A beginner's guide to buying art

Posted May 17
Updated May 18

"Antiques Roadshow" experts mistakenly valued an old high school art project at $50,000. Here's how to know what to pay for a piece of art. (Deseret Photo)

An art appraiser on "Antiques Roadshow" made a big mistake recently when he said a high school art project from the 1970s was worth $30,000 to $50,000.

"The project for a ceramics class at Churchill High School in Eugene, Oregon, (was) characterized as a unique art piece from the Mid-Atlantic coast of 19th-century America," The Washington Post reported.

The piece of art's owner, Alvin Barr, was able to laugh about the mistake because he'd only paid $300 for the pot at an estate sale. But the episode illuminated some people's worst fears about purchasing art.

Art industry insiders admit that their world can be confusing and intimidating, so they suggest that first-time buyers do plenty of research before making a purchase, as Forbes reported in 2013.

"Open yourself to new things and figure out what type of art you like," the article noted. "Visit museums and galleries, talk to other collectors and artists (and) try to familiarize yourself with various periods, mediums and styles."

During this period of exploration, aspiring art owners should determine how much they're willing to spend on a painting, photograph or sculpture. There are a variety of options available at any price range.

"Be aware of the hidden costs of owning art: shipping, framing and insurance," Forbes reported.

Shoppers should be prepared to compromise if their ideal piece is out of their price range, The New York Times reported last year.

"If the work you want is too expensive, consider smaller works by the same artist, a work on paper rather than an oil painting, an oil-pastel study, an older work or a photograph," the article noted.

Art purchases sometimes feel difficult to justify because they're a luxury, experts said. After all, people can fill the walls of their homes with family photos and sentimental crafts. But paintings and other art by professional artists can be a great investment in the long run.

"For the best kind of investment, consider looking into young, emerging art. These pieces are cheaper and have a great potential for increasing in value and leading to future gains," Forbes reported.

The most important factor to consider when shopping for art is how a particular piece makes you feel, art advisers said.

"Don't devalue something just because it's priced at less than what you think 'good' art should be priced at," said Ginger Porcella, founder of Big Deal Arts Advisory in New York, to USA Today. "I always tell people that if you really like it, buy it, whether it is $50 or $500."

Email: Twitter: @kelsey_dallas


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