How to Buy Art Online

If you love thumbing through the home decor magazines, as I do, you will quickly notice that a well-appointed room includes artwork, both wall art and art objects on surfaces. As an artist myself, I'm very comfortable collecting favorite pieces of art, and although my home is modest, it is rich in artworks that bring me joy.

Bath artCredit: morgue filesA common misconception toward owning art these days is that original art is too expensive. And even those people who know they can afford expensive art, are unsure of where to begin finding works to add to their decor. But, affordable, original art is out there for your home interior.

One place where my husband and I have had great luck in purchasing original art is on Ebay. It takes a little savvy, and patience, but the rewards have been great. We have been able to purchase original art that we love, on a shoe-string.

Two rules we follow are: stay within your budget, and be patient. If you take into account the styles of art you like, the size you are looking for, and color palette (somewhat), you are ready to take a look at online auctions like Ebay.camel sculptureCredit: morgue files

So here are a few tips we have put together for Buying Art On Ebay:


Narrow your search-be specific with your keywords for your search. For instance, if you like art from a particular time period, use words like "mid-century," "modern," "18th century," or "impressionism." Words like old, vintage, surrealism, modern, abstract, can be useful in fine-tuning your search. If, for instance, you are looking for an American 1900's original watercolor signed, use all the keywords that are underlined.

Research the Artist

Look for other works by the same artist on the web, by typing in the artist's name, and the word "artist" after it.  For instance: Claude Monet artist. You can see if there are other works out there and if this is a known artist. You can also type in Claude Monet auction prices, and if lucky, find the value of artworks Claude does in today's market.Susan WatercolorCredit: Susan Spencer

Research the Seller

You may want to read the reviews of what other buyers say about the person or company selling the art piece. Look at where it is being sold from, and the rating of your seller. Contact the seller if you have any questions. Do your best to make sure the art is what it says it is, there are quite a lot of forgeries out there and online. If the price is "too good" it's often a forgery,  with the words "in the manner of"  hidden in the description.

The Value of the Piece

If the artwork has some value as an art piece, look for Certificates of Authenticity and Appraisals. If it is signed, it will either be signed by hand by the artist, or signed "in stone," which means that the signature is part of the copy or print, and not by the artist. If it is a print, it maParrot(120933)Credit: The Beat Galleryy also be numbered. Look for low numbers, if it is not a modern, "giclee" print. A/P means "artist's proof" and is often desirable. The best historical reproductions, or prints, were often lithographs, and these older prints were  done in a process that actually used a piece of  stone for the print plate, many of which were signed, and can be quite beautiful with a lot of texture. The ownership history, or "provenance" of a work often affects its value and collectivity. The better the historical trail, the better it may be in proving its value.


If you know your budget, and the price you are willing to Bunkall printCredit: Beat Gallerypay, start in a low, mid-range, price that is below the actual value of the piece. That will give you room for adjustment should the bids go up by other interested parties. There are often buyers who may use a feature called, "auto-bid." We have lost a few artworks in that process, because their bid comes in at the last few seconds without warning. Stay patient. There will be another day, and another chance to purchase original art for your home!