1. Art museums
Most contemporary art institutes and museums sell various limited-edition prints and print portfolios that have been produced by critical acclaimed artists. Sometimes those prints have been produced for the institutions to sell as a way of fundraising. These prints are available in the gallery shop as well as online to an international audience who can shop from the comfort of their home. They are usually selected by respected curators and are often linked to specific exhibitions, or can be produced alongside seasonal shows. In general, the goal of art museums is to collect, preserve, and display artworks for the education of the public. So, you can obviously trust the museums to produce works by African artists who are worth investing in. It’s a safe way to start building your collection with confidence.
2. Art galleries
Contemporary art galleries are mostly open to the general public without charge although some are private or semi-private. They usually profit by taking a portion of art sales or they can charge the artists a flat periodic rate. In general, art galleries represent several artists by organizing shows for them, promoting their work, and introducing their artworks to collectors. Some galleries work with established artists while others promote emerging artists. They build their reputation by acting as mentor for artists, helping them to develop not only their career but their work too. When you step into a gallery, the echoing space can be intimidating but once you clarify your intent, whether you are in to buy, appreciate or out of curiosity, you’ll feel more confident. Most of the galleries will sell limited-edition prints by the artists they represent, which is an affordable way to invest in work by African artists.
3. Artist’s studio
A studio is a space where the artist work and that can be both his home and the hub of his social life. Several artists can share the same studio if the artist is a member of a collective. So, you can discover new artists who share the same ideas or style. Some artists open their studios to the public in order to explain their creative process, sell a complete selection of their work, tell the story behind their work, and share their personal preoccupations. Buying directly from an artist is a unique, intimate, and personal experience, especially if you go inside their studio and see firsthand how they work. You can also visit an artist’s studio via his website when it is offered, and buy his work online. You can request more information on a work you like, or specially commission a piece if you successfully built a good relationship with the artist. However, some artists may have a delusional idea of the value of their work as they are more emotionally attached to it, a caveat that the price of their artworks may be inflated.
4. Furniture retailers
Furniture retailers provide modern and contemporary home furniture and accessories that will inject creativity into your living spaces. Furniture can be a product of design and is considered a form of decorative art. In cities with major contemporary art cultural hubs, you will find furniture stores in prime locations that are exhibiting and selling artworks. Some retailers such as Ethan Allen and Roche Bobois will sell art pieces from commercial galleries, while others such as Mobilia will promote artworks from individual artists. Independent retailers will often provide their space for themed exhibitions – artists from a particular country or region, for example. The retailers are likely to be less intimidating spaces than galleries as they are more crowded. When the artwork is displayed alongside furniture within a decorative set, people shopping for furniture will often buy the work of art.
5. Art book publishers
Art booksellers and publishers are purveyors of rare, out of print books on art, photography, design, and architecture. Although there is a clear distinction between an art book publisher and an art bookseller, both are intermediaries between the author/artist and the public. Many publishers of art books often release limited-edition prints to celebrate the publication of their book titles. They can also organize an exhibition of a selection of the prints which are featuring in the book being promoted. Individuals wishing to buy art books and prints can usually shop online via major websites such as Amazon and Indigo