Art buying tips from the top North West experts

Don't be afraid to invest in an artwork, it could be the best thing you ever do

Why should buying a piece of art be scarier than say, buying a Hermes Birkin? Yet there is still this aura surrounding galleries and artworks that makes the novice collector feel a bit out of their depth. After all, more than anything else a painting can say so much about you. Whether you’re ‘cool’ or have an ‘eye’, or have risible taste. But is there really a right or wrong in buying art? Jack Vettriano may be sneered at by the cognoscenti but his works tellingly valuable. Matisse, Picasso, Van Gough, were all derided by the critics and now their art is worth millions.

The Buy Art Fair comes to Manchester from October 28th-31st at Spinningfield Manchester and is the perfect way to navigate a path through the artworld via its 7,000 exhibitors, talks and events. Here you can meet the collectors, the artists and even the critics and get a feel for what you love.

You can also hit the local galleries for free and sound advice. These are people who not only make a living out of art, they are committed to their artists and their clients and though they’ll never promise it, they may even make you money.

For example, Martin heaps of Collect Art in Lymm says you could have bought a work by artist Geoffrey Key for around �2,00 just a few years ago.

‘The same work would be �7,000 now and he’s an artist who hasn’t yet reached his potential. The feeling is he’s undervalued at the moment and in the future the same work could be worth as much as �20,000-�25,000.’

Alex SharpThe Watergate Street Gallery, Chester. Tel: 01244 345698

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1. You should only buy a piece of art because you love it and really want it not because you have been told supposedly that it is a good investment.

2. If you can afford to buy an original then always do so. If not then make sure it is a signed limited edition from a low print run.

3. Having said that, a sound investment that you will love and a fascinating and intriguing story is that of the late David Wilde (1918 - 1978) who exhibited with Dali and Picasso and was in the same Manchester circles as Blake and Lowry. His work has been in a wardrobe since 1978 and is as fresh today as it was then. An exceptional prospective investment opportunity and a little piece of unknown art history. So last tip is buy a piece of art history if ever you can.Colin JellicoeCollin Jellicoe Gallery, ManchesterTel: 0161 236 2716

1.  All I tell people is just buy what you like, this is the main thing, don’t do it to make money because nobody knows what will happen, these things go up and down in price all the time.

2. If you do find a piece of art and it is out of your budget, don’t be afraid to haggle. People horse-trade all the time.

3. Don’t be afraid of buying art. Lesley Waddington, who had three big galleries in Cork Street, London, selling paintings by the likes of Picasso and Matisse once said we’re all just shops. We’re selling, that’s all we’re doing, it’s just selling at a higher level.

Joanna Cole Joanna Cole Fine Art C20 British & European Paintings t: 01625 267 634

If you have found a work you simply love by a particular artist

1. Do your research. Who is the artist, when did he live? What organisations or groups did he belong to? Did he exhibit? Are there works in museums? Is he well listed in art reference dictionaries? Are there books on him? And search the internet for other galleries who stock his work to enable you to make comparisons.

2. Provenance and Condition: Provenance is the history of ownership of the picture and can help the value. Have a very good look at the back of the picture and the frame it can tell you an awful lot, there could be an artist’s address, dealer labels, title of the picture, exhibition numbers, auction markings, previous owner’s names and addresses - some pictures have so many labels they look like old suitcases!

Condition is important - is it in completely original, untouched condition and just needs a light clean? Are there scratches and paint missing or lifting? Holes or tears and repairs? Has it been lined (if it’s an oil) - would be nice to know - has it been heavily restored? Is it in its original frame, these can sometimes be made by the artist themselves. Watch out for foxing on watercolours (little brown dots on paper), creases in paper and fading of colour - all these things affect the price.

3. Consider the price: Size, medium (oils are more expensive, pastel and watercolours cheaper) and subject matter also affect the price. Compare prices by going to shows, exhibitions, galleries, auction houses and search the internet for online galleries who don’t have the same overheads. Don’t be afraid to haggle it’s no different to buying a house or car. However, if you find a piece that floats your boat, buy it, because you only get the one chance at owning an original work of art. You are better off spending more on one piece than buying two second-rate works.

Martin HeapsCollect Art, LymmTel: 01925 602 621

1. If you can afford it, always buy an oil painting because artists always work in oils and watercolours are always worth half the price and they have the potential to fade if you put them in the wrong place.

2. Buy a name. There are three or four galleries in the north west that are good to buy from because they have dealt with certain artists for a long time and if you are going to spend a few thousand pounds you want to make sure that it’s not someone that is going to fade into obscurity, also be aware that the subject is important, some artists sell more of one subject than another.

3. Before you buy go on the website and do a visual search, check out the names of any paintings you like and then Google the name to find a Bonham’s or Christie’s result, thatwill give you a feel of what a painting is worth.

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