As for the majority of products nowadays, art has found its place in the online market; both independent artists and affirmed art companies are using digital platforms to reach their customers and to find new ones. Depop, Facebook, Instagram or Etsy are only a few of the platforms that offer the possibility to build a personal business and start selling all kind of items. But how safe it really is to buy artwork on the internet?
It is quite easy to fall victims of online scams, since the way it works is usually that the payment comes first than the products in itself, which we are only able to see when we actually receive it; but there are a few steps we can take in order to protect ourselves in some measure:
1. Check the authenticity of art you wish to purchase: always make sure any piece of art you intend to spend money for comes with a certificate of authenticity, that is a reassurance that you are not purchasing counterfeit or fake art. If it is not explicitly mentioned in the description of the item, you may want to contact the seller to ask about it.
2. Shipping method and taxes: depending on where the product comes from and where you are buying from, there may be some different rules and costs about shipping and taxes, such as customs. It is useful to look for the shipping and delivery policy before spending any money at all, just to be sure you won’t have to add expenses later on during checkout.
3. Get to know who you are buying from: It is likely that the website you are using, will have a section for artists and sellers to provide a description of themselves, maybe including their social media profiles for example. Visiting independent artists’ networks is always a good idea to better understand who they are, if they have a new style of painting, what they can offer, and what comments tell about their reputation as sellers. A curated website will add selective artworks from a reputed and professional artist. Hence, going through brands that have a curated collection is a better option in comparison to open marketplaces. Ex: The Connoisseur curates artworks from their partner galleries and artists to offer an exclusive selection from top & emerging artists.
4. Online payments: buying artwork online means sending our money to someone we don’t see, but we have to trust. It is then important to check what payments methods are offered by the seller or the website, and whether it is Paypal or credit and debit card, make sure a secure payment system is guaranteed. They are usually displayed at the moment of the payment or below the information section for that item.
5. SSL Certificate: many people do not even know what this is, but it is important to verify its validity. The certificate protects your communication within the website and on the web browser you are using, and enables an encrypted connection, to avoid any stealing of your data. If you decide to buy your wall paintings online, always check and ask about the presence of an SSL certificate, to protect yourself and your conversations.
6. Layout of the artwork product page: the image does its part in convincing us to trust and buy from that particular website. When looking at any item online, especially a painting, ask yourself some questions: Are the colours truthful? Is there the possibility to zoom? All these elements are often an indicator of professionality of the brand. Who would buy any type of artwork from someone who cannot even provide high-quality pictures of it?
7. Website Interface: besides the reputation of the site, what pushes people to make a choice in its favour is the convenience they find in navigating through it. If it results to be labyrinthine and confusing, the effect is likely to be discouraging to customers. Look at THE CONNOISSEUR original paintings section for example - simple, clean and linear interface, which allows to easily make researches and insert filters to select preferences.
8. Art experts recommendations: if you are an art fan, who is always on the search for new and innovative pieces, why don’t get in contact with experts of this field, maybe by following them on social media, or reading their articles online, in order to discover niche art websites which are less frequented by common customers, but may hide authentic gems for who knows where to look. Get in touch with the website and ask for certain recommendations based on your budget & theme.
With the current disruptions in the industry, it seems that online art sector is bound to boom exponentially in the long run. On the Internet, it is easy to find very good offers for artwork and even prestigious pieces, but be cautious with who you trust and pay because it is just as easy to be victims of fraud. Whether it is to purchase nice wall paintings or to support an independent and local artist who have started their own art business, following these simple steps, and paying attention to what you are doing online can prevent so many annoying situations. Do not fear of purchasing original art online, just be aware of how it works. Enjoy art!
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Article written by: Cinzia Appetecchia
Cinzia is currently studying BA in Media, Journalism & Culture from Cardiff University, UK. She is curious to explore innovative styles & forms of fashion. Lately, she has developed a strong interest in art & literature and wishes to learn more on it.