How to buy art – tips from an art novice

I have a confession to make. I don’t have an artistic bone in my body. I can’t draw, I’m no good at painting and I can’t even cut a straight line. Hopeless!

The only art prize I’ve ever won is a Dollarmites colouring in competition when I was  seven. I won a super awesome pencil case set and a hideously ugly orange money box. I also won a Freddo Frog colouring in competition when I was 11. My prize wasn’t chocolate (I clearly didn’t win the major prize) but a giant backpack made from wetsuit material shaped like Freddo’s face. Clearly I have missed my calling in life and should have been a professional colouring-in-er-a.

So when it comes to writing about art, I’m a little lost. I can’t plate up a beautiful meal and my instagram photos leave a lot to be desired (I’m trying, I really am!) I really don’t enjoy art galleries (we raced through The Louvre in Paris which I ashamed to admit but at least we went there…) and I avoid modern art at all costs. So why would you POSSIBLY read an article title ‘how to buy art’ from someone who has no clue about the subject…

Because my advice is real. It’s not pretentious or over the top. It’s simple, fun and for the everyday Aussie. I’m here to give you some tips (pretty basic tips I’ll admit) as a complete art novice. How to brighten up your home, how to buy art that doesn’t cost the earth, what to think about when buying and what should you look for. My art collection started when husband and I lived overseas and visited some incredible places around the world, picking up some pretty amazing things along the way.

So here are my top novice tips:

1)      Find local artists. Local markets are a great place to start as they’re often looking for a foot in the door. You can get unique pieces and could even ask them to create you something individual if you love their style and have something specific in mind.

2)      Look for street art. This is my biggest tip. In your local suburb, when you’re travelling interstate but mostly when/if you travel overseas. Street artists are where we got most of our pieces and they were always really cheap. Plus you can barter (which my husband LOVES) and often get additional pieces thrown in for free or for a really great price. These pieces will most likely be mass produced, however it’s pretty unlikely that any of your friends will have the same pieces in their houses.


Cheap but ever so cheerful! Street art from Portugal

3)      Have a look around first. Unless you fall well and truly in love with a piece, feel free to take your time, think about it and come back later. Often in street markets (especially overseas) you will find similar artworks or pieces at another store and it can sometimes be cheaper. Barter your heart out (if you like to, I personally hate it, but luckily it’s one of my husband’s favourite pastimes) and walk away if you need to. Don’t be ashamed to go back to a stall if they end up having the cheapest price, they’re not going to care that you’re back if they’re getting a sale out of it!

4)      Don’t be afraid to buy when you’re away from home. If you can find canvas paintings, ask the artist to take it off the frame and get it re-stretched when you get home. It’s MUCH easier to transport in your bag and re-stretching isn’t overly expensive. Also, look out for small, flat prints. Again, they might be mass produced and simply a print rather than a unique painting or piece of art, but if you love it, and it has happy memories attached to it, I say go for it! We bought a series of prints in New York from a street seller and while they aren’t the most unique pieces, they take me back to that wonderful long weekend when we had a ball and got engaged in the Big Apple.

5)      Choose what you love. It doesn’t have to match everything else in your house (unless you’re a matchy-matchy person in which case ignore me, you would totally hate my crazy all over the shop house!) but you have to love it. To look at it and remember why you loved it and why you bought it is what art is all about. I look at my two paintings from Vietnam and am transported back to Hanoi where I found EXACTLY what I wanted and loved it as soon as I saw it.


I love how this piece transports me back to Vietnam


So much colour! We bought these as canvases, stored them in a tube post-pack while we were backpacking and had them re-stretched when we returned home.

6)      Buy trinkets. Trinkets can be art as much as a painting and are often a lot easier to transport! I have a painted rooster statue from Portugal (think of the Nando’s chicken, it looks just like that!) brightly coloured cushions from Mexico, incredible hand painted bowls from Morocco, a rug from Jordan, a baby Nessie statue from Scotland and a wooden lamp from Thailand. Just to name a few… All of these equal memories to me and I consider them all art that brightens my world and makes my house a home.

Travel trinkets_amica

Mexico, Thailand, Cyprus, Jordan, plus some vintage pieces from my family. This is what I classify as art


See?! Just like the Nando’s chicken! Love me some travel trinkets!

7)      Photos are free to take and easy to transport! Filling your home with photos is a wonderful way to add colour, memories and happiness to your home. They don’t need to be travel photos, they can simply be pictures of friends and family. A photo down the local park might not seem that exciting now, but in ten years’ time when the people in the photo are all grown up and you no longer live near that park, it can take you back down memory lane. One of my all time favourite photos is a pair of photos taken on my parents honeymoon. That was almost 43 years ago now and while I wasn’t there (obviously) they’re such treasures, I consider them art for my home.


Photos can be art just as much as any painting

8)      Art is all about creating happiness and memories. It’s also very personal. Buy what you love, no one else needs to love it if it means something to you.


Even my fridge is art to me – so many memories. SO many magnets

So they’re my art tips. To those of you who are artists or work in the art industry, I officially apologise. I’m not trying to pretend I’m an art guru or really have any clue what I’m talking about. I just know what I love, what makes me happy and wanted to pass on a few tips I’ve learnt along the way! And if you know of any colouring-in-er-a jobs going, do let me know!

Love Dan x

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*love to cook *yoga addict *newbie clean eater *adore travelling the world *aussie living in London *love life * LifeLoveTravelFood

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