery’s website and read all the terms and conditions.

Always look for a gallery with consistent customer service. Timely responses are also a good indication of the gallery’s level of customer service. Learn all you can about the company before committing to a purchase.


There are pitfalls when buying art, but if you are aware of them, art purchasing can become very addictive! The best advice on how to stay clear of the pitfalls is to use a reputable online gallery like 1st-art-gallery.com. 

Enjoy buying your favorite painting. 

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