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Art Collector Etiquette
Buyer Do's and Dont's
For all you art buyers and collectors out there who aspire to offend as many galleries, dealers, artists and other sellers as possible, here's a useful tutorial on how to do it right. The more of the these tips and pointers you follow, the sooner you'll alienate every art seller you come into contact with.
As hard as some of them might be to believe, they come from actual art world experiences, mine as well as those of gallery owners, artists, and other art sellers who I've known or corresponded with over the years. If you have any to add, please let me know. And now for the list...
* Expect galleries to show you special attention or treatment whether they know you or not or whether you've ever bought art from them.
* Take up as much of a gallery's or seller's time as possible without buying anything.
* Treat galleries like showrooms. For example, if a gallery is showing an artist you're interested in, check out the show, check out the selling prices, and then try to buy the art elsewhere for less.
* Treat galleries like research facilities for answering whatever art questions you have or for letting you use books or catalogues in their libraries.
* If you're visiting a gallery for the first time and someone doesn't recognize you, ask, "Do you know who I am?"
* Take every opportunity possible to show a gallery how much you know about a particular artist, type of art, art movement, etc. Whenever possible, emphasize how much more you know than they do.
* If a gallery is showing a particular artist, talk about what you own by the artist, how long ago you bought it, and how little you paid for it.
* Every chance you get, talk about any or all art you own, no matter who it's by, and how little you paid for it.
* Ask a gallery or seller whether they've ever heard of a particular artist. If they haven't, say something like, "I can't believe you don't know who they are."
* Ask to see a price list, look it over, and then ask the seller, "Is this really how much these are worth?"
* Always bargain on an asking price, whether you have a good reason for doing it or not.
* If a gallery agrees to give you a discount, say you'll think about it and then don't buy the art.
* If a gallery accepts your offer, make an even lower offer.
* Ask a gallery what their best price is and then when they tell you, offer them less.
* If a gallery accepts your offer, say you'll think about it and then never mention the art again.
* If a gallery accepts your offer, say you'll think about it and then try to sell it to someone else for more.
* Put art on hold and then don't buy it. The longer you keep it on hold, the better.
* Put art on hold and then don't bother telling the gallery you've decided not to buy it.
* If a gallery, dealer or artist offers you a particular work of art at a particular price, go around to as many galleries, dealers, or other sellers as possible and ask whether they think the price is fair.
* If you're trying to buy a particular work of art, point out everything you think is wrong with it.
* If you're trying to buy a particular work of art, tell the seller about other galleries, auctions, or dealers who are selling similar works for less.
* If you're trying to buy a particular work of art, tell the seller about everything else you're also thinking about buying... from other sellers.
* If you're trying to buy a particular work of art, mention how much less it was selling for a year or two ago, and then try to buy at those prices.
* If you're at a gallery and see an artist whose art you like, go online, find the artist, make contact, and try to buy art directly from them for less.
* If you like a particular gallery show, wait until it's over and then try to buy whatever didn't sell at greatly reduced prices.
* If you like a particular gallery show, wait until it's over and then try to buy whatever didn't sell directly from the artist at greatly reduced prices.
* After you've seen everything on display at a gallery, ask a general question about what else they have in back rooms or storage areas.
* Ask all kinds of unanswerable questions like "How much do you think this art will be worth in five years?" or "Do you think this artist will become famous?" or "Do you think this art is a good investment?" etc.
* Ask a seller whether a work of art you are thinking about buying from another seller is a good buy. Then ask what they think of the artist.
* Complain to a gallery about how you thought art they sold you would go up in value, be worth more, or go up in value faster than it has.
* Without asking permission, wander into a gallery's back room, storage areas, office, or library and start looking around. If you see something that interests you, pick it up or pull it out so you can have a better look.
* If you see art you like at a certain gallery, ask to see everything they have and when they're done, ask if they can give you names of any other galleries that sell similar art.
* Ask a gallery to comment on other galleries, gallery owners, artists, or anyone else in the art business you're trying to find out more about.
* Ask a gallery to comment on art you're thinking about buying at other galleries.
* Pull out your phone to show galleries what you're thinking about buying at other galleries. Make sure you watch their facial expressions intently to see how they react.
* If a gallery shows or represents a particular artist, ask them what they think about art by the artist that's for sale at other galleries, auctions, etc.
* Ask what a gallery thinks about art or artists that they don't sell or represent.
* Ask a gallery if they know any other places that sell the kind of art you're looking for.
* Tell artists or galleries about bad experiences you've had with other artists or galleries.
* Ask galleries who they think is better, (insert name of artist 1) or (insert name of artist 2).
* Ask galleries which artist they think is a better buy, (insert name of artist 1) or (insert name of artist 2).
* Expect artists, galleries or other sellers to buy back art that they've sold you in the past.
* Expect artists, galleries or other sellers to buy back art that they've sold you in the past for at least as much as you paid for it.
* Call artists or galleries outside of normal business hours and expect them to speak with you.
* Touch art without asking permission.
* Tell gallery staffers that you only want to speak with the owner.
* Be impolite, rude, or abusive to gallery staffs.
* Walk into a gallery with food. Better yet, walk in while eating it.
Need help buying art? Deciding what to buy or how much to pay? Pretty sure you want it but not sure what to do next? Buying a half-an-hour of my time for $110 would probably be a good idea. I'll review your situation and make whatever recommendations might be advisable to assure a positive outcome and that everything goes as smoothly as possible. You can contact me here either to make an appointment or with any questions you might have.
(art by Leah Rosenberg)
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