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9 min read

Let us remind you that it is perfectly reasonable to feel uncertain about art. Try to leave prejudices and preconceptions at home, and instead allow yourself to be inspired. Dare to trust your feelings, lose yourself in the fine details of the art, take in the entirety, look around, ask questions, feel and buy what appeals to you and allows you to.

It would be an unreasonable demand for art to always appeal to everyone in all situations.

Today, there are fantastic platforms online and in the real world to familiarize yourself with the art scene and our time's most exciting artists.

Are you feeling tempted to start buying contemporary art? Here we collect some simple tips on things that can be good to know in such cases. Who isn't eager to discover our next Ernst Billgren?


Traditionally, a gallery has ten to twenty artists associated with it. They market and mediate art for these artists.

Many gallerists and artists follow each other throughout life and build a career together. Most galleries operate on the primary market. From these galleries, you buy new art at a fixed price.

When you buy from a gallery, normally half of the money goes to the gallerist and half to the artist.

Some galleries have close relationships with art collectors, and it is not uncommon for loyalty to develop, where collectors buy most of their art through a few galleries. The gallerist becomes a door opener and guide in the art world in this way.

A gallery has regular art exhibitions in its premises, which start with a vernissage where everyone is welcome. There are also activities such as closing parties and artist talks during the exhibitions to create relevance and curiosity.

Art is not exhibited just for people to see it. It is meant to be sold.

Auction Houses

The majority of all items sold through auction houses go for under a thousand crowns. But in a few cases, prices can soar if demand is high.

Auction houses operate on the secondary market, and when buying at an auction, it is good to know that, in addition to a buyer's premium (often around 20 percent), there is a fee called droit de suite (artist fee).

Art Dealers

An art dealer buys and sells art on the secondary market, but unlike auction houses, they work at a fixed price. Many art dealers also arrange exhibitions, like a gallery, but these are almost always done without the artist's involvement.

However, the art industry is changing, and new players have recently emerged on the market, which look more like a kind of hybrid of gallery and art dealer.

Art Fairs

Art fairs bring together several galleries under one roof, for a limited period. Art fairs can be a good and convenient place to get an overview of different artists and what's happening right now.

The participating galleries are often determined by an exhibition committee that selects the galleries that are allowed to participate (but even if you are selected, it is not free to participate).

At the largest international fairs, galleries show their trophy artworks because they know that many of the world's elite, collectors, curators, and museum directors are present. In addition to Art Basel, Frieze, Armory Show, and Fiac are considered important fairs. In the Nordic region, the Danish ChArt is the most popular, followed by Market Art Fair in Stockholm.

Alongside the major fairs, there are often smaller fairs that show less established art. There, you can find tomorrow's stars before their prices have taken off.

Art advisors

For frequent art buyers who feel they lack time, art advisors exist. These advisors suggest purchases, negotiate terms, help build collections or advise on additions to existing collections for both individuals and companies.

These advisors are available as independent firms, but they are also offered through established financial advisors such as Carnegie and Deutsche Bank.

Buying directly from the artist

In some cases, it is possible to buy directly from the artist, for example, if they do not collaborate with a gallery. For a confident buyer who knows what they are looking for, it can be a compliment, but for a new collector, it can be time-consuming and tricky to separate the wheat from the chaff.

We see an increased interest among many buyers to visit the artist in their own environment, which can be more personal.


Art purchases online are increasing rapidly. The development is not driven by the galleries themselves but by new actors who see an opportunity to complement the physical experience.

Today, new actors appear from time to time who see opportunities in the fact that the internet has not yet had its full effect on the art scene. The question is not if, but when, we will sit at home on the couch and click home an artwork from an artist or gallery as naturally as if we were auction hunting or picking up this week's groceries.

The world's largest and most credible actor on the internet today is the American Artsy. However, the company has not yet made a significant mark beyond the already art-interested audience.

Check out artists at art schools

The earlier you discover a future star, the more exciting. There were not many people who dared to bet on Facebook at an early stage, but those who did have a fun story to tell their friends today.

