It's that time of the year when everyone gets into a frenzy over what to buy for loved ones and friends, how to fit the shopping in, and most importantly how not to fall into the inevitable traps of boring presents (we try to combat that one all year round!). But as all art lovers know, there's nothing boring about a brilliant work of art.
Buying art as a gift can seem like a daunting prospect and one that many people might shy away from, but remember, the brave will always be rewarded! With a bit of research and careful consideration, it is a beautiful, often unexpected, gift to receive, which will last a lifetime and certainly shows more than a little effort from the person giving.
Here are my 6 tips for buying art as a gift:
1. Set a budget
Be it a small everyday birthday present, a Christening present, a housewarming gift, or a present for a significant event like a wedding or anniversary, how much you are willing to spend may be a deciding factor as to whether you buy a work on canvas, a sculpture or a limited edition artwork. Once you have a budget in mind, you can then filter your search easily and be realistic about your range of choices, and, where necessary enlist help from an advisor.
2. Consider the space
Is their house colourful and eclectic, or minimal and subdued? Consider their tastes and interiors, and look for artworks that share similar qualities. If you are less informed on the person's style and taste in art then I would always advise to err on the side of caution and think small works rather than large. Size does not matter when you are buying original art and you can always find space for a small work, even if it's on a bookshelf or beside your bed!
Try to find an element of relevance or a link of some sort from the artwork or artist to the recipient. Art is personal and people buy it because it speaks to them emotionally. What are their hobbies, favourite animals, films, books, countries and places? Where are they from, do they love travelling, or have a favourite holiday destination? Do they love fashion, architecture, digital or design? All of these themes play into certain artworks. The list is endless but having a link, no matter how small, will make a huge difference and display a level of effort and thoughtfulness from your end, especially if you include a little handwritten note explaining the story behind the work. I was recently given a housewarming present of a small painting of the coastline where I grew up - technically, the piece wasn't amazing, however, I immediately recognised the landscape and straight away the emotional connection was made and I loved it!
4. Frame the work
If your budget allows, be sure to frame (and mount if necessary) the work so it is ready to go. There is nothing more satisfying than being able to put up an artwork immediately and few things more annoying for a recipient to have to find a local framer, transport it there and then pay for it on top! Apart from these points, let's not forget that a great frame can magically transform and elevate any artwork, no matter how small.
5. Buying for children
Art is a great and timeless gift for a child, other than the usual toys, gadgets and clothes, it's something for them to keep into adulthood. I love to buy for my Godchildren and my own kids so that they will have something to hold on to forever. Don't be tempted to buy something overly childish if you're buying for someone young. Instead choose something that can grow with them and they will still want to hang in their house when they are older. There are plenty of works which cross the boundaries of appealing to both children and adults, and as a bonus, the parents will not be restricted to hanging the work in the child's bedroom! Vester Uglu London 2016 by Kristjana S Williams is currently on my wishlist for my Godson, and I'm planning to buy it for him in the New Year. I think it's the perfect example of a work that is lovely for a child, but will stay with them through to adulthood.
6. Go with a gift card
If you are struggling to find the perfect artwork then consider a gift card or voucher, and allow them to choose something they will love. It's a great way to give them the pleasure of browsing, discovering and picking their own artwork, and takes the pressure off you a little! (On that note, always check the returns policy if you do opt to choose an artwork yourself!) And for a gift card, check if there is an expiry date, so nobody ends up 6 months down the line disappointed.