Original Fine Art – Buying Art From An Artist

Buying art directly from artists can be a truly enjoyable experience. With that personal interaction, you can develop a much deeper connection with the work.

buying art

So you’re looking to start or expand your personal art collection, and you want to buy original art right from the source: the artist. But where do you find artists? How can you make sure you’re getting a good deal?

Buying art directly from artists can be a truly enjoyable experience. With that personal interaction, you can get a fuller idea of an artwork and develop a deeper connection with it. It may be a little intimidating to speak with the artist about their work, but artists are typically very friendly, and that simple interaction may make all the difference in your art ­buying experience.

Sicilian artist, Toto with her works
Sicilian artist, Toto with her works

Buying art is a major investment, as art doesn’t usually come cheap. Before you dig into your wallet, you should know what types of artists there are, and what different artwork is worth.

Useful Article: A Collector’s Guide to Different Artist Types

How And Where To Find Artists?

While a gallery is a great place to discover a variety of artworks and styles, there are certain advantages to dealing directly with the artist. One great advantage to buying artwork directly from an artist is that you can have access to their entire oeuvre, from much older works to pieces that haven’t even been completed yet.

buying art from the artist
Turkish sculptor Şebnem Keçeli working in her studio.

You can typically find artists at craft or art fairs, or in their own personal stores/studios. You can also discover some great artists online, but if you don’t know what you’re looking for, finding the right artist via online searches can be like finding a needle in a world­wide ­haystack that has been piling up slowly over several decades.

The next time you are interested in buying art from the original source, look for:

Artist Co­-ops

Artist co-ops are a special type of gallery run by the exhibiting artists themselves. These styles of galleries are more common in smaller cities and towns. The reputation, sales, and promotion of shows in these galleries can all range depending on the work that the artists put in. However, there is a definite chance that you will come across some brilliant works by aspiring and ambitious creative professionals. One of the advantages of looking for artists in co-ops is that you will almost always find them at the gallery space.

You can simply do an online search to find artist co-­ops in your local area. Looking out for events at these galleries being publicized across social media would also be a great place to start.

Open Studios

Open studios are special events in which artists open the doors to their personal work spaces to show off what they’re currently working on and recently finished pieces. Often,  in order to encourage a larger audience, a group of artists will hold open studios on the same day. Sometimes, these are organized by large instituitions but mostly they are low key affairs and taking advantage of your existing artist contacts can be really helpful with these.

Because they’re time-­sensitive, it’s not so easy to find these events from a web search. You may be able to find information about open studios on event bulletins, like at community centers and gathering places like churches, cafes, or the library. You can also discover nearby events by browsing the “Events” tab in Facebook.

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Art and Craft Shows

buying art
Visitors at Agora Gallery viewing the works

Events like art and craft shows are organized mainly to bring together big and small galleries within a single space and promote sales. These shows can be great opportunities to browse, discover and meet many artists at a time. The artwork quality will vary, and often won’t be cohesive in style or theme, but many people find this an advantage of these larger events. They are certainly a great opportunity to discover all sorts of new things you might not otherwise get exposed to.

Although these events are usually grand affairs, if you are on a budget, it is good to look out for the appropriate shows. Affordable Art Fair for example focuses on artworks in a certain range which makes them accessible to all.

You can find out about local art shows or craft shows by looking in the local newspaper, searching online, or even checking out tourist resources for your area. These shows are often annual events, so keep track of the shows you find for future reference.

Local Colleges/Universities

If you are interested in looking for emerging artists, local art schools are a great place to start. Colleges and universities often hold exhibitions of their students’ work, and the price points for these artworks are comparatively very low. Of course, in this context, the quality of the work may highly vary, but if you find a work you like, the investment could certainly pay off in more ways than one.

Events like graduation shows and school art fairs are usually publicized on the college/university websites and are open to all. You can also find out about them in news papers or online.


buying art
Artworks on sale on Agora’s online gallery, ARTmine

Many artists have personal websites, allowing you to discover not only local artists, but artists from across the world, without ever getting up from your computer. Unfortunately, there are several disadvantages to shopping for art online. For one, it can be very difficult to figure out exactly what it is you’re getting, as the color, size, material, and general ‘feel’ of a piece is often lost in translation when represented digitally. You also risk greater chance of damaging artwork when shipping from unknown sellers. For this reason, you should only purchase artwork online from a trusted seller with a known reputation.

