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How to Buy Art

Designer and gallery owner Alison Milne takes the guesswork out of artwork and explains how to buy art that's right for you and your home.


Above: console, chair and all artwork supplied by Alison Milne Design; accessories, Elte; rug, Weavers Art.

1. Establish an art budget.

Whether you're setting up a new space or redesigning an existing room in your home, you should set your art budget up front, independent of your decorating budget.

2. Get the best that you can afford.

If you can't afford a pinnacle piece by a master, don't buy their inferior work. Instead, buy the best of an emerging artist. Look for a piece that's a good representation of their work and that's part of a successful period in their (young) career.

3. Get to know your art.

A piece of art should be a conversation starter. Get to know the artist, the story behind the work and who, if anyone, owned it before you. A respected previous patron adds value, and your new perspective on the artist's career is indicative of the scope of your investment.

4. Always buy what you love!

Art should raise the hair on your arm! It should make you feel. The work needs to speak to you personally in order to have longevity and relevance in your home or collection. If a piece of art moves you, you'll never regret the purchase.

5. Let art define the space, not the other way around.

The last thing you should do is buy a piece of art to match your furniture. They should complement one another; your furniture is the foundation, and the art is the emotion. It's the perfect way to inject your personality into a room, so have some fun with it!


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