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Staying Safe when Buying Artwork Online

A guide by Michelle Gibbs, from Art2Arts


“From not getting what you purchased, to receiving fakes or poor-quality pieces, online customers are at risk of not getting the care and attention they deserve.”

As the director of Art2Arts, my job is to oversee the smooth running of the website and to ensure both customers and artists are happy. I’m an artist myself – I have a particular interest in the sky and fleeting cloud formations – my paintings have sold online and can be found in private collections internationally.

The internet has opened up the market for selling art, for me and for almost anyone, helping buyers acquire original pieces directly from artists. Unfortunately, this means the rise in online scams also increased.

From not getting what you purchased, to receiving fakes or poor-quality pieces, customers are often at risk of exposure to fraud, and without a personal contact at a gallery, not getting the care and attention they deserve. 

There are few signs to look out for to be sure that what you are buying is genuine:

Is the website secure?

The first sign to look for when coming across an online gallery is the padlock icon in the address bar, and whether the website has an address starting with “https:\\”.

The presence of both means that the website has the SSL protocol, therefore the website is secure, the connection is encrypted which protects personal data transferred between you and the site, and you can also find out who owns the site by clicking on the icon.

If you come across a website without these security requirements, don’t trust it with your bank details as it may not be safe.

Does the website have a good reputation?

Once you’ve checked the website’s security credentials, it is worth looking at their feedback. Look at both positive as well as negative feedback from customers, and how the website handles the latter. If there are links to a third-party review site like Trustpilot, even better.

Take some time to read reviews from customers before buying, this will help manage your expectations about different elements of the services offered and allow you to make an informed decision.

Affordable auction sites

It is OK to look for affordable alternatives when buying art online, so auction sites could be one of the first options that comes to mind.

While some of them may be genuine (for example AucArt), others are notorious for selling fake art or poor-quality pieces. Once the seller takes your money, they disappear from the platform, only to reappear later under a different name.

Artists do sell their art by online auction, so it is worth researching their profile, their work and their social media presence. Look for signs of a long-term profile, quality photography of their work, and references to them on other platforms before you decide to buy.

Getting in touch with them directly to express interest in them and their work is also a great way to get a feel for whether you’re dealing with an authentic profile.

By Michelle Gibbs

About Art2Arts

Art2Arts is an online gallery that has been selling artwork online for over twelve years.

They have been helping connect art collectors with artists by offering a safe and secure platform for both parties. Over the years Art2Arts has built up a trustworthy relationship based on an ethos of customer satisfaction.

While they offer a secure place for customers to purchase art online, they also offer a safe platform for artists to sell their work.