How to Decide Whether to Buy Original Artwork

How to Decide Whether to Buy Original Artwork

The decision to purchase an original piece of art can be an exciting and deeply personal one. It's a choice that can add character and individuality to your living space while also supporting the arts. However, given the cost of buying original art, it's not a decision that most of us can take lightly, and it can be tricky to answer definitively. It largely depends on your unique preferences, values, and circumstances. In this blog post, I'll try to help you make that decision for yourself by proposing a series of questions for you to consider.

  1. Do You Love the Piece?

At the heart of your decision lies the simple question: Do you love the piece? Art is deeply personal, and the most important factor when deciding to purchase a piece of original artwork is your emotional connection to it. Does it resonate with you, evoke strong feelings, bring up deep memories, or inspire you? If the answer is a resounding "yes," you're off to a good start.

  1. What's the Quality Like?

Original artworks come in various styles, mediums, and levels of craftsmanship. Consider the quality of the piece you're interested in. Assess the artist's history, skill, technique, and attention to detail, as these all affect the piece's quality (and usually price). For example, more experienced artists will use mediums and materials that are appropriate for the piece and the technique they use, rather than whatever is convenient or available at their disposal, making for a higher quality item in the end. 

  1. How Long Will It Last?

Original artworks are often created to stand the test of time, depending on the materials the artist uses. Unlike prints, which may fade or degrade over the years and need to be replaced, well-maintained originals can last a lifetime and even become cherished family heirlooms. Think about the longevity you desire from your art and the materials the particular artist used. Shameless plug: I use professional grade materials that are archival in quality to last as long as possible: tens if not hundreds of years.

  1. Will the Colors Fade?

Pigment quality, mediums used and their yellowing properties, environmental factors, and proper care can affect how colors hold up over time. Consider asking the artist or gallery about the materials used and the best practices for preserving the piece's vibrancy, such as how to clean the piece and whether it can be placed in direct sunlight. Artworks made with craft, students, or 'artist' grade materials are usually less vibrant and more likely to fade or yellow than those made with professional grade materials. 

  1. Do You Feel Any Connection with the Artist?

Understanding the artist's background, inspiration, and the story behind the artwork can deepen your appreciation of a particular piece, because every time you look at it you will remember a little story the artist told you, or how much you identified with the artist's experiences, or you'll recount that story to a friend and share the depth of emotion. A connection with the artist can enhance your ownership experience.

  1. How Much Do You Care About Supporting the Arts?

Without support, all artists struggle to continue their creativity and to be able to afford to just work on their art amid life's many financial demands. Consider your values and the importance you place on supporting the arts. The arts are vital to the continuation and creation of culture that future generations will enjoy, so if you think that is important, then the best way to do that is to support living artists financially. An original purchase can directly impact an artist's career and livelihood, allowing them to buy more/better materials and progress in their skills. The sad truth is that the vast majority of artists cannot afford to make art as much as they would like to. If you can make an artist's life a little better and hence contribute to the arts of the future, is that worth it for you?

  1. How Much Time Are You Going to Spend in the Space?

Think about where you plan to display the artwork. Is it a room you spend a lot of time in? Will you pass by the piece every morning and every evening, allowing it to improve your mood? Will you be hosting guests in the space so they can enjoy it too? Art has the power to transform the atmosphere of a space and create a unique ambiance.

  1. How Many Conversations Might It Start?

Original art has a way of sparking interesting conversations. Consider the potential for meaningful discussions and interactions the artwork might facilitate that wouldn't have occurred otherwise. If you ask the artist, they'll likely be happy to share their vision or the story of the piece with you, and even if they don't - so many conversations can be started that help you gain insight into other people and how they look at the world based on their interpretations of the artwork. 

  1. How Much Does It Express Your Inner Self?

Art can be a reflection of your personality and inner self. Does the artwork resonate with your values, beliefs, or experiences? Is it a statement, whether political or societal on something of import to you? Does it speak to you on a personal level? 

  1. How Much Can You Afford to Spend?

Practical considerations come into play as well. Evaluate your budget and determine how much you can comfortably spend on art without compromising your financial stability or other essential needs. For example, it's a no brainer to prefer to spend on your own education that will help improve your life than on an original art piece, in which case a print would suffice. But also keep in mind that many of the things we consider essential really aren't. Which leads me into my next point...

  1. Is There Any Other Luxury You're Willing to Give Up or Delay?

Consider the trade-offs. Are you willing to forgo other luxuries or delay certain expenditures to afford the painting you truly love and plan to keep forever? Do you really need that new iPhone or will you get the same amount of enjoyment out of your 2 year old phone so you can spend that money on a beautiful piece of artwork that will improve your overall quality of life? Would you rather invest in a fleeting luxury item like an expensive purse or shoes, which will serve you for a few years before being discarded, or invest in art that can last a lifetime, like a unique piece of jewelry or an original painting?


The decision to buy an original artwork is a personal one that depends on a multitude of factors. While there's no one-size-fits-all answer, these questions can serve as valuable guidelines for your decision-making process. Ultimately, it's about finding the piece that speaks to you and aligns with your values, aesthetics, and aspirations. Whether you decide to invest in an original artwork or opt for prints, remember that art has the power to enhance your life and surroundings in ways that are deeply meaningful and enriching


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