Online art gallery owner, Liz Hawkes from Watermark Gallery, gives 8 top tips on How to Buy Art Online as a Gift

Soft Snow, Pastel, Charcoal and Graphite on Paper, by Janine Baldwin

Soft Snow, Pastel, Charcoal and Graphite on Paper, by Janine Baldwin

This week we were delighted to sell an original drawing by Pastel Society member, Janine Baldwin, as a wedding gift. Knowing they liked art, the groom’s parents offered to buy the happy couple an original piece. Following research online, they chose “Soft Snow” (pictured above) in pastel, charcoal and graphite.

On the same day we delivered another painting, Midnight Flowers, an original painting, by Jane Askey, bought as an anniversary gift from husband to wife. And a week previously, a signed, limited edition, giclee print “Persephone”, by Jane Ray, as a present for a new Goddaughter.

Midnight Flowers, Jane Askey

Midnight Flowers by Jane Askey in gouache and acrylic

It is great for us to see an increasing trend in discerning gift buyers looking to buy quality art online. Special occasions do indeed require a thoughtful gift and with the increase in the number of galleries now selling online there’s certainly plenty to choose from that won’t necessarily break the bank.

Original artworks, particularly those on paper; watercolours, prints, drawings and photographs offer a great investment at a genuinely affordable price. Here at Watermark Gallery limited edition prints start at around £100 and original watercolours and drawings for less than £500. With the average UK guest now spending £432 on a wedding, of which £85 is spent on a gift*, it doesn’t take many people to club together to buy an artwork that is truly memorable and worthwhile.

The big question is, how do you know what to buy. How do you avoid falling in to the trap of buying something the recipient just can’t stand, but then feels they have to display every time you visit?

Here are eight top tips to buying art as a present online:

  1. Look for the style clues. Always consider the recipient’s style and taste. Are they traditional people, vintage or retro enthusiasts or do they prefer clean, modern living.
Moon and Striped Vase, Limited edition linocut by Jane Walker

A popular choice with those moving house; Moon and Striped Vase, a limited edition linocut by Jane Walker Printmaker, £345

2. Consider the connections. Art that has a personal link with a particular memory, place of interest or pastime is always a thoughtful choice.

Low Tide at Porthgain, Bernard Cheese, lithograph

Low Tide at Porthgain, Prembrokeshire, a lithograph by Bernard Cheese, £595

3. Colour is one of the most important factors when choosing art. One of our most popular artworks is an 11-colour screen print called Golden II by Lisa Stubbs, featuring bright yellow daffodils. Generally speaking, people choose artworks that will fit a particular colour scheme at home. Those who dress in colourful clothes tend to like bold and colourful artworks too. And without a doubt paintings featuring strong hues of blue are always a safe bet.

Golden 2 Lisa Stubbs

Golden II; a Screen Print by Lisa Stubbs, £125 unframed.

4. Never buy an artwork that is too big. Large artworks tend to be statement pieces and can be difficult to accommodate whereas smaller pieces are easier to fit in.

5. Consider an unframed work. Buying a work of art that is glazed and framed is not only cheaper and easier to transport, but it allows the recipient to make their own choice of frame.

6. Don’t forget children’s book illustration. Buying an original work of art or limited edition print by a children’s illustrator is a great present for children or expectant parents. Works are quite often accompanied by a free, signed copy of the book. Many artists retain the rights to their illustrations and are only too pleased to sell the original works, which are often highly visual, colourful, amusing as well as a great investment.

A limited edition screen print by children's author and illustrator, Helen Stephens

A limited edition screen print by Helen Stephens, children’s author and illustrator of “How to Hide a Lion”, £200 unframed.

7. Ask for help. If you’re buying art for the first time don’t be afraid to ask for expert advice. Gallery owners can give you full information on each artist, the type of customers who like their work and any new works coming up. They will be only too pleased to help source the right gift and may steer you away from an expensive mistake.

8. If in doubt, buy a voucher. Most galleries will be happy to produce an attractive voucher giving the most flexible option for the recipient to choose an artist and work of their choice.

For more help buying art as a special gift please contact Watermark Gallery on 01765 676600.

* source: Financial Times, May 2017.