Guide to buying art/prints on ebay

Besides buying art off of the original creators website, or even through a gallery, another potentially good resource of buying art is through auction sites like eBay or Etsy.

Along with the good deals, is also the probability of problems. So this lil article is basically just giving readers a heads up on what to watch out for.

1. Its ideal if you are given the provenance of the art, or the origin or source of where the art is coming from. This is also very helpful when the piece is quite expensive. Provenance is one of the perks of buying from galleries, since you know who had it before you. Many artists also sell their art directly through eBay or Etsy for example. So if you know its the actual artist selling the work then you know your safe.

2. Watch out for print auctions, where the print might have been made from a photograph of the work. Ive seen it a few times where the seller had simply taken a photo of the work, and then have prints made. This is a waste of your money, and it doesn’t help the artist out at all. This goes along with copies of prints. Its good to know if the print has a number attached to it, as in #24/100. If you can, check the artists site and see if a limit has been put on the print your looking at.

3. Another type of auction that I have seen quite often, is prints that are being removed from books or publications. I’m not quite sure how the artists take this, since it does come from a book that was sold, but as a buyer you are not getting a nice large, collectible print.

4. On eBay especially there are many art specific sellers, try to stick with them if you can. Or make sure you check out the feedback of the seller, and take a look at what they have sold. If they have sold art before, you know they hopefully know how to treat art.

5. Finally, make sure you can really look over the art. Nice clear pictures of the “actual” art is ideal, not just pics of the art taken from other sites. It’s always nice to see the art in person such as in a gallery, but if you are using auctions sites ask the seller for better pics of the work. If they wont give them up, then be wary, don’t waste your time.

Image: Print “The Gambling” by Alberto Cerriteño

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  • Reply
    Jeff H.
    Jul 18, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Useful information for an art seller, too…thanks.

  • Reply
    Nov 5, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    I am a lover of art and an affiliate of eBay.This article helps me to understand how to locate an art from a buyer’s point of view,although I am a seller.
    Thanks for the tips.

  • Reply
    Joe Payne
    Dec 16, 2008 at 12:28 am

    I see this all the time and it annoys the living Hell out of me. When you are purchasing a signed print off Ebay, always, always, always ask the seller if it is HAND-SIGNED by the artist. Many prints have signatures “in print” meaning that the “print” is a copy including the signature. It’s part of the copy. You will instantly know whether the seller is sh*t or not …

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