First Time Buying Original Art? 10 Tips!

First Time Buying Original Art?

Ten tips on how to shop for art online

By Brandy Saturley

You have a beautiful space and a bare wall and you have never purchased original art before. You have been staring at this space for weeks, months or even years.  You have had guests over and they have suggested you hang some art on the wall so you have looked at inexpensive options to ‘decorate’ your wall. You may have even bought a cheap print from a department store, but something just doesn’t feel right. You have created a beautiful space, and the wall needs equally special attention. How or where do you start?

Original Art - Online

This is an exciting predicament to be in and with the accessibility of good quality original art available online today, you can shop from the comfort of your own home while you enjoy a cup of coffee or that evening glass of wine. Buying a one-of-a-kind handcrafted piece of art is an exhilarating experience, it’s like going on a treasure hunt and the treasure will hang in your home for you, your family and your guests to enjoy for years to come. An original piece of art can provide inspiration, escape and beauty and encourage conversation.

Original art is an investment that you can enjoy, visually. You are the owner of an original artwork, the only one of its kind. You are investing in our heritage and your investment insures this heritage will continue to live on, evolve and inspire the next generation. The value of an original piece of Canadian art continues to grow, the value of a print in today’s digital world, is less likely to increase in value – where the signature of the artist on the print becomes more valuable than the print.

Ten Tips

So where and how do you begin to get your feet wet as a new art collector?

We have put together ten tips that can help guide you through the process of shopping for, and selecting your first piece of original art online.

1) Create your own art collector profile

Keep a physical list or an image list of art that you are attracted to and save it to your computer. With this list note the following things;

  • What colours am I drawn to? Warm or cool tones.
  • Are you drawn to landscapes, portraits, abstracts, or paintings of things? (still life)
  • Do you like realistic images or do you prefer images that are obscured or abstracted?

2) Set a budget

Original art can be found at many price points; good original art from emerging to mid-career artists tends to be found in a price range from $1000 to $10,000. Set a budget and expect to stay within $200 of your budgeted price.

3) Space


Where is this art purchase going to hang? You need to measure your space and decide what will look best in the space, take into account orientation (landscape or portrait format).An easy way to visualize what size painting would look best on your wall is decide where you want the painting and tape out an area with green painter’s tape where you want the painting to hang. This will give you a visual idea of what size could work in your space. Measure the taped area - this is your ideal size; however your budget may dictate some downsizing!

4) Start shopping online

Start looking at online art galleries. Online galleries offer the ability to search by size, price and even colour. Begin looking at art within your collector profile (taste) budget and size requirements. Do not be afraid to go a bit outside your requirements, nothing is set in stone, the requirements that you have built give you a rough guideline for art shopping.

5) Buy what you love

There are many considerations when it comes to buying a quality piece of art in your budget, but keep in mind if you buy something that truly speaks to you, you can never go wrong. Original art will last for a lifetime and hopefully will be passed down to someone who loves it as much as you. Your art choice is an extension of your personality and a way to express your creativity and individuality. Something to be cherished by all who know and love you even long after you are gone.

6) Be safe

There is no need to feel anxious when shopping online for art. Here are some tips on selecting a reputable online gallery;

  • Purchase policy: what forms of payment are accepted and do they take returns? E-Transfer and services such as PayPal, Shopify, and Square offer secure payment options. Art financing companies and brokers also offer safety and security on both ends of the transaction
  • Testimonials: do they have testimonials from buyers on the site? Google reviews, customer feedback? If not a quick Google search is an extra measure in making sure the business is legit and safe to purchase from. If in doubt, pick up the phone and call the seller, often hearing a human voice can help
  • How long have they been in business? Are they an established seller?
  • Do they include a certificate of authenticity with purchase?

7) Keep records

Original art is an investment, and with that investment it is important to keep records. Any piece or quality original art should come with a certificate of authenticity, often signed by the artist. This should include value of the work and date or purchase. As original art is a long-term investment that will increase in value, unlike an automobile, it is important to keep records for insurance and future owners of the art.

8) Tax incentives for your business

Why not invest in original art for your office? Not only is hanging original art in your place of business uplifting, it provides enjoyment and a conversation starter. The Canadian government recognizes the importance of encouraging the purchase of original Canadian art. Investing in the Canadian art market and its creators offers many benefits to Canadian businesses large and small. The Canadian Government has implemented tax incentives intended to promote the purchase of Canadian artwork and encourage donations to museums and public institutions. The purchase price of Canadian artwork, paintings, etchings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, etc. is considered an amortization expense for corporations or individuals who operate a business. It qualifies as a tax deduction provided that certain criteria are met. The Canadian tax law allows business owners to purchase and write-off Original Canadian Art in its entirety.  The acquisition of Original Canadian Art is included in the Capital Cost Allowance for all Canadian businesses, so long as the Artist was a Canadian Citizen when creating the work and the work of art is an original worth a minimum of $200.

9) Financing your purchase

So, you have found a piece of art you love, but it’s a bit out of your immediate price range? Why not think about financing your purchase? Hang the art on your wall now and pay on a timeline that suits your budget. There are many options for financing, check with your gallery.

10) Develop a relationship with your online gallery

There are many options out there when it comes to buying art online, once you find an online gallery you like, stick with them. A good gallery will offer new artwork regularly and keep track of your collector profile, meaning when they bring in new works they will often be artworks you will enjoy.


Most of all enjoy yourself, have fun getting to know the art that is out there in the world. There is so much to choose from, at every price point, and once you start collecting original, one-of-a-kind pieces, you will never look at a print in the same way again.

Happy collecting!


Author - Brandy Saturley

Brandy Saturley paints Canadian Contemporary Realism inspired by Canadian culture and sport and has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions at art fairs, in public and private art galleries, and in unique corporate venues across Canada.

Ms. Saturley has a number of unique pieces listed with Creative Collection.

  • September 11, 2017
  • Brandy Saturley

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