Tips On Buying Art Directly From The Artist

Buying art from an artist can be much more casual (and, often, complicated) than buying artwork from a gallery or at an auction. Each artist may handle the transaction differently, and may include different things in the sale. To make the process simpler and ensure that you aren’t missing out on anything important, you should enter the situation with a few key things in mind:

1. You don’t need to buy the art right away. Typically when purchasing art, you have the luxury of time. Take a photo, bring it home, take measurements of the space where the work would go. It is rare that you would have to buy the artwork right then and there. There are some exceptions to this rule. If you are at a temporary event, like an art fair or an auction, or if you know that there is somebody else also considering purchasing this piece, you may need to expedite your decision ­making process. That’s why it’s a great idea to get the contact information from the artist and find out how long this work will be available.

Useful Article: Why buy Original Art?

buying art
Gallery guest snapping a picture of Walter Rossi‘s work

2. Always get the facts. Whether you’re purchasing the artwork on the spot, or taking time to think about it, there is vital information you should get from the artist.

  1. Name
  2. Website
  3. Contact Information
  4. Price Information

Obviously, the course of the conversation will naturally allow you to discover certain other important elements ­ like their motivation, the stories behind their artwork, and their artistic history. All of these will help you form a deeper emotional connection to the piece in question. However, if you do not receive the artist’s personal information, it may all be for nothing, as you may miss out on the opportunity to buy their work.

3. Artists are often willing to negotiate. If you see a work that is above your budget, be sure to inquire about the possibility of a discount. Tell the artist what about the work speaks to you, why you want it, and where you’ll hang it. For artists, knowing that their work is going to be appreciated can make all the difference.

4. Obtain a signature and documentation. Even if you are not planning on selling the work later on, it is important that you make sure the artwork is signed and that you have the appropriate documentation. You should have a proof of purchase and a certificate of authenticity. Make sure that these have the artist’s signature, date, and the amount of money that you purchased the work for. This will be valuable in the future, whether you end up re­selling the work or if you want to buy insurance for it.

buying art
Bishop Madai Taylor discusses his work with visitors

5. Inquire about materials and care tips. Some works, especially sculpture and mixed media, need special care instructions. Even for common media like paintings or photography, the artist may have some special instructions for the works. By taking the extra measure and asking early, you may end up extending the life of the artwork.

6. Stay connected. There are many advantages to staying connected with an artist after the purchase. For one, they may come out with more works in the future that will be of interest to you. Having multiple pieces by the same artist can unify a space and give it a great voice.

Additionally, when you stay in contact, you’ll be the first to know if this artist begins to receive international success. There are several ways to stay connected with an artist these days. Follow them on social media. Set up a Google Alert for their name. Some artists will have a newsletter that you can subscribe to—just ask, or you’ll never know!

Once you buy your artwork…

Enjoy it! Store the sales documentation somewhere safe, hang the work somewhere it will be appreciated, and relax.

Need some specific advice regarding your art collection or help in starting afresh? Benefit from our curatorial services! To know more, contact us at sales@agora-gallery.com

Tell us your stories! How did you find that one work of art that you really connected with? How was the experience dealing directly with the artist?


  • It’s interesting to read about what this article has to say about finding artists. It makes sense that art fairs and shows could be a great place to look, while online could be good if you only have a few minutes. It’s something to keep in mind when looking to buy some more art as I think it could be more meaningful to be able to talk to an artist directly to see what he or she thinks of the piece.

  • Another reason to take your time is so that you have more of an opportunity to consider all of your art options. Even after you find an artist with a style you are interested in, it is good to see as much of their work as you can. Then, when you go home to take measurements you will have more options to choose from and can pick the one that works best for you.

  • Should a work of art have to be explained? Or should it explains itself?

  • My wife and I have been thinking about buying some photography pieces for our house, but weren’t sure how to buy them. I really like that you say to make sure that the art is signed, and you have the documentation. It would be nice later on if something goes wrong.

  • I like that you point out that one of the most important things to get when buying art from an artist is their contact information. I can see why it would be smart to ask for a business card or other informative thing to help you contact them if you are interested in it. My wife and I have been looking into buying a couple paintings to add to our living room. I’ll have to keep this in mind as I am going to art galleries.

    • Dear Scott,

      We are glad we could help! 🙂

      Good luck with your artwork hunt!

  • There really is a lot that you have to be careful about when buying art nowadays. I particularly like that you bring up how important it is to get a signature and proper documentation. That way you can make sure that you are getting a legitimate piece from the original artist.

  • I like that you mentioned using the internet to find art events in your area. This is a great way to get some exposure. My family has got a few pieces they have seen at art shows.

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