Art by young artists generally costs less than established colleagues. If the artist is later also caught by a gallery, the price almost always goes up.

A good way to get in touch with young talents is to visit the art schools. They arrange ongoing exhibitions and collect graduates at the end of the year in an exhibition.

Limited edition or not?

A unique work usually costs more than a work in a limited edition. If you strive to become a recognized collector or see your art as an investment, you should invest in what is unique or exists in a few copies.

Be bold

Do not wait for the art to appear in some interior design magazine or on some influencer's "must-have" list. Dare to try and trust your gut feeling.

If you fall for the artwork, have enough money, and feel comfortable with the artist or gallery, go for it! Or as the world's leading gallerist, Larry Gagosian says: "You snooze, you lose!".

Buy the "right" art

Buying the best works is easier said than done. If you are unsure, ask the gallery owner, artist, or someone you trust. The artwork that is depicted on the invitation card to the opening is often the artist's favourite.

Avoid buying editions. They also reduce your chance of being alone in the world with just your artwork. That feeling is pretty cool and perhaps the top of uniqueness.

Global vs. local

In terms of size, Sweden has a high-quality art scene, with artists, galleries, institutions, and collectors. However, debated art requires arenas with a large audience and enthusiastic supporters. Therefore, the chance of finding the next generation of Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, and Ai Weiwei is, of course, greater in cities like London, New York, or Shanghai.

It may also be the case that a geographic connection appeals to you. Perhaps you feel more enthusiastic about supporting local artists. Or on the other hand, it feels more interesting to look beyond what is close by.

Artist CV

Check the CV. Pay attention to whether the artist is represented in museum collections.

In Sweden, Moderna Museet and Magasin III are considered the most important. Internationally, the Venice Biennale, MoMA, and Documenta carry weight. Another quality guarantee is if the artist in question has received grants or art prizes. If the artist is represented by a gallery, it usually adds weight and significance.

The more of the above, the better.

How do I know if it's authentic?

Swedish contemporary art is thankfully largely free of forgeries. Of course, there are exceptions, and a degree of skepticism is healthy. Feel free to ask the control question: Is this reasonable? If the answer is no, avoid it.

Many famous artists' works are documented in a catalogue raisonné. In contemporary art, galleries and auction houses have a good handle on this. If the artist is still alive, it is also possible to turn to them for confirmation. A rule of thumb is to only buy from established actors, as this minimizes the risk of buying a dud.


Sure, it's possible to make money on art, but it's difficult and comes with significant risks. If it's money you're after, there are much safer and more liquid investment forms to deal with. If you still want to collect with a focus on return, the best advice is to buy key works by good international artists and hold onto them for as long as possible. Historically, international quality art has done well and seems to have no upper price limit.


Payment is made after the exhibition or auction. In most cases, you can choose how you prefer to pay - invoice, Swish, card, and even installment payments are usually offered.

If you buy directly from the artist, you can expect an invoice, as they rarely have digital payment solutions.

Make sure you get a proper receipt/settlement for the purchase. Details such as date, VAT, and net amount should be included.

Bringing the work home

A dear and fragile artwork needs to be taken care of properly. Taking it under your arm and walking home gives a lovely feeling, but may not be such a good idea for unwieldy works. Call an art handler and don't forget to confirm the insurance. If you buy through a reputable art gallery, they should be able to help arrange this.

Installation and hanging

Both art handlers and specialists can help with the installation of the art. But don't leave it entirely in someone else's hands. It may be good to review how it is placed, lit, framed, and surrounded. It affects the overall experience. Don't hang it in direct sunlight.


Most reputable galleries can take back works if you change your mind, but check what applies before you buy.

If you buy online, you have the right to a 14-day return policy under the Distance Selling Act, provided you have not caused any damage to the artwork.

Selling your own artwork

As a collector, it may well happen that you want to sell some works. Perhaps you want to change the focus of your collection or you need funds for new purchases. This is not always looked upon favorably in the art world. The collector with the highest status only buys and builds up their growing collection.

(Header image: Nygårds Karin Bengtsson )