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Expert guide to buying art for your home

By November 5, 2020Home

No matter what your interior style preference, hanging the right piece of art will elevate your space and add instant personality to your home. But buying art is something that can scare people. They fear it’s an expensive pursuit, but this is not the case. To dispel this myth and get some advice about how to start and curate an art collection I spoke with gallery owner Catherine O’Riordan from So Fine Art Editions. 


Do your research

As the saying goes, knowledge is power, so spending time researching before you invest in a piece of art is a great place to start. Research galleries via the internet and narrow down what artwork you respond to or moves you. Look at different kinds of artworks to get a feel for what you like. Do you prefer abstract versus figurative? Do you like bright, colourful shapes or muted landscapes? 

Once you’ve identified pieces you like visit the gallery to view the works. ‘I think it best to visit galleries and see the works in the flesh,’ says O’Riordan. ‘The gallery will give you the background to an artist’s career and information on the exhibitions they have been in,’ she explains. There’s no need to feel intimidated when visiting a gallery. ‘If you are unsure of what you might want or what might work in a particular space, don’t be afraid to ask questions and get advice. Gallerists give excellent advice and have a great knowledge of the artists they represent.’

O’Riordan also recommends joining the galleries mailing lists. This way, you will be notified about private viewings and exhibitions, by attending these events you’ll have the opportunity to meet the artists.  

Another great suggestion is to invest in an art publication such as The Irish Arts Review. These publications are filled with articles on artists, trends and reviews of exhibitions. ‘You do not need to have a huge knowledge of fine art, and you never know you may develop a passion,’ says O’Riordan.

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Build your collection over time

An art collection is something that should evolve and develop over time. It’s not something you need to pull together all at once. ‘Focus on one main piece initially, then build up your collection over time,’ recommends O’Riordan. ‘Buy what interests and engages you,’ she says. And don’t feel you need to limit yourself to one medium. ‘Look at photography, original fine art prints, wall ceramics and sculpture. Buy pieces you love as you will be looking at it daily,’ says O’Riordan.

Sometimes less is more when it comes to creating an impact with art. ‘A few well-placed pieces can be more effective than just filling every space,’ says O’Riordan.



Setting a budget is essential when investing in your home, and buying art is no different. That said, the budget you need to invest in a beautiful artwork does not need to be as significant as you might think. ‘The idea that all art is expensive is a misconception,’ says O’Riordan. 

‘You can purchase an original artwork for as little as €100. Emerging artists’ works are very affordable compared with established artists.’ She explains. Consider investing in original fine art prints – these are not reproductions but are hand editioned etchings, lithographs or woodcuts.  

‘The artist or printmaker creates an original image on copper or stone and handprints a limited edition. Each print medium will give a different visual result, which makes them interesting to collect. They are more affordable than a painting and you can buy something really special for €300. Another affordable option are Unique works on paper, recommends O’Riordan. ‘Art is an investment for life and the value is looking at the piece every day and receiving joy,’ she says.

Commissioning a piece is not just for the rich and famous. ‘If you see an artwork you love, and it is sold you can approach the artist or gallery to commission a similar work,’ says O’Riordan. Bear in mind it will not be a replica of the original piece. When commissioning an artwork communication is key,’ says O’Riordan. ‘Agree on all the details: composition, size, cost and lead time.’ O’Riordan recommends it is no more expensive than buying a piece in the usual way and usually an artist will look for a deposit beforehand. 

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Building your collection

Once you’ve started your collection, it is possible to get advice about adding to it and curating what you have. ‘It is helpful to build a relationship with a gallery,’ recommends O’Riordan. ‘They will advise on adding to your collection and give you guidance on things like size and what pieces will complement the space and other works you already own,’ she explains

Talk to the galleries about the kinds of services they offer. ‘Some gallerists will bring works to your home to let you try them in your space and see how they work with the artworks you already have. Most galleries also offer framing and installation,’ explains O’Riordan. When it comes to buying art, whether it’s your first time or you are adding to an existing collection, there is one last piece of advice. ‘Take pleasure in the experience of looking at art, and there is no need to feel intimidated, take your time and trust your taste!’

Denise O'Connor

Author Denise O'Connor

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