The Insider: Buy art without breaking the bank

By Kate Burt
Sunday 23 October 2011 03:00

Buying art can give a person the jitters. Especially when the price tops a few hundred – and the idea of "investment" threatens to hamper things. So how can you avoid throwing cash down the drain – and is that painting really any good?

From the heart

"It is hard to strike gold without attuned antennae," says the architectural designer/art collector Ben Pentreath. "So I buy things I love, and find their value takes care of itself."

Money, money, money provides interest-free loans to buy contemporary art.

Home is where the art is

How to pick the right art for your décor? Look for a hint of a room's dominant colours in a painting. But, contrast works: light-filled images brighten dark rooms, warm hues soften a starker interior and balance modern with old for panache.

Deal or no deal

"Build a relationship with a reputable dealer," says Pentreath. "I use And with serious artists, engravings, lithographs and drawings are a fraction of the price of oils and watercolours."

Print it

For prints, try elphicks.big (nice birds – "Caribbean Cruisers" by Charley Harper); (top typography); (from £25); surfaceview. (non-naff reproductions).

Museum piece

Gallery shops are great – but particularly rich is

In the beginning

The art-school degree shows kick off around now: check out Near London? Try also (starts 31 May) and artistic hub Vyner Street, E2, first Thursdays of the month.

Blag it

For a bluffers' guide: affordable

Find Kate's blog on affordable interiors at

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