There are many advantages to buying art online and with the right questions and considerations in mind, you can easily grow your art collection with online purchases.

While buying artwork online can expose you to a diverse range of options, on top of being a  convenient and affordable way to buy artwork, there are some potential downfalls.

To help guide you, here are some of the biggest concerns collectors face when buying art online and how to face them.

Not Being Able to Inspect the Piece in Person

When purchasing art online, a valid concern is not being able to see the piece in person. If you are like many collectors looking to start acquiring artwork online, you might not be sure if the image online is a true representation of what you will get in person. In The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2015 on online art buyers, 71% of buyers made a purchase based on the online image alone.

So, how can you get to the point where you feel confident knowing that the artwork you see online is what you will receive?

The solution: Make sure you do your research on the artist or seller. If you are not buying from a reputable art gallery, check out the sellers’ history and reviews. Social media can be a great tool to help you check out collector groups and discover new artists that sell their work online.

Ask the seller about the condition of the work and don’t be afraid to ask for a condition report as well.

Unsure about what a condition report is? This is an example of one that an artist or seller should be able to provide for you.

Unsure of Authenticity

Making a purchase only to find out the artwork is a fake is a fear that keeps many art collectors from purchasing online. As a buyer, one of your top concerns is getting what you pay for. As a collector, having legitimate artworks is imperative to your collection.

The solution: Ask for a Certificate of Authenticity. The certificate should originate and be signed by the artist, a publisher, established dealer, or an acknowledged expert on the artist. 

Lack of Information on the Piece

When shopping for art online, it can be challenging to find information on the pieces you want to purchase. Having an accurate and up-to-date provenance is important to the valuation and authenticity of your collection. Keep in mind that you will want to have this information if you ever try to sell your pieces and for estate planning.

Not sure what provenance is? Take a look at what it is and why it should matter to you.

The solution: Ask the seller about any information they might have about the artist and history of the piece. If they do not have what you need, do your own research. The advantage of online shopping is having the ability to do your own searches on the artists and their work.

One easy way to document important information about your artwork for future sales in through Artwork Archive’s inventory system. Once you have gathered this information from the seller, don’t forget to enter it into your collection details to protect the value of your collection.

Vague Logistics and Insurance

Seventy-one percent of collectors in the Hiscox study wish there was more information online about the shipping and handling of artwork as well as insurance details for the pieces they purchase. What happens if the piece is damaged during shipping? What is covered if the piece is damaged when delivered?

The solution: Make sure you look into the website's shipping and packaging methods and cost. Ask the seller about the return policy and insurance if it is not clearly stated online. The return policy will also be important if the piece delivered does not match the image online.

The Bottom Line

With more and more collectors buying online, artists and reliable sellers are getting better at putting buyers minds at ease by providing the information buyers want.

In the meantime, use these tops concerns and how to face them to make a successful purchase. Gain more insights to collecting art and download our Essential Guide to Collecting Art.

Make sure to start managing your artwork by cataloging your art purchases.