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Buying guide

Guide to buying art

This guide will take you through deciding what sort of art is right for you, how to set a budget and how to purchase, and establishing a collection

Why buy art?

  • Pleasure
  • Create stylish environments
  • Investment

Artfuly is built for art-lovers who know what they want. 

We have created a site that allows you to make selections on style, size, price and colour very quickly, so that you can find the perfect work for that space you have in mind.  We have filled the site with quality artworks, and YOU become the curator: create your own virtual collection by using the ‘add to wishlist’ feature, and to visualise the artworks in a virtual room, you can use the ‘see it in a room’ feature.

Art for pleasure

It's a good idea to buy the best you can afford. Tastes may change over time, but a carefully chosen piece of art will provide years of pleasure. The right accent for a room or to complement furniture may  be a catalyst for purchasing art, and why have a poster when you can have original art?

Create stylish environments

Interior design is so much fun!  We love the TV program ‘The Block’ and so if you enjoy creating beautiful rooms, art is often the centrepiece of the room.


Buying art for investment purposes is a tricky business and values can depend on fashion, rarity, condition, provenance and other factors.

There is nothing to stop works bought for pleasure still increasing in value while you enjoy them in the home or office but if you are looking to make quick money, buying and selling art is not the way. If you buy something you enjoy living with, then market fluctuations won't matter. Start by deciding what art you like most. 

Familiarize yourself with art styles

Being able to “talk the talk” can help when it comes to the amount of time and depth of information that others are happy to share with you, and may help to avoid you being targeted as clueless. Additionally, having a few basic terms at your disposal will let you describe more accurately what you are interested in and help in Internet searches. When you find art and artists that you are interested in, you may want to jot down them down in the various categories that follow for ease of future reference. So, let’s have a quick overview. There are three broad categories of art:


This is just another term for a realistic work (as opposed to a work featuring a figure which is variously known as a nude, life painting or figure painting, a life drawing or figure drawing, or if they are clothed, a costume painting, costume drawing or portrait if a personality is the center of focus.) The term genre painting is also occasionally used to describe works of people going about their daily life. Below is a basic list of some other sub-categories.


• Photorealism - super realism – hyper realism

Where the work resembles a photograph.

• Impressionism

Reality as seen through a positive emotional lens, where the artist seeks to convey an immediate impression of something of the scene before him.

• Expressionism

These works describe a personal emotional state and tend to be strident and angst ridden but still rely on elements that are recognizably realistic for additional narrative power.

• Primitive or Naïve

Where the work looks like the artist is trying to be realistic but it has a child-like or untutored quality.

• Still Life

Depictions of inanimate objects.

• Land Sea City And Cloudscapes

Depictions of yes, you guessed it, land, sea, cities or clouds.

• Pop art

These works use motifs found in popular and commercial culture, often presenting them in a way that challenges our perception and acceptance of these everyday goods and services, as well as everyday lives. 


You can safely use this term for anything in between realism and abstraction including calligraphy where it can be argued that written language is a nonrepresentational means of communication as is any art based on it.


• Surrealism

These works often look like snap-shots from a dream using symbolism and distorted reality.

• Indigenous art

Most indigenous art relies on a well developed system of symbols and techniques imbued with their own meaning. Even representations of everyday objects tend to have a culturally stylistic overlay, removing them from realism, and establishing them firmly as semi-abstraction.

• Street art

Similar to indigenous art, street art also has a well developed system of symbols and culturally significant techniques. The use of cartoons, stylized figures, and designs based on letter forms are all clear, but recognizable, abstractions.

• Symbolism

These works use cultural meanings and messages associated with various symbols to convey a deeper meaning, and as such, go beyond straight representation, and may often look a little surreal.


These are works which may have no relationship to reality at all, or present a visually codified version of individual reality that’s not dependent on recognizable objects.


• Geometric abstraction

These works feature patterns and shapes often of a regular geometric nature.

• Abstract expressionism

These works use color and shape to describe a personal emotional state rather than relying on the messages already inherent in recognizable objects.

• Colourfield

These works are pure abstraction relying on colour and texture for their impact.

What sort of artist?

The main points to assess for artists you are interested in

• Exhibitions

Where they have shown, how many shows, and what sort (Consider the importance of the venue)

• Publications

Articles, books and catalogues of their work (Consider the importance of the publication)

• Collections

Public, corporate and private collections they are represented in

(Consider the importance of the collection)

• Sales history

Including awards, grants and recognitions


A few more points you should also consider

• Qualifications

Where they studied, when and with whom, and art societies and related organizations they belong to.

• Positions they hold or have held

Teacher, lecturer, director, and so on.

• Celebrity status

Entertainers, criminals, sportspeople, etc, may be collectable simply because of their status or notoriety. Be careful: extrinsic value of this sort tends to fade with their celebrity.

• Age details

Are they living or dead? What stage of career were they in when the work was produced (Familiarize yourself with any recognized period or style.)

Your collection…

With a long term approach, a piece at a time, you can achieve a very pleasing collection. If you have decided that you're serious about building a long-term collection, then calculate how much you can afford each year and put that amount aside. (You can reassess this as your circumstances change.) Even if you don't buy expensive pieces, one purchase a year over 20 years or more, will result in you having a very pleasing collection. Setting aside an amount that you know you can comfortably afford, say $500, means that if you come across a piece you really fall in love with within that budget, you're then in a position to make decisions with out seeking anyone's advice or opinion. You can buy it on the spot, knowing you'll enjoy it for years to come regardless of whether you ever get the $500 back or not. However, if $1,000 is a large investment for you, then do seek advice and think carefully before buying. A constant reminder hanging on the wall of a mistake you've made is not what you're after. Once you've set your budget, now is the time to consider whether to buy a major piece, or several smaller pieces.

What is your budget?

If you have a fixed budget or even if you don't, you may like to consider the following:

• Keeping a record of prices of the sort of art you like

• Asking someone you trust for a price assessment or paying for independent advice

• And don’t forget insurance costs