How to buy your first art print

It’s been a year since I bought my first limited-edition art photography print – ‘Camelia’ by Andrea Torres Balaguer, which is now in my sitting room, above my desk. It was the last of an edition of seven … 7/7.

That’s how it goes in the art world. If you buy a print, the chances are it is a limited edition, and then when the last one is sold, that is it. Usually, but not always, as the print number rises, so does the price.

It took me six months to decide what to buy, and during that time I learnt a lot not only about the process of buying art – because it is a process, especially when you start out – but also about myself. I trawled London, but ended up buying from a gallery in Barcelona . Maybe because my son was born in Barcelona, and Barcelona is part of my story.

The 10 key things I learnt from buying my first limited edition art photography print:

  1. You don’t have to be rich to collect art – everything has an opportunity cost. In my case it was the cost of decorating my sitting room. The print lasts longer.
  2. Being on the hunt for an artwork puts you in a position of power… galleries want to know you. Use that power responsibly by continuing to be kind and encouraging to everyone, including to yourself.
  3. Keep your nerve steady. Buying limited editions can make the heart beat faster … Is the edition going to run out? If the second edition sells, then I’ll have to pay more. Take what happens as, ‘It was meant to be.’ It’s not about winning or losing.
  4. Observe, observe, observe. It’s all about developing your eye and your personal taste … see as many exhibitions and go to as many gallery openings and fairs as you can. The more you see, the more you will know what you want.
  5. Identify why you are buying. In my case, it was to replace a Lionel Edwards’ print handed down through the family. I had had a Maria Kondo moment… the print no longer gave me joy. Is it to go in a particular room or space? If so, what size does it need to be, and how will it link in colourwise?
  6. Collecting art is like buying books… it marks your path in life. Enjoy travelling on that path. It took me six months to buy my print and I enjoyed every step I took to get there.
  7. Research every artist that catches your eye … Google, Google, Google, Does the artist show potential to develop their work further? Or do they just use one style? Do they seem like the kind of person you would want to meet? Before you buy, see the work ‘live’… unless the price is good or you want a bit of a gamble. Saying that, I don’t buy fashion online and most people do.
  8. After all the observing and the research, go with your gut instinct … be ruled by your heart rather than your head. Buying art is intimate and personal. Even if you have to get on a plane – make a weekend of it – see and feel the work in the flesh, Buying online without doing this is a risk. If you take that risk, know you are taking it
  9. The really scary part for me is telling other people what I bought. I felt shame. Shame about spending money. I journaled. I explored why I had such self-doubt. In life, we are all blinded by our fears, insecurities and anxieties, and we need to put these stupid stories to one side, as at one moment in time I took the decision to buy that work … and I know I will never regret that decision. Self-doubt is a waste of energy. 
  10. Framing is important. Is the frame and glass chosen by the artist? If so, consider buying the print with the frame. If you are going to frame it yourself, ask the artist how they would do it. Life is all about asking questions, learning and then taking a decision.

Buying a print is about realising your dreams, opening your world and undertaking a voyage of self-discovery.

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