Art Is More Than Just An Accessory

Love at first sight is a powerful experience. Sometimes it lasts, sometimes it doesn’t and only time will tell. The best plan is to let the romance settle and not to rush into anything.

The same principle applies when you’re buying a painting, at least according to an art collector that I met at a gallery opening a few weeks ago. “I would never buy a painting on impulse,” he said. “The painting that first catches your eye can be one that you’ll tire of very quickly. The good ones keep coming back into your mind, niggling at you like a stone in your shoe. They won’t let you go. Those are the paintings that will hold your interest over time.”

So first, you find your heart’s desire and then you walk away from it. But what if someone else buys it in the meantime? The art collector shrugged. “It happens. You just have to let it go. There are other paintings.”


The crux of the matter is that buying a painting takes a bit of confidence. It’s an important decision, not just aesthetically, but also financially. An original painting is a relatively expensive purchase. “When people haven’t bought art before, they can be very insecure about it,” says Summer Obaid of the online gallery, Fine Art Seen.

The artworks that they sell are painted by artists across the world and mostly come as ready-to-hang canvases stretched on wooden frames. They generally don’t require further framing. Prices range from €100 to around €5,000, but most of her customers pay between €300 and €700 for an original painting. “You’d pay that for a sofa, but that’s a purchase that most people would take fairly seriously too,” she says.

If your budget is less than €100, you’d be better going for a limited edition print and there’s a damn fine collection at Dublin’s North Brunswick Street Studio, Damn Fine Print.

As well as providing an investment, paintings and wall-mounted art can lift the look of your home immeasurably and provide interest on every wall, be it in pride of place over the fireplace in the living room or as some light whimsy on the wall of a downstairs wc. A walk around a gallery outlet that sells the sort of thing you like has been the traditional route of purchasers in search of local artists, but online opens up the world.

Buying art online is not for everyone, but it has some big advantages. The price of a painting from Fine Art Seen includes delivery to anywhere on the globe and if you don’t like it, you can send it back within two weeks at no extra cost. Just don’t throw out the packaging until you’re certain you want to keep it.

Artfinder, an online gallery that offers an equivalent service, has similar terms of business and an emphasis on original paintings that sell for less than £500 (€576). Both galleries are UK based, but represent artists from many countries, including Ireland. Online-only galleries seem like a good deal for artists too. Fine Art Seen charges a commission of 30pc, which is much less than most physical galleries and seems typical within the online-gallery business.

But how do you choose a painting you haven’t actually seen? Fine Art Seen offers an advisory service, based on an online questionnaire which helps you to define your taste in very simple terms. Do you like abstract art or landscapes? What is your budget? What size of painting are you looking for? What room do you plan to put it in?

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