Here are some basic tips;
1. Avoid buying Art as an Investment
It important to buy art because it gives you pleasure every day, that you enjoy looking it on your wall not because you see pounds signs. The art market fluctuates like everything else. 99% of art never goes up in value. Most pictures decline 50% in value the minute you walk out of the gallery. Dealers/galleries typically take 40-50%. If it happens to increase in value then its just the added bonus to having a piece of artwork that you love!
4. - Look for Value not Investment Potential
It is easy to spend lots of money on junk. The best way to avoid being ripped off is to go through the learning process. If you're spending under £1000 for an original work, don't worry. Use these numbers as general guidelines for buying artwork, and remember buy anything that pleases you and is cheap. Remember, artists have to make money too. A typical artist who makes paints one painting a week and sells it directly for £250 each, makes £12,000 a year. Furthermore, she probably has an expensive Masters of Fine Arts degree, plus the costs of canvases, paints, promotion, and other supplies. The artist has to make enough to live, and at the same time, find time to paint. It's a hard life for an artist!
2. Market Research
Learning about art takes time and effort just like learning about anything else.
Look at art constantly and develop your eye, so that you learn what you like and why. The more you look, the more you'll come to understand the difference between what is good and what is not. This might not change the kind of art you like, but will help you distinguish between the good (of what you like) from the bad.
Acknowledge that just because its a realistic painting that looks like a photograph, doesn't mean its good art! Anyone can learn to paint if they put in the hours. The more you look the more you become aware of the cliche of using thrilling technique as the basis for artistic merit. An image must resonate beyond technique. There are also hundreds of competent artists who are good illustrators. The work is fine, butyou cannot tell one from another and there is no true originality or unique way of viewing the world. Furthermore, this competent illustrative art becomes more obvious as a cliche the more you see it.
3. Trust your Own Taste
There are many kinds of good art with different stlyes and subject matter from photo realism landscape, impressionism to a coloourful abstract. No matter what kind of art really grabs you, do not be afraid to mix different things in one space. In the end your general taste will connect them all.
5. Buy from Reputable Dealers or directly from the Artist
When you are purchasing art, for more than £500 for an original work, it is a good idea to work buy directly from the artist where possible. The artists price will be the cheapest option of buying the work. Buying from a dealer will add anywhere between 40 - 60% on top of what the artist s asking for.
If you can't go through the artist find a reputable dealer ;
Avoid the "Limited Edition Print" and any dealer who sells them. They are nothing but overpriced, signed posters.
Avoid the dealer who talks investment and offers a "Certificate of Authenticity". Certificates of authenticity are usually phony. They lead you to believe that you have an original piece of work when in reality you may not.
Avoid galleries located in shopping malls, tourist areas, and airports. For some unknown reason the average person only thinks about buying art on vacation. Although I'm sure there are exceptions, many galleries take advantage of that.
Avoid buying art from the framer in your local shopping centre.