... Collectors  •  Advice for...

Pros and Cons of Buying Art Online VS at a Traditional Art Gallery

Buying art online has never been more popular with online galleries, virtual exhibitions and online art auctions. The digital sales surge is ever-increasing and is here to stay. Since COVID-19, our attitudes have significantly changed, as collectors no longer expect to see an artwork in three dimensions before making the purchase. The e-commerce market has become the new normal. Collectors expect a wider range of options and prices, which online art galleries are offering in order to satisfy this growing demand.

The buyer experience is no longer the same, whether we are looking at the client’s interaction with the artwork or with the gallery itself. Does this mean that art collectors are no longer excited by traditional galleries because they feel online galleries have more to offer? Or can both traditional and online galleries coexist peacefully, with undeniable pros and cons to balance each other out? Together, let us have a look at what is being accomplished and what is lacking in both online and traditional galleries.

Pros of buying art online

  • One of the biggest advantages of buying art online is how convenient and time-saving it is. Buying art online requires little to no effort for clients. No need to make the trip to the gallery: it is the gallery that comes directly to you! In just a few clicks and in the comfort of your own home, you can become the proud owner of an artwork. At SINGULART, we take care of shipping the artwork to you, while you can sit back and relax. What’s not to like?
  • Online art galleries offer a wider selection of artworks than traditional galleries, with different pricing options, styles, mediums and artists. With over 12,000 artists and designers and more than 600,000 artworks for sale, SINGULART online gallery is the number one global destination for contemporary art. Clients feel freer to make an informed decision which doesn’t require them to commit to buying a piece immediately. 
  • Transparency is another important factor to take into account. Online galleries are more likely to display information about the artist and the artwork, which allows clients to gather as much information as needed before making a purchase, while making the overall buying experience more personal and straightforward.

Cons of buying art online

  • This is not to say that online galleries are perfect! With online galleries, there is a lack of physical inspection as everything is delocalised. Clients rely mostly on pictures and descriptions of the artwork when browsing the gallery’s website. Pictures need to be of the highest quality for clients to form a proper opinion of the texture, color and scale of the artwork to avoid any confusion.
  • As stated earlier, online galleries are in charge of organizing the shipping of artworks to clients. Artworks shipped internationally will sometimes be faced with delays (mostly because of the weather). 
  • Even though galleries provide a lot of information about the artists they represent, there is less interaction between the artist and the buyer, which is something you find less in traditional galleries, where visitors can drop by and chat with the gallerist and the artists. 

Pros of buying art at a traditional gallery

  • Traditional art galleries are still very popular today, and for good reason. The number one factor is the opportunity they provide for interaction between gallery staff and clients. This creates a more personalized experience and a strong bond between clients and gallery.
  • Traditional galleries enable clients to inspect an artwork’s formal elements fairly closely before making a purchase. Clients get a better feel of whether or not they like the artwork and want to acquire it.
  • Access to valuable networking opportunities is another asset of traditional galleries. Ambitious artists can discuss with art dealers, collectors and art enthusiasts at exhibition openings and other events, which can lead to making connections with the right people and achieving beneficial outcomes.

Cons of buying art at a traditional gallery

  • Traditional galleries are not without flaws and they have their fair share of disadvantages. As opposed to online galleries, they have a limited selection of artworks and artists, generally specializing in one art movement or style. The price range is most often quite high and with few affordable options.
  • Traditional galleries are more time and energy consuming than online galleries, as you need to make travel arrangements and carve time out of your schedule, which can be troublesome if you live far away from the gallery.
  • Clients often feel more pressured to make a purchase in a traditional gallery, which may result in regretting the decision, whereas when buying art online, clients feel more comfortable making an informed decision, which they are less likely to feel any remorse about.

The best of both worlds 

There is no black and white answer to the question of whether or not traditional or online galleries are better. They both have pros and cons, and reflect buyers’ concerns, shifting perspectives and new consumption models. Only time will tell if online galleries will outweigh traditional galleries. For now, the legacy of traditional galleries still stands strong, and clients are able to pick and choose from a variety of choices according to their needs. At the end of the day, it all depends on your personal tastes and preferences. Do your research and choose a reputable gallery to ensure a positive buyer experience.