We have all been there: in the rush towards the Holidays you have forgotten to do your Christmas shopping. As you find yourself frantically running around Chelsea to find your partner a meaningful piece of art that won’t require you to take out a second mortgage, make sure to adhere to art world etiquette. Here are three no no’s you want to avoid.
Calling an artwork ‘decorative’
Right or wrong, there has always been a distinction between decorative and fine art: the former including design such as furniture and jewelry whereas the latter is considered to have conceptual meaning beyond the merely functional. Regardless of where you fall on this discussion, do not call an artwork ‘decorative’ when the gallery owner or artist is present: it is considered a grave insult.
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Negotiating a little too hard
At their discretion, galleries and artists may decide to give you a collector discount because you have bought from them before or because you are working with an art advisor. Don’t expect discounts of 50% or more. Art is a luxury good and is priced as such. Of course you should do you research and make sure you don’t overpay but at the same time, if you want to be take seriously as a collector, you can’t be a penny pincher.
As much as art investment is a hot topic, speculating in contemporary art is not a good idea for most collectors. Aside from the risky nature of such an investment (contrary to popular belief, a lot of contemporary art does not go up in value over time), primary market galleries spend their time protecting their artists’ markets in order to avoid volatility. The fastest way to remove yourself from a gallery’s waitlist is to buy a work and flip it at auction three months later.