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Tips on Buying Art as a Gift

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TommL via Getty Images
TommL via Getty Images

The thought of giving artwork as a gift may seem daunting (and make you cringe), but how many times have you seen a piece of art, and thought, wow, that would be perfect for so-and-so.

Or maybe you've seen a photograph and immediately known the individual who would appreciate it and love to have it in their home.

Truth be told, it may seem presumptuous to think that you can choose a piece of art on behalf of the recipient, but done successfully it can be a lovely gesture.

Art can be a wonderful gift for any occasion whether it is a baby shower, wedding gift or a "thank you" for a nice stay at the cottage (Does your child have a favorite teacher? Great gift!).

It's quite a compliment that you thought enough of that person that you ventured into that art buying territory, no? Again, can be scary, but personal and worth the effort.

So whether you wish to add to a loved one's art collection, or maybe start one for your friend, keep in mind a few helpful tips to keep you in line:

1. Stay Small! It's easier for someone to live with and find that perfect place for a small sized piece of art. The lucky recipient can always find a spot for it, be it by a bedside, or leaned gently on a bookshelf. Larger scale artwork can be a bit too imposing, both with your taste as well as physically in someone else's space.

2. Buy for their taste, not yours. It's always surprising when one doesn't give a certain gift, even when they know that the person would love it! Wedding registries are laden with unattractive gifts that you might hate to give, but get over it! It's not for you, it's for the couple who loved it and registered for it!

3. When considering buying art for a baby gift, try to pick something that the child can grow with and appreciate throughout different stages. Try to stay away from the "too cute" baby themed art; go for something with more longevity.

4. It's always nice to know if the recipient has any specific interests, but don't get caught up with being too particular. For instance, just because the receiver likes dancing, it doesn't mean that you should be buying a painting with dancers in it. Try not to be too concerned with this as it's terribly limiting.

5. The gift doesn't need to have a theme at all. If you're thinking that it's a wedding gift you're after, and it should have a 'love' theme, again you will be limited. Try to think outside of the box and consider a beautiful landscape or something that appeals to a future together which opens the options quite a lot (a landscape or waterscape are lovely and can have significance as well).

6. Be brave and go with your instinct. Nine times out of 10 you'll always come back to that option which was your first choice. It always happens. Don't fight it (but look around anyway to satisfy yourself that you looked hard).

7. To help guide you a little bit, try to think about what the recipient has in their home in terms of style. Do they tend to go for more vintage furniture or contemporary? It's not always the case, but sometimes this will help gauge their taste in art. A good clue might be to investigate the colour palette they have used in their home (painted walls). For instance, if they have a red wall in their dining room, then you're probably safe with art that has warm tones (or has red in it!). Any artworks they may have commented on in your home can give you an idea of what they might like as well.

8. Do not get too many opinions on the gift! Everyone has different tastes and certainly different opinions. Don't allow yourself to become overwhelmed with everyone's input. Buy it and stand firm.

9. You don't always have to present the recipient with a finished framed piece of art. There is nothing wrong with giving an unframed canvas or paper work. Perfectly acceptable as it still shows thought and perhaps the person will want to leave that canvas unframed anyway!

10. If you still can't find that perfect gift of art, but still want to give art as a gift, then consider a gift certificate. Most galleries will be happy to give a gift certificate which usually has no expiry date. It's always a nice gesture to give one and offer to make it a date for you and the recipient to go to the gallery together to choose something they'll like (hey, make a lunch date out of it too!).

11. Lastly, make sure that the gallery will let you exchange the gift just in case they want something different. It never bothers me when a gift I've bought is returned. As long as the recipient is happy with the end result, then you should be happy too!

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