How to Buy Your First Piece at India Art Fair

Yes, we know. The art world can seem strange and intimidating. For those looking to make the leap, here are a few easy and essential tips to help you pick your first-ever artwork, be it for your bedroom, office or a friend!

First things first, you don’t have to have a huge bank balance to buy art. You can start small, with works by a young contemporary artist whom you have loved and admired on say Instagram, or by simply enquiring about an artwork that caught your eye at India Art Fair. If you’re interested in looking more or starting to buy art, look no further. We are guiding you through the whats, hows and wheres to get you started on your collecting journey. Watch out, it can be addictive.

Where do I start?

Go and see as much art as you can. Our IAF Parallel programme offers first-time buyers an excellent opportunity to discover exhibitions across India’s most exciting galleries and museums, perfect for anyone who wants to learn as much as possible South Asian art. Ahead of the fair, you can also visit IAF Stories to read interviews with leading contemporary South Asian artists and watch films that go behind-the-scenes in their studios. Doing your research is the best way to learn about what kind of art you actually like, which is the first (and only!) thing you need to know about collecting.

Where can I get more information about artworks?

When you visit the fair, don’t hesitate to speak to gallerists. They are the resident experts on the artworks they’re exhibiting, and will be delighted to answer any queries regarding an artwork, from the logistics of making a purchase — like framing, installation, and transport — to the philosophical underpinnings of the artist’s practice. See the fair as an opportunity to tap into their expertise, and gain fresh insight into contemporary art. You can even write to them on their official email, or follow their social media to stay updated about exhibitions and their artists.

How big should a work be?

When it comes to bagging your first piece at India Art Fair, there is no strict rule regarding size. Consider where you intend to hang your artwork; a piece that fits in your sitting room might be lost in a bigger space, like an office foyer or a shared building. Here, there’s scope to display dramatic pieces, such as a large textile work by Boshudhara Mukherjee or an oil on canvas by Divya Singh.

Many starting their collection tend to opt for smaller work, but don’t make the beginner’s mistake of assuming that there’s always a correlation between size and price. While a small work by an artist as iconic as M.F. Husain could burn a sizeable hole in your wallet, a larger work by an up-and-coming artist might fit comfortably in a tighter budget.

Bear in mind that other factors — from the rarity of the artwork, the artist’s career and art world recognition and market demand — can be much better indicators of price than size.

What type of work should I collect?

Your first artwork could be anything from sculpture to painting, print, drawing or installation piece, and India Art Fair is the perfect place to discover a wide variety of art forms. Size and space again raise important questions for any young collector, but with endless creative possibilities for placement, choosing to buy a sculpture or installation over a painting should ultimately come down to a matter of taste.

Oh, and what about the budget?

The fair offers an eclectic range of works across a spectrum of budgets, starting from around Rs.10,000 for art prints of major modernist works by Archer Art Gallery to Rs. 50,000 to 70,000 for a piece by an emerging talent like Waleed Zafar, Yogesh Ramkrishna or Zarrin Fatima Shamsi making their art fair debut. There will also be digital and NFT artists on view brought by Terrain.art by artists like Amrit Pal Singh. Galleries accept payments in instalments, as well as through cheque, credit and debit cards. Buy artist books, zines or folios at the bookshop if you’re looking for an affordable original work.

How do I get my artwork home?

Concerned about fitting a large metal sculpture in the boot of your car, or traveling with a fragile ceramic piece by Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran? Fear not — our gallerists are here to help you with everything from packing to transportation! However, do ask them to set out all the additional costs before you buy. Delivery and taxes can be extra expenses, so be sure to budget for them.

Interested in learning more? Register for our new and exciting Young Collectors Programme by filling this form, or  get in touch by writing to youngcollectorsprogramme@indiaartfair.in.