Art Buying Tips for Beginners

Sonia Patwardhan
4 min readAug 30, 2023


Painting by Jagannath Paul.

Navigating the art world as a first-time buyer can feel especially daunting. As the owner and curator of Laasya Art, I find that many of our clients are new to collecting and curious about all aspects of the process, from the philosophical to the logistical. Luckily, over the years of advising clients, I have identified some fundamental guidelines on how to buy art and build a collection you love.

Below are my answers to some of the most common questions that come up with first-time art buyers.

There are countless options in terms of artists, styles and themes. How do I decide what art to buy?

Before starting your collection, it is important to understand your own taste by exploring local and online galleries, reading about art and visiting museums. Do you repeatedly feel drawn to certain subjects or colors? Once you feel confident in your unique preferences, set a budget and buy what you love. Either you connect with a painting, or you don’t — the painting you buy will likely be with you for a long time, so trust your instincts and choose art that resonates with you.

How do I choose art for my home?

Buying art is best approached from the heart. Rather than searching for a work that matches your architecture and furniture, or fits a certain type like abstracts or landscapes, look for something you love first. Then if it fits your aesthetics, dimensions of the space and budget, go for it. If in doubt about a purchase, explore the possibility of hanging the painting in your home to see how it feels.

Where can I buy high quality, genuine works of art?

Look for galleries that offer a diverse, curated collection of art for varying taste and price points. Read online reviews to check that the gallery has a good reputation, and keep in mind that reputable galleries should vet their artists and readily provide information such as a brief biography. Finally, always ask for proof of authenticity for any artworks that you purchase. Proof of authenticity can include artist signatures, certificates of authenticity, catalogs and even gallery invoices.

How do I buy art from a gallery, whether a brick and mortar gallery or an online gallery?

Contact the gallery to express your interest and arrange a phone call, Zoom call or in-person visit. Be upfront about your ideal themes, sizes, colors and budget so that the gallerist can suggest appropriate works. Ask any questions you may have about the artist and artwork, as well as about shipping and other additional costs. A gallery can also add value in many other aspects of the art buying process, like providing referrals to professional framers, recommending other artists that you may like and making the overall process as smooth as possible.

When buying art online, it is particularly important to confirm the condition of the painting before shipping, and always check dimensions of the piece and measure the intended hanging space. Finally, be sure to know the returns and refunds policy.

How do I know if an artist is reputable?

If you have any questions about an artist’s work or career, do not hesitate to ask — an experienced gallerist should be able to explain the artist’s credentials, history, creative process and the story behind their work. These are important aspects of the art buying process, and knowledge enhances the joy of living with art and supporting artists.

How is original art priced, and why is there such a wide range?

Professional artists make a living from selling their work, so prices reflect not only their time and labor but also their education and experience. For example, younger and emerging artists are typically more affordable than established artists. Some of the factors that determine the price of a piece include the artist’s reputation, the size of the work, the overall demand for their work and in some cases, the associated production costs.

Is buying art a good investment?

Art is not a liquid investment like stocks or gold, which one can easily sell or buy in the marketplace. Collect art because you genuinely connect with a certain painting and enjoy how it makes you feel or brightens your living space. Having said that, we have seen significant appreciation of the works of certain artists over the years. We are always happy to provide more details about individual artists upon request.

At the end of the day, art should enhance your life, not add stress! Trust your taste, have fun and be proud of your budding collection. I hope these art buying tips have been helpful.

Sonia Nayyar Patwardhan



Sonia Patwardhan

Curator, founder & entrepreneur of Laasya Art Gallery in Palo Alto, California. Passionate about raising awareness of contemporary and traditional Indian art.