Sunday 22 September 2019

The art of art buying

Artist Chris Quinlan
Artist Chris Quinlan

Building an art collection is more than just filling your walls with things to look at. Art can be a powerful force for change- it evokes emotion, memory and, at the very least, makes for a good conversation starter at dinner parties.

A prevailing misconception is that art buying is expensive and daunting. It can be seen as a huge investment and a somewhat stressful purchase. It’s also a deeply personal decision- one man’s masterpiece is another man’s scribble, and all that. The truth is, buying art is a fulfilling, exciting experience that doesn’t have to be costly. To help you on your journey, artist Vincent Devine offers some insider tips when it comes to buying a brilliant piece of art.

Start Early

If you are building a new home or planning a renovation, begin looking at art while the building is in progress.  I find this helps clients have an idea where they want the art to go and can also inform certain decisions in the design process.  If art is a secondary decision and you prefer to leave it until the end to find that perfect piece, then commissioning a work may be the way to go if you’re struggling to find the perfect piece.  Just find an artists’ style that you like and collaborate with them to create that perfect bespoke piece for your home.

David Coyne Climbers.jpg
Artist David Coyne

Where to Buy

If you know and like the artists style, a gallery is a safe bet as they will usually stock a good range of work from a represented artist and can provide a third person narrative to inform you about the work and the artist. Art fairs are a great way to meet the artist directly, especially if you want to commission a bespoke piece or need more information on the technical answers to certain design issues or concerns you may have.


Firstly, decide whether you want to purchase a print or an original.  Originals are usually the way to go if you’re looking for value.  Prints wouldn't have the longevity of originals but will last well after 100 years. If you're looking to potentially sell work on or pass it down to another generation, then stick to originals.  A good entry level budget for original work is €400-€600, that should secure a fairly sizeable piece or several smaller pieces that could be spread out to occupy a space.

A wishlist budget, in my opinion, would be the €2,000 mark. That should give you plenty of options, be it several medium pieces for different rooms or a larger statement piece. 

Artist Orla Walsh


Be careful where you hang your art. The main problem I hear is people putting watercolours in direct sunlight.  Trust the artist, they can throw fresh eyes on a project and guide on a colour suit for the space.  Usually, if the artist has been practising professionally for many years they will have built up some pretty good experience in helping to guide clients.

Also, be realistic about the sizes the space can take – if you hang a too small piece in a large space, it will be lost.

Who’s Hot

Keep an eye out for artists doing something new or offering something different. Try to source original artists that you love and there’ll be plenty to see at house, Ireland’s leading interiors event at the RDS on May 25th – 28th.

At Art Loft @ house 2018, the highest calibre of Irish artists will be on site showcasing their stunning work - from Pop Art Tayto packets to striking coastal colours to awe inspiring animals and stunning sculptures. Come along and meet Vincent and the many other artists displaying their work – all the artists will be selling their work on site so if you really want to buy something special, it’s the perfect time to purchase.

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