Where to buy art

two men looking at art outside
Jo Sharpe's art for sale at the Urban Art Fair

Where, what and how to go about buying art.

Thinking about buying a work of art?  Art can be expensive and on your walls for a long time. It is worth investing some time choosing the right piece. It can also be a great pleasure searching for it too.

There are many places where you can buy original art. You can go to local art exhibitions, galleries, contemporary art fairs, open studios or buy over the internet.

Buying art can give you a great return on your money, but also furnishing your home with original art shows creative flair and individuality. To develop an interest and ‘an eye’ for art, I suggest going regularly to art galleries and exhibitions. By doing this, you will learn to find a style you like and may discover an artist you may wish to invest in.

Why can art be expensive?

The price for some original art can be expensive and you may wonder why?

Painting and creating is the easy part of being an artist. If I sold every painting I created, I would be rich, but the reality is quite different. Making a living from being an artist is not at all easy. Most artists teach and juggle part-time jobs to subsidise their passion. 

Even great and successful artists may sell only a few original works a year and they are not necessarily priced according to how long they take to complete or how large they are. There are many other costs involved in producing a work of art and when you take into account the list below, artists quite often end up making a loss!

Hidden Costs

Materials, framing, studio space, stall hire/exhibition/art fairs (can be as much as £190 per linear metre plus VAT) are just some of the costs. Furthermore printing costs, photographer fees, insurance, competition entrance fees, petrol, postage and marketing are all commonplace artists expenditure.

Artists need to experiment, and behind every great artwork, there are often hundreds of drawings, failed paintings/artworks and experiments that got them there.

When an artist produces an original work of art, it comes from their heart and soul; it can be hard for them to let it go. They may also put higher price tags on those special works as they are ‘one off’s’ –  they know they may never create an artwork like that again. If they think it’s good – it probably is!

Gallery fees

If an artist has reached the dizzy heights of being represented by galleries, the galleries charge 35-50% commission to cover their costs (staff, rent marketing etc). The artist has to sell at the higher retails price as it would not be fair to undercut the gallery. 

Some artists may not raise their prices which means they are selling their work less 50%. When you take into account all their expenses, they are not making very much money.

seashore boat in distance
West Wittering - oil on canvas by Jo Sharpe

Where to buy art?

Open Studios/Houses

Open Studios are a great way of seeing a lot of talented and emerging artists in a small area. I take part in AOH Brighton and CAOS (Carshalton Artists Open Studios) every year.

Brighton Artist Open Houses takes place in Brighton and Hove every weekend in May. I exhibit at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Hove with 10 other artists on the Dyke trail. It is possible to get around at least 1-2 trails in a day so you would get to see a real variety of arts and crafts and artists.

CAOS are two of my favourite weekends in the calendar where up to 60 artists in Carshalton open their doors to the public. In a small South London village, you will see painters, printers, photographers, textile designers, ceramicists displaying their artworks for sale. 

I am looking forward to opening the door to my new studio in Oaks park alongside Ingrid who I share the studio with. Everyone is welcome. There will be opportunities to participate in workshops and it is such a great opportunity to see and buy a variety of art direct from the artists. Put the dates on the calendar now and make it an annual event. More information on CAOS can be found here.

Private Galleries

Galleries have different tastes and price brackets, so you need to visit them to research them and find one that’s right for you. If an artist is established, they may be represented by some galleries.
If you have found an artist you like, look up their exhibiting history and try and visit the gallery they exhibit with. You will probably like some of the other artists the gallery represents. The galleries are very happy to put you on their mailing lists and would invite you to private views.


Without doubt, more and more people are buying online. There are loads of different platforms. You can buy my oil paintings and prints online easily from my website. I am also online with Saatchi Art and in their catalogue of named artists for my still lifes and Art Finder. There are loads of platforms and websites to buy from and you can put in your price range, colours and style and see what you get.

Art Fairs

These are great places to buy art, as the curators of fairs have selected some of the best independent contemporary and emerging artists. At the fairs you can meet the artists and gallery owners and find out more about the works of art you are interested in and how they originated. This year I have exhibited with The Talented Art Fair and last year with Surrey Contemporary Art Fair.

painting of Carshalton lavender
Lavender - oil on canvas by Jo Sharpe

Support local artists

There are many types of artists. Most of those I know want to spend their time creating and they aren’t anything like as talented at selling and marketing! 

Hopefully the following points are some helpful tips on how you can support artists:

If you think an artist’s work is slightly overpriced or just outside your budget, perhaps make contact. Discuss how much you like their work and suggest a price you would be happy to pay. You never know!

Many galleries ‑ and some artists ‑ have payment plans available, enabling you to buy an artwork over several months.

Support the #just a card campaign. If you can’t afford the original, you can show support for the artist by buying just a card or a print. I have many prints for sale that are a great way to own an image that you love without buying an oil painting. Visit my shop to have a look.

Support artists you like with marketing. Follow them and share their posts on Facebook or Instagram. Encourage your friends to try out their workshops and enjoy a day out with you at Open Studios.

Support local shops that sell local art and crafts. Rather than buy a mass-produced artwork from Next or Ikea, try and buy or commission one from an artist. You may end up paying the same price but you are getting something that is special and you will be making an artist very happy!

I am passionate about art and also run art classes and workshops. I run regular art and STEAM classes for children as well as art workshops for adults. Click here to find out more/book these classes.