How to Save Money When Buying Art

Have you ever desired a fantastic artwork, that you simply couldn’t afford? If so, this blog post is for you. Just because an art piece is above your price range, doesn’t mean you should immediately give up on it. There are many methods you can use to trim down the price and make sure it fits into your budget. Here are a few tips on how you can reduce the price of art, ranging from negotiating a discount to art commissions.



Unexperienced art buyers are often reluctant to inquire about a discount. However, if you are unable to afford a full price, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for a small reduction. Many galleries even expect a bit of negotiating. After all, it’s better to sell an art piece with a discount than not to sell it at all. Keep in mind, however, that discounts rarely cross a 10% threshold, particularly for first-time buyers. The discount may increase, if you are a recurrent customer, or if you are buying several pieces at once.

It’s important to mention right at the start, that some galleries don’t even offer discounts for first-time buyers. Also, for certain art pieces, the price is fixed and they are just not discountable. That particularly goes, for artworks that are already priced low, just to cover the price of production, where there’s not a lot of room for a price cut. Similar can be said for artworks that are already in high demand.


Andy Warhol Dollar print

Print by Andy Warhol


When it comes to art collecting, timing is important. Art sellers will be more willing to offer you a discount at the end of a gallery show, when the chances of selling the works get slimmer. So if you see something you can’t afford at the opening, try visiting a show a few days before it closes, and you might be able to negotiate a better price. You can use similar tactics on art fairs as well. The further along the fair, the more likely you are to get a discount.


Cut Down Additional Expenses

When purchasing an art piece, it’s important to remember that there are a lot of additional costs that will affect the price. Insurance, taxes, shipment, installation, import fees, etc. all contribute to the final price. Ask the gallery if they are willing to cover some of these additional expenses. Many art galleries, for instance, offer free shipping to their customers. Others will agree to cover framing costs or to arrange framing discounts. Sometimes galleries have deals with framers, enabling buyers to get a discount by mentioning the gallery’s name.

Another way to avoid shipment and customs fees is by buying art locally. Shipment fees vary based on the location, the size, the price of an artwork, the materials, etc. Usually, shipping can cost between 3-7% of the artwork’s price. Import duties also vary from one country to another.

Last year, for example, the US administration introduced a 25% import duty on works on paper made in the past 20 years, thus aggravating many collectors. In the UK, on the other hand, art is exempt from customs fees, leaving a 5% import tax as your only expense. To avoid these additional costs, focus on buying art from your area, and transport it yourself.


Commission a Similar (but more affordable) Piece

If even with the abovementioned strategies, the artwork is still out of your reach, you can always commission a piece similar to the one you can’t afford. Most artists are open for commissions and will be happy to make an art piece suited to your financial and other needs. Maybe you can order a smaller version of an artwork or a piece done in cheaper materials. You can work together with the artist, to ensure the art piece is just what you wanted, even if the exact copy is impossible due to technique or style.


Pink pig - saving money

The Other Side of the Coin

We know how stressful discussing the price with the gallery and art dealers can be. In these situations, it’s always good to remind yourself, that art sellers are there to make a deal, and will be willing to negotiate the price if they encounter a serious buyer. Hopefully, these tips will help you save some money, and acquire art you like.

Having said that, keep in mind that every time you negotiate a discount, the gallery and the artists lose out. So if you really want to support the artists, and can afford the piece, pay for the full price. Most artists need all the money they can get to invest in art supplies and pay their bills. After all, when you make a relationship with the artists, they will offer you various perks themselves, (from getting the first dibs on their new art to discounts, or even small gifts for major purchases).


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