HOW TO PURCHASE ART: Local Expert Advice on Starting a Collection

At a certain point in life, something shifts in us. We begin to want to surround ourselves with more precious, curated items that we’ve collected over time—paintings, rugs and sculpture, for example—and less ‘disposable art’ we’ve purchased from stores like HomeSense or IKEA (although they have some fabulous prints to hang in the meantime!)

For beginners, the artwork-purchasing process can feel intimidating, whether you’re deciding where to hang a print, debating whether to pull the trigger on a first acquisition, or wondering where the heck to start—but there’s no need to fear. We asked local expert Annis Karpenko, Executive Director of Visual Arts Mississauga at Riverwood, her top tips to consider when investing in a special piece.

As it turns out, choosing art for the home is much more intuitive than you might think if you follow a few simple rules.

Start local

Spend time visiting exhibitions and opening events in Mississauga and the GTA, go to small galleries and visit art fairs.
“Mississauga has a vibrant cultural landscape. Find out what’s happening in the GTHA, and then show up,” Karpenko advises. This is a great way to expose yourself to the artists in our community. Don’t forget that buying from artists who are starting to make a name for themselves is like stumbling upon a great real estate deal. Another tip: Hotels and coffee shops often showcase the works of local artists. Keep your eyes open.

Choose art from your heart

Buying art is a very personal process. “Buy with your heart,” recommends Karpenko, “and then you will have no regrets.”
Original art is unique and one-of-a-kind. If your heart skips a beat at the sight of a piece, or your soul feels a connection, don’t hesitate too long or you could miss out.

Another way to find art that you have a meaningful connection with is to keep your eyes open on your next vacation. This will not only elevate your experience as a tourist, but it allows the memory to become part of your everyday life.

Get to know the artist

“If the artist is willing, creating a relationship with them encourages them and puts you at the front of their list when they make new work,” Karpenko says.

• If you don’t get the chance to meet the artist in person, read up. Follow their social media to get a sense of who they are in real life.

Did you fall in love with a piece that’s slightly above your budget? “You can always request a payment plan,” suggests Karpenko.

• If you’re choosing an artist to create a commissioned piece, make sure they have experience in making commissions, or ask the artist for references of clients they have worked with in the past.

• Don’t ask the artist to stray too far from their style or try to control them too much. This is a recipe for disaster.

• Offer photos of where the piece will be displayed and some of the artwork and objects you like.

• Make sure you clearly state your expectations before the work begins so that you are not disappointed.

• Invest in not only paintings, but crafts and sculpture, too… and don’t worry about everything matching! An eclectic mélange of art and furniture can be just as beautiful as a very concise edit of pieces that match your décor.

• Don’t forget to hang art in the smaller areas, such as bathrooms and entryways. An interesting piece of art can really elevate those spaces and make them memorable for your visitors.

• Once you have purchased a piece you love, choose the right frame. If you want to keep things simple, Karpenko says, “There are excellent framers in the area who can guide you to make sure your work will look great in your home.”

Happy shopping!

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