How to Buy Contemporary Art

by Christie Cluett 27. April 2015 10:52

Original Oil on Canvas, Buttercup by Patricia L. Wright

So, what is contemporary art? In the art world, there are a number of different definitions. For instance, some define it as art that is created during our lifetime. Others classify it as art from when the period of Modern art ended in the 1970s to the present day.

Perhaps the easiest way to define contemporary art though, is as work produced by artists living and working today. But with so many working artists selling pieces across every style imaginable, how do you know where to start looking for that perfect artwork?

Grab a cuppa, sit back, and pick up some valuable tips with this bite-sized guide on how to buy contemporary art that is right for you.

Open your mind

Above: Bunnies at Bedtime, an original painting available to buy from by Andrew Alan Johnson

The only way to find out what contemporary art is right for you is to open yourself up to the possibilities of what you might like. Look at websites such as Art Rabbit , which allows you to search for contemporary art exhibitions and chat with working artists to find out if the motivations that drive their work resonate with you. In addition, you could join a contemporary art society, which will help you to discover the art you love and like-minded people to talk to about your experiences.

Haven’t got the time to visit exhibitions or join an art society? Then flick through magazines and books, or browse online galleries – digital mediums have made it easier than ever to discover the art you love from the comfort of your own home. 

Buying contemporary art online

In many ways, buying contemporary art online is a more democratic process. Websites can exhibit the work of hundreds of artists, and you can compare a huge number of artworks and prices more easily. Then, after you have had time to think about what you like, you can come back and make a better informed purchasing decision. Plus, if you join, you can use the ‘Wishlist’ feature to save artworks you like, making this process even easier.   

What’s more, because artists don’t have to pay as much for exhibiting their work online, many can afford to sell their work for cheaper prices. This ensures you can grab a bargain, without having to adhere to the set opening and closing times of a physical exhibition.

Finding the money to buy contemporary art

Above: Blood Money, a limited edition (75) contemporary art print available to buy from Print by Garvin Vaughan

Let’s get straight to the point, some contemporary art can be very expensive. However, that doesn’t mean you have to become ‘priced out’ of purchasing an art work you’ve fallen in love with. If you can’t afford the artwork you want in one go,’s ‘Own Art’ scheme allows you to spread the cost of buying artworks over 10 months with an interest free loan. For more information about our Own Art scheme, please click here.

If you don’t like the idea of taking out a loan to start a contemporary art collection, you can still grab a bargain with a keen eye. If you are constrained by a tight budget, look for early-career artists you like. Don’t wait – when the popularity of these artists increases, so will their prices.

Above: 'Under Red Umbrella', an oil on canvas available to buy from Painting by Eva Czarniecka

Buying limited edition contemporary art prints

If you aren’t able to afford an original artwork, or you want to enjoy the work of a well known artist, you may want to consider buying a limited edition piece. Do ensure you keep the receipt and obtain a certificate of authenticity. These documents will help prove your print is limited edition and will be used in the future to value your artwork.

Buying contemporary art for the home or the office 

If you are looking to buy contemporary art as an investment, you may wish to re-think your strategy. Of course, there is the possibility of securing a big financial win in the future if you buy the right piece. However, with so many contemporary artists working today, the odds are slim, and the investment game is best left to the experts, not the relative art novices.  

For this reason, if you are buying contemporary art for your home or office, buy what you love, not what you think might be worth a fortune in a few years’ time.  Ask yourself: will I still like this artwork in a few years from now? Or will this painting match my home or office’s colour scheme?

If you need a little help visualising the answers to these questions, includes a ‘test drive’ feature on the left-hand side of every product page. This feature allows you to place the painting in a traditional or contemporary virtual office or living room and change the colour of the walls to match your own. 

Above: Mr O Hare, an animal portrait print available to buy from Limited Edition (50) Print by Bri Buckley

The huge number of contemporary artists working today ensures there is an abundance of choice for the novice art collector. To find something you like, all you have to do is get out there and look. Furthermore, the fact you can spread the payment of some paintings over 10 months means that even the most expensive pieces can become that little bit more affordable.

Do you now feel ready to buy a contemporary art print? It doesn't matter what your budget is, will have the perfect artwork for you. Simply visit our homepage, and use the search tool on the right to find a contemporary art piece that matches your taste. 


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