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
Ownart.org.uk 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 abbottandholder.co.uk. And with serious artists, engravings, lithographs and drawings are a fraction of the price of oils and watercolours."
For prints, try elphicks.big cartel.com (nice birds – "Caribbean Cruisers" by Charley Harper); keepcalmgallery.com (top typography); alboart.co.uk (from £25); surfaceview. co.uk (non-naff reproductions).
Gallery shops are great – but particularly rich is saatchistore.com.
In the beginning
The art-school degree shows kick off around now: check out degreeart.com/degree-shows-2011. Near London? Try also free-range.org.uk (starts 31 May) and artistic hub Vyner Street, E2, first Thursdays of the month.
For a bluffers' guide: affordable artfair.com/portal/buying
Find Kate's blog on affordable interiors at yourhomeislovely.com
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