Greg Mason Burns

How to Buy Art if You’re Not a Millionaire in Six Easy Steps

We’ve all heard about the famous artist getting auctioned off for millions of dollars, and we’ve all heard about the starving artist as well. However there’s two sides to this: it’s not just the non-famous artist who’s getting left out, but also those who’d like to buy art but have a standard middle-class mortgage to pay. This article is for those who’d love to decorate their home or office with some art they love but typically can’t afford it. Here are six steps on how to buy art in a good way:

How to Buy Art

The BATHE – Oil on Canvas – 60 x 100 cm

Find an Artist You Like

This means doing your homework. Don’t just find a piece of art that you like, but find an artist who consistently produces what you like. In fact, find about four or five of them so that you can track their work, prices, and so you won’t get left out when that one piece you really like gets sold before you’re able to afford it.

Go and visit the artists. Talk to them. Ask them questions about the process, materials, or anything you’d like to know. Don’t expect to get all of your answers in the way you want them. Artists create differently from how we see art, so the answers might be different from your expectations, but going to their studios and getting to know them and the art makes a difference to both you and them. If you don’t like to talk that much, then go during open studios. You may be able to listen in on a conversation and get all the info you need.

When Doing Your Homework, Be You

When searching for an artist to follow, be yourself. Don’t find someone who’s trendy or you think will impress your friends. Yes, that’s an age-old tactic used by artists to sell, and it works for many of them. Hey, if you like the trendy artist or art, then have at it. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you don’t then don’t be afraid to find what you like. You’ll be happier for this in the long run. The important thing is that you buy what you like. There are a lot of benefits to this and I lay them out below. But in short, if you’re being you when you buy art then everything else will come together. That means both your own pleasure of being an art owner as well as the decorative planning of your house or apartment.

Untitled Surreal Abstract #9 – Oil Pastel on Paper – 21 x 29 cm

Be Prepared to Save Money Before Buying

This is where things get a little tricky for some, and I’ll explain this more below, but there will always be cheap art to be found, and that’s great if that’s what you’re looking for. In fact, some cheap art is fantastic while expensive art can be terrible. That’s why you need to do your homework first. Find the artist(s) you like and then find out how you can afford that artist. Don’t do it the other way around (again, see below for why). If this means dropping a check down the moment you see the art, then fine, but that’s not likely to be the case most of the time. In fact, you may find that the artist you like sells in the thousands. Not everyone has $3,000 to drop at a moment’s notice, but this doesn’t mean it’s out of reach for you. Find the artist you like, find the pieces you like, and save up for those pieces.

One solution that I offer is a sort of layaway plan. If you subscribe to my Patreon page, in time you’ll build up a balance and be able to buy something. That’s what most of my subscribers currently do. They pay anywhere from $20 to $30 per month and eventually they can buy a piece they like. Plus, there are other benefits. Every year I send my top supporters free studies, of which some are frameable as original art in of themselves. My supporters also get advance notice on new works, a look at works-in-progress, and a peak into my artistic thoughts and process. It’s really a win-win for everyone.

Be Disciplined

This is for your future, not for your instant gratification. If you’re saving for art then save for it. If you just want to decorate your house then you’re doing something different. Buying art has a much longer and stronger relationship than buying decorations does. Save for art that you like, not decorations you think your friends will pretend to notice.

Igreja do Bom Jesus dos Navegantes – Oil on Board – 30 x 40 cm

Be Patient

If you’re saving for a particular piece then that piece may get sold before you save enough to buy it. Don’t worry. Remember, you’re buying the artist and not the art, so to speak. Yes, you’ll find some pieces from an artist you like more than other pieces. But if you’re patient and disciplined in your savings, and if you’ve found what you really enjoy, then you’ll be able to buy that new piece that pops up when it happens.

Buy the Art, Not the Decoration

This is the most important step. Again, if you simply want to decorate your house then this article isn’t for you. Yes, art decorates, but it’
s also much more than that. Art can actually help you make better decisions in your life just by being in the same room as you. That’s not a joke or a sales pitch. Scientists have actually studied how seeing art changes our mindset. And it’s different when it comes to a painting versus a photograph. Landscape paintings create a different reaction than a photo of the same landscape does, for example.

But that’s not why I say this: buying a painting to match the couch is a bad idea because the couch will be tossed out in a few year’s time. After that, you have a painting that matches what? The new couch? Seriously? You’re going to¬† buy a new couch because it matches the painting you bought to match the old house? This is crazy. The best thing you can do is save and wait until you’re ready to buy that piece of art you really like. It will have much more value to you in the short term as well as the long term. And if you grow tired of it, you may be able to sell it for more than you purchased it. There’s no reason why buying art as an investment has to be left to the rich.


How to Buy Art Summary:

When I first became an artist I was all over the map when it came to style, or at least it seemed that way. If one looked at my work as individual pieces then one would see what appears to be very different pieces of art. However, if you put them all up on a wall together then it quickly becomes apparent that they were all created by me. The same thing happens to people who buy art. Don’t buy to match the couch. Instead, buy to match you. It doesn’t matter if you buy what appears to be 15 completely different pieces of art. It doesn’t matter if those 15 pieces seemingly don’t fit together. If you’re buying from the heart, if you’re buying the art and that artist that you like, and if you’re putting in the time to think and save money, then they’ll all fit. Why? Because they’re you. Your personality will be on the walls. You’ll be able to change furniture however and whenever you like. It will be your collection, and your friends will take notice because you’ll be showing them what they like about you in the first place, you.

Zapatos de Flamenco – Oil Pastel on Glass – 22 x 32.5 cm