London's Frieze Art Fair opened yesterday and runs until Sunday, filling Regent's Park with 73 international galleries showcasing the work of more than 1,000 artists. The fair, which launched in 2003, has presided over a huge expansion in the market for contemporary art and a corresponding increase in prices. And it's not just oligarchs and bankers; a passion for art has enveloped us all.
According to the latest Rics Arts and Antiques Survey, the price of affordable contemporary art rose at its fastest pace in three years this year. It's a fact that Art.com chief executive Geoffroy Martin confirms: the company's British websites alone sell in excess of £10m worth of prints each year.
Martin credits the internet with helping to fuel our growing passion for art. "In the past people had to find a gallery, choose from a limited selection, find someone to frame it and find a way to transport the picture home."
In contrast, online galleries have no space constraints – Art.com has a choice of more than 1.2 million images. Prices have come down and you can have your image framed and delivered to your door.
There are tools to help you choose too: select a colour you like and see pictures that match; choose an image you like and see a selection of similar options. If you spot a piece of art that you like while you're out and about, take a photo on your mobile phone and then find it, or something similar, using the Art Match iPhone app. Or snap an image of your living room, upload it to the site and play around until you find a picture that works in your space.
And if all this leaves you over- whelmed, take note of what Simon Chaplin, of the London furniture store Chaplins, which offers an art consultancy service, says: "I've always believed that you buy art because you like it, anything else doesn't really matter."
1. Britain for sale£15, www.grahambrown.com
This website allow you to choose how you'd like your print presented. You can choose from paper, canvas, wood and other surfaces. Love Union prints on canvas blocks.
2. Ghetto prints£3,350, www.chaplins.co.uk
Urban street style art is a popular choice and these original (if pricey) pieces by Dom Pattinson at Chaplins, will liven up any wall.
3. To be beside the seaside, £15, unframed at www.allposters.co.uk
Vintage travel posters are a big trend right now and start from just £15 unframed at allposters.
4. Sign of the times, £32.99, www.art.co.uk
Subway signs add a touch of urban rawness to this otherwise genteel bathroom. Central Park and C8 weathered signs on stretched canvas prints.
5. Horses on parade, £325, www.emmamason.co.uk
Try Emma Mason for original woodcuts and linocuts by British artists from the 1930s on, such as this 1966 linocut by Robert Tavener.
6. Art from the catwalks, £79.99, www.art.co.uk
Hang a series of black and white photographs together for a gallery-style display of vintage fashion images.