Bad experiences buying art online?

By Ron Mulvey

What is the greatest fear related to buying art online?

Sending money to a stranger and getting ripped off? Being disappointed with the true product when it arrives at our door? Not really knowing whether the dimensions will fit our walls or whether the colours will match the rest of our house or office? And then being stuck with a giant picture–wondering if the artist wouldn’t be terribly upset if we asked for our money back?

Obviously, artists like myself are biased when it comes to encouraging people to buy art online. But I think the real fear isn’t any of those questions above–the real fear is that we have never done it before. It’s new.

For what it is worth, here is an artist’s take on why buying art online is advantageous to both buyers and sellers.

You pay less for art online

Most art galleries know that they need to somehow adopt to the growing amount of artists trying to sell their art on websites–rather than in galleries. And so, they advise buyers to go search out a particular artist online by a gallery and then report back to them to see and possibly purchase that online painting at their gallery. Comissions are added onto the price ranging from 40% to 60%  and you walk out with your painting,  feeling safe secure and satisfied.

Galleries still want to be the centre of the art trade. But in five or ten years, people will simply become more comfortable buying online. For example, I never thought anyone would buy clothes online. You need to try on a sweater or shirt before you buy, right? But online clothes retailers like J Crew are showing that younger generations don’t have the same objections to online shopping as many Baby Boomers. My daughter regularly buys sweaters, blouses, and even boots online. And really, it’s not much different than how we have shopped and purchased with catalogues for the last 100 or so years.

In other words, the biggest objection to buying art online is that you won’t like the painting when you receive it in the mail. And, as online retailers know, this is best answered by a strong, fair return policy which puts the extra cost on the seller. People will never buy online if they don’t feel like they have the freedom to change their mind once the product arrives in the mail. And that means that the seller must take on the responsibility of risk and the seller must absorb the costs associated with that return.

Artists need to do the same–if the customer isn’t satisfied when the painting arrives, then they should be able to ship it back, get a refund, and pay nothing for the inconvenience.

That’s because the worst fear of buying art online is that you are making a large purchase decision. You want to make sure you make the right choice and not buy something you regret. By the seller assuming the risk and offering strong refunds, then it is just a much more pleasant, comfortable experience for the customer.

You get to know the artist better

If this were a traditional gallery, you’d never get to see much of the artist. With online sales, artists like me have to prove we are human with blogs. You have to interact with the customers, talk about your own work, and even pick up the phone.

I find this very rewarding. Nothing fuels an artist like an audience. And I think that customers appreciate this as well. The web is making the world smaller, not bigger.

Payment is secure

As most artists aren’t web developers, they rely on 3rd party payment systems like Paypal. These are very secure. It really is no different in terms of risk than giving your credit card to the clerk at the grocery store.

You can ask directly

With email, you can always get rid of any other objections simply by asking. If you have any questions, please contact me <>. I really will personally respond and back all my paintings with a 90 day full-refund policy. I will also refund you the cost of shipping the art back if you aren’t completely happy with your painting.

And then even send you a free little framed sketch for your trouble. Because a happy customer, even if they return a purchase from time to time, is always the best marketing.

About Ron

Ron is a contemporary landscape artist. You can view and buy his landscape paintings in his online art gallery.

Never bought art online before? Ron offers beautiful, original landscape paintings for just $40. You can view and order these small paintings here.

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