March 7, 2019
A 19th Century Engraving The Infant Hercules Sir J. Reynolds Pinxit
There was a point in our not-too-distant past when shopping for art, at any respectable level, required time away from one’s day, waiting for auctions, or having an old school face-to-face with the local gallery or broker. Today, there isn’t a person among us who needs a reminder of how significantly things have changed. What was once, for many, an uncomfortable process of getting hands-on and listening to “experts” who may or may not have a clue what they’re selling, buyers now have the freedom to browse, research, compare and contemplate the exact pieces they’re interested in.
Of course, this does not come without a caveat. As with any digitally-emerging industry, there are some fundamentals that must not be overlooked. Ignoring them could result in making a bad purchasing decision, ending up with something in complete contrast, or getting scammed outright.
Here are 10 considerations to always remain mindful of when taking your art purchases in a more digital direction:
Overall Presentation Integrity and Impression
What sort of collective effort has the seller made to make everything clean, easily understood and visually pleasing? A single, blurry picture with descriptions that are vague, exceedingly short or absent is a big red flag.
What’s the Seller’s History and Expertise?
Credibility is immeasurably important when it comes to buying anything online, and especially relevant if you’re spending hundreds or thousands on a single piece. Read up on their story to ensure expertise and legitimacy.
How Detailed are Photos and Descriptions?
Whether it’s a work of art or a rare antique, being able to see and read about what you’re buying is key in making a wise purchase. Look for dealers who’ve taken time to provide multiple high-res images and detailed descriptions.
What are the Shipping and Return Policies?
Shopping for fine art or antiques is a far cry from buying a sweater. That said, it’s strongly advisable to make certain that the seller’s shipping & return policy is one that you’re comfortable with in the event of unforeseen issues.
Have Others Left Them Online Reviews?
The feedback of others can speak volumes when deciding who to entrust with your online art purchases. If they’re an established dealer, do a little browsing and see what others have said about their own experiences doing business.
Does their Website Have an SSL Security Certificate?
Under no circumstances should you buy from dealers who sell their collection via an unsecured website. If this concept is unfamiliar, look on your browser’s address bar. A secured site will say “https”, with the “s” indicating SSL protection.
Have Any and All Visible Imperfections Been Pointed Out?
Those who have something to hide will do exactly that, hide things. Today’s more respectable sellers are not shy at all in highlighting any flaws, fades, cracks or other imperfections in order to help you fully understand the piece.
For Those Abroad, Do They Ship Internationally?
It may seem obvious considering the volume and ease of worldwide shipping, but it never hurts to make sure in advance if you’re shopping outside the seller’s country. This is commonly listed on FAQ, About Us or Shipping pages.
Is Their Inventory Consistent, Diverse?
Take a few minutes to browse the seller’s various product categories, as it can help you gauge a better understanding of their expertise on not only your piece but their collective knowledge across a spectrum of art and collectibles.
Is the Staff Accessible and Easy to Contact?
If service after the sale is important to you, one of the smartest things you can do is see how they handle calls and emails before your first order. Call them, send an email or two, and see how responsive they are from the onset.
Become a Safe, Savvy Online Art Aficionado
To learn more about how to protect yourself and avoid art buyer’s remorse, feel free to reach out to the Artzze team via our contact page. We’ll be happy to help you better understand the potential pitfalls while answering any questions you might have.