• Claire Burke

How to give art as a gift

I listened to a discussion recently about buying art as a gift. I’ve been in the position myself in the past and it can be worrying: what if the recipient doesn’t love it like I do? what if I can’t afford it? what if it’s not quite what they were expecting? So I thought I'd offer some reassurance that actually its a lovely thing to consider (or to ask for ;) ) and how you could go about it.

As a newly full-time artist I’m effectively a small business now and we artists are as keen as the next business to facilitate your gift £, € and $ coming our way! Buying art now is easier than ever and there has never been more variety available to view. As well as individual artist websites (for when you know exactly what you’re looking for) there are traditional galleries (with online presence) and art marketplace websites like nuMonday, Artfinder and Etsy where search criteria can guide you.

For individual art-piece specific or artist-specific gifts there is more flexibility than you might think - again, like other businesses, we need to make purchasing easy and be imaginative about how we go about it. Here are some options you may not have realised that many artists might offer:

- ask to buy a gift certificate (this could be a 'print at home' voucher or an email that directs the recipient to the website or online shop of the artist whose work they love). This gives maximum choice to the recipient and if they can't quite afford something right now they can keep an eye out and maybe ask for top-up vouchers from other friends or family at a later date.

- arrange a meeting online or in person (within Covid-19 guidelines) for your recipient to browse pieces, meet the artist personally and talk about a purchase. This could be combined with a gift voucher or perhaps the two (or more) of you could make a day of it and arrange a Studio Visit alongside a nice lunch or country walk in a new area. This would make a great gift and there's no financial outlay at all - since March 2020 its been very difficult to talk meaningfully to interested folk about art (very limited exhibitions, art trails and open studios events have run their normal course) and I, for one, would love to welcome people back by arrangement, or get to know people on a Zoom or Facetime call.

- agree a ‘return for a swap’ or ‘return towards a commission’ arrangement if you can’t quite decide between a couple of options but know your recipient loves the artists work. If not seen in the flesh and bought purely online many artists will consider taking a piece back into stock you either just pay the return P&P or a small restocking fee.

- consider asking for a payment plan if the up front cost is too high but it’s what your recipient really loves.

- if price is a barrier ask the artist if they have prints or would consider having a print made.

One of the hardest things for an artist to achieve is exposure of their work to the people who enjoy it the most. Selling isn't always the end point, but sooner or later all artists need some validation that what they're doing is exciting or interesting, moving or pleasing, beautiful or thought-provoking. By engaging with artists about their work you will always help validate their pursuit of their craft and so please: if you feel like giving art, start the conversation, it will be greatly appreciated!

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