Most everyone would call themselves an art lover on some level, but when it comes to purchasing art, others are a little more tentative. What makes a great piece of art? Most gallerists and artists would say when deciding on a piece of art, buy what you absolutely love, the piece that speaks to you on some level.

Yes, there are collectors who buy art strictly for its investment potential. Their acquisitions may never see the light of day again until the owner wants to resell the piece. A great deal of fine art commerce relies on this type of collector, but for those of us who would love to collect en masse, but cannot, purchasing art has to be more meaningful and substantive. The art must evoke emotion to instigate the next step of actual buying.

You might be surprised to learn that price is not always what keeps a client from actually making the purchase. Hesitancy often comes from not knowing where or how they will display the piece. It’s with that in mind, we’d like to offer some tips for you.

  • If you only buy art occasionally, the best advice is to buy the piece that moves you on some level. It might be a landscape that is familiar to you and reminds you of a special moment. It might be a still life of an object that makes a special reference and makes you smile. It might be the use of a color or a simple brush stroke in just the right place that completes the painting and makes it stand out from the rest. Don’t over analyze your reaction to a piece. The most you should ask of an object d’art is that it gives you pleasure every time you see it.
  • Know your budget. Even if you fall in love with a piece, but can’t come to terms with the price, you’re unlikely to really enjoy it when you bring it home. Of course the gallery can help with this and often has several payment options—and layaway is one of them, but in the end, we want you to be comfortable—and return to buy more art. Art shoppers often shop with a number in mind and are willing to go a little further for that extraordinary find—know what that is and then take the plunge!
  • “I’m not sure where I’d put it”. This is easy for us more decisive types, but can be a dilemma for others. If it’s a two dimensional piece, wall space is key. However, consider displaying your painting on an easel or propped up on a ledge or sill. Some pieces even look great simply leaning against a wall. Remember the living and dining room are not the only places to hang fine art. Many home have spacious kitchens and great rooms, there’s always a bedroom or office. Where do you spend most of your time? Don’t display art for the visitors that will come and go; display it for your pleasure.
  • If you would love a Rip Caswell sculpture but think you have no place for it. Consider the above advice. Sculpture doesn’t always have to be displayed on a pedestal. A smaller piece can be displayed on a wall shelf. We have installed very large pieces on stairway landings and entry door alcoves. If room if tight inside and you have a protected patio or deck area, displaying your piece there, where it is visible from the inside, might be perfect. Bronze can handle all kinds of weather—that means the bathroom or kitchen where humidity fluctuations won’t harm it.
  • Even artisan jewelry or tooled leather can be displayed. Hang it on a door or on the wall from a beautifully crafted hook. Be creative. Almost anything goes with a little imagination. There is no real formula.
  • A few cautions. Know what conditions are best for your art. If you love your bathroom and envision admiring your art while taking a long, steamy bubble bath, you might want to consider hanging that water color in a different location, but it could the perfect place for a ceramic sculpture or blown glass piece. Bronze is great inside and out. A turned wood bowl is best in a neutral temperature zone, away from direct heat. Most paintings do best out of direct sunlight. Keep traffic patterns in mind with other media. Fine blown glass is probably better out of a high traffic area where it won’t get knocked around.
  • If you’re truly stumped, but the piece anyway. Bring it home and display it somewhere prominent, where you will walk by it or see it all the time. We guarantee, sooner than later, the perfect place will present itself to you.

Remember, the gallery where you purchased your art is a great resource. Be sure to take advantage of their expertise and ask about where and how to display your art.