How To Buy Art While Traveling

Oct 23, 2013

Sometimes the most beloved work of art is one that captures the spirit of a destination. Whether you’re searching for an eye-catching sculpture, a conversation-starting painting or a genuine modern masterpiece, destinations with a thriving gallery scene should have something to fit your taste profile.

Aspen, Colorado and California’s Napa Valley spring to mind. Boasting surreal natural beauty and vibrant arts communities, each has much to offer art lovers and collectors. But finding the perfect piece during your travels is not always easy – here’s how to avoid common pitfalls.

Know what you want. While finding the piece you’re looking for requires a bit of luck, having clear parameters at the outset of your search will help you stay focused and increase your chances of success. Get clear on your aesthetic vision for your home – or wherever the art is going to go. Know the space you’re working with, and know what you’d like to spend.

Acquaint yourself with the breadth and depth of the gallery scene. While your intention may be to buy, resist making an uninformed or impulsive decision in the first gallery you visit on day 1 of your trip! Do research beforehand, then take care to visit the galleries and specific pieces that sparked your interest.

Consult an impartial expert. When serious money is involved, consider looping in a professional appraiser or fellow collectors who can help you assess a piece from high-resolution photos, which established galleries can provide.

Get a fair price. Pricing is based on a gallery’s overhead costs, including rent and sales commissions. Inquire about galleries’ pricing methods. To judge whether the asking prices is reasonable, research prices for other works by the same artists from the same period. At a gallery of good standing, it’s still sometimes possible to negotiate a discount of up to fifteen percent.

Plan vacations to coincide with prominent art fairs and festivals. These events usually attract a more eclectic range of artists, including up-and-coming talents and antique dealers.

There’s a good chance you’ll find your next favorite piece at the intersection of preparation and inspiration…best of luck!