Buying Art Etiquette: A Pro Guide For Buyers

The art community has some specific protocols and unofficial SOPs associated with it. It’s usually a group of upper-class individuals, especially the buyers.

The artists can be unorthodox in their methods and way of life, which paves the way for creativity in their artwork. The buyers, however, are usually people who are sophisticated and value art.

From the perspective of the buyer, here are some rules and buying art etiquette.

Research Is Key

No matter what field it may be, research will always be a key element. In a broader sense, this research will help you make informed decisions. Research enables us to know about the different trends in the art community as well as the front runners in the art genre we’re interested in.

research on buying art etiuette

The research starts with browsing the art theme or genre you’re looking for and jotting down all the artists that fall under that umbrella. Then, by looking at all their artwork online, you can easily specify the pieces they’re interested in. After these steps, going to the gallery or seeing the artwork in person comes into play.

Visiting Art Galleries Is Beneficial

As mentioned above, after doing the research, visiting and seeing the art pieces live is of vital importance. This is essential for many reasons, one of which is that the buyer can get to meet the artist and learn about their thought processes and background.

Visiting Art Galleries Is Beneficial

Visiting art galleries also enables us to build a network of contacts with like-minded people. This gets us up to speed on the trending bits and pieces and educates us about the field. Being a regular at these galleries and having contacts can also make you an esteemed member and make you eligible for different perks and discounts.

An Example Of A Hybrid Art Gallery

An example is the Miguel Camarena Art Gallery in Cave Creek, Arizona, which operates both as an online and a physically present art gallery. Miguel Camarena has a wide portfolio that depicts the diverse natural American and Spanish cultures.

His artworks consist of plants, animals, and different kinds of landscapes that are exhibited on the website, along with their prices. Established artists, galleries, and art businesses are always well organized and offer an easy buying route for their customers.

Art from an art gallery in Arizona

Visit Miguel Camarena’s Full Collection

Ask Questions

Confucius said, 'The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute; the man who does not ask is a fool for life.' If you’re a genuine buyer, you should ask as many questions as you need clarification on. The gallery, the art dealer, or even the artist should address and answer all of these questions.

Two people are asking question in an art gallery

While asking questions is important, it is also important to be polite and considerate of everyone’s time. The buyer should be curious, ask a lot of questions regarding the process, and then make the final decision. If a term is being spoken of that you don’t understand, you should have the agent explain it.

Transportation And Handling Of The Artwork

Artworks are delicate and should be handled with due care. The buyer should inquire about the whole process, the last of which is transportation. How will that artwork get to their home? While it may seem tedious, inquiring about the small details is important.

Things like how the artwork will be handled, which means of transport will be used, and how the artwork will be wrapped so that it doesn’t come into contact with anything that could be tampered with or damaged are all valid questions that should be asked.

Insurance Should Be Considered

Art Insurance is usually considered a must-have in the case of more expensive art pieces. Insurance would protect the art and provide coverage in case any damages occur.

This might not be needed at all in many cases, but the past has told us that in the one-in-a-million cases where it occurs, it’s of vital importance to get yourself saved from the loss.

Ensure Authenticity And Documentation

In today’s digital age, a lot of prints on canvases have come into the equation that can duplicate and portray the same artwork in a manner that looks absolutely real. Hence, verifying the authenticity of the artwork is vital.

Authenticity And Documentation - Buying art etiquette

This can be done if we have a diverse art network and are well-informed and educated about the industry. Direct contact with the artist also comes in handy.

Buy Art You Love

Last but not least, when it comes to buying artwork, you should always buy in the genre and blend you like the most. If the artwork doesn’t connect with them, it should not be bought, even if it’s a hit and well-recognized in the industry. It is also important not to only go toward the more famous artists.

The radar should be broad, and even the up-and-comers should be accommodated in their buying journey. The art piece will eventually be placed in a space where you will look at it often. Therefore, it should be something that you adore and like a lot.

In A Nutshell

The buying routine starts with research, both digital and in-person. The curiosity of the buyer is a key element, and you should ask as many questions as you feel necessary. The sale should happen through a proper channel, and the ethical element must be considered.

Afterward, the buyer and the seller should both be on the same page regarding the transportation of the artwork and the paperwork associated with it. Insurance comes into play if the buyer feels the need for it.


What’s the most important thing to look for when buying art?

Originality is something that’s considered absolutely vital in the art industry. Most rookie designers, in order to jump-start their careers, copy the more renowned artists. However, they eventually progress and find their mojo. It is, hence, important to classify and look for originality while buying artwork. 

Should one tip when buying art?

This completely depends on the buyer. There’s no such obligation that makes it a must in an art transaction. It’s more a question of will and trying to help a new artist and make them feel motivated. You can give an artist a tip in addition to the standard payment if you find their artwork impressive.

What is etiquette in art?

There are no set criteria, but it is more a matter of common sense. Some etiquette includes keeping judgments to yourself and being transparent and curious.

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