Why buy art from dealers on eBay?

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Some tips to consider when buying art from an eBay dealer

1. Preparation

Preparation is key to anything and shopping for art on eBay is no exception. If you have a space in mind, have a think about what the sizes of paintings and take a note of any practicalities such as size or lighting levels. But don’t buy something just to match your colour scheme – hopefully your art will have a longer shelf life than your soft furnishings.

2. Budget

Have a budget in mind but be prepared to blow it if you see a piece that you just can’t live without. If you really can't afford to fork out the full amount for the piece, ask the dealer if they will keep the work for you until you can afford to pay.  If you’re just starting out buying art and your pockets are not too deep, consider original prints, such as screenprints and etchings, which are a great entry-level option.

3. Look

Take your time to look around, making notes on who is selling what and pieces that you like, and the essentials, including artist, size and price. There’s massive range of styles and mediums.

4. Ask

Looking at and buying art should be an enjoyable experience, not an intimidating one where you’re worried about getting it wrong. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, art dealers are only too keen to talk about their artists’ work.

5. Catch a rising star

There is no way of guaranteeing which artists will become collectable, but established, well known names are a safer bet than spotting a rising star.   Saying this, contemporary art is a ballooning market and there's a couple of trusted dealers who give a platform to emerging artists. Look for those who have been to recognised art schools.

6. Follow your heart

First and foremost, choose something that you love, not something you think you should buy. Art is a reflection of you and your personality, so follow your heart rather than pondering on the possible financial return.

7. Buyer's Premiums

The big auction houses such as Bonhams, Christie's, Phillips and Sotheby's and some small provincial auction houses work to buyer's premiums of 25% up to £50,000 plus VAT, plus packaging charges if you are unable to collect in person.  Some commercial galleries charge an artist levy (typically 5%) on top of the base asking price.

Buying from an eBay dealer doesn't involve paying multiple fees. If the seller is registered as a business they will accept a return of a painting or drawing if you feel the item doesn't match their description. You can't do this at an auction. 

8. Experience

Look for dealers selling multiple paintings or pictures as they are more likely to know about their stock and individual artists. Do you have a particular artist in mind? If so ask a seller's advice, see if they know of any single collections that are fresh to the market.

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