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Buying art for dummies: a quick guide Buying art for dummies: a quick guide
It all started when cavemen began to draw on the walls. Since then everyone has, at one point or another, displayed some form of art in their... Buying art for dummies: a quick guide

It all started when cavemen began to draw on the walls. Since then everyone has, at one point or another, displayed some form of art in their home. It might have been something our kids created in kindergarten, for mom to proudly display on the fridge. Or maybe it’s a genuine impressionist painting by an elephant called Tojo, purchased while on holiday in Thailand. At some point we have all fallen in love with an “image” and chosen to decorate our home with that “must have” picture which momentarily amused or inspired us.

So, “art” for the home is nothing new. What is new is its’ abundance. Art is much more available now than it has ever been and the variety of things to choose from has never been more diverse. These days we can buy images of anything, ranging from architecture to erotica. There is art on the internet, in furniture stores, high street galleries or even at the multiple outlet retailers who tempt us with their range of mass produced “art”.

But what should we buy and where should we buy it? Anyone can hang a picture on the wall, it’s easy. Buy something suitable, bang a nail in the wall, hang it up – job done! There are only two simple, but often overlooked rules to apply to the purchase of a picture for your home or office:

  1. Buy what you truly like to look at.
  2. Spend what you can afford.

Such rules can, of course, be greatly extended but, simplistically, these are the two that really determine the purchase of most pictures sold today. What is more important is to understand what a picture is and what it does for you and your home.

Should you only buy your pictures from a gallery – or directly from the artist?

In both cases you can ask questions relating to the “art” that’s being sold and you should be able to expect a “sensible” answer. But both can be biased as they are hungry to make a sale. So, listen and take their advice with caution. Essentially, there is nothing wrong with buying their work, the artistry is mostly excellent and very worthy of being featured in your home, so long as you are aware that what you are buying is often a “fashionable piece” and like your hair style in your wedding photos, may look ridiculous in years to come. Whether you are told, with all genuine intention, that “this is a good investment”, choose not to believe it. The advice may well be right, but don’t take the risk. Stick to the two rules, if you like it and can afford it – buy it.

Pictures are much cheaper at the superstores

Yes, they certainly can be – and for very good reasons. Now, call me a snob, but for the same reasons I don’t go to overcrowded vacation destinations to sit on a beach full of thousands of other English speaking people, I don’t buy pictures from a pallet in Ikea. I don’t want to make my personal space, whether it is my home or office, to look exactly the same as everyone else’s. But, same rules… if you like it, there’s no one on this planet to say you can’t have it. Just don’t invite me for dinner.

I only buy original oil paintings

Very good, you are on the road to enlightenment and freedom of expression. However, you must be careful here too. Be sure of what you are buying. Any oil painting is worth only what someone is prepared to pay for it. A fair price to start from when pricing a work is double the amount it costs in materials, plus the amount of the hours it took to paint it. It all depends on the amount the artist expects to earn per hour, which doesn’t always put a fair valuation on a work of art. What that “fair value” is, is essentially a grey area and linked to the quality and skills of the individual artist. This type of artwork is at least “honest” and “original” so our two rules apply again.

One last thought

Just like the books on your shelves, the pictures on your wall tell others more about you than you might think. Consider the pictures you or your friends own now. What do they tell you about the people living in that house? Are they sporty, humorous, well travelled, pretentious, old fashioned, modern, driven by the herd, spontaneous, lovers of safe recognised artists, cultured – or haven’t they got a clue? You be the judge, but allow yourself to enjoy your chosen art. After all, your taste in art is as individual as you are – or it should be.

picture-frame-763299_1280Make your walls smile

Make your walls smile with the finest in photographic art. My inspiration comes from traveling all over the world: I fell in love with the exceptional things I saw and the remarkable people who crossed my path. My photographic art is my way of giving some of my travel memories back to the world.

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Wilko van de Kamp Author

WILKO VAN DE KAMP is the author of #1 international best seller The Freedom Project and several other books and e-books. He's also an award-winning photographic artist, and professional world traveler. His inspiration comes from traveling all over the world. He calls the Canadian Rocky Mountains his home, and the rest of the world his office. He has been capturing our wonderful planet, and it's beautiful inhabitants, for more than half his life. Wilko has spent his life traveling the world to capture awe-inspiring images for those who wouldn't see them otherwise, and to inspire others to embark on their journey of a lifetime. Through his art, writing and appearances as a keynote speaker he enjoys sharing his colorful experiences with the world. Visit him online at www.wilko.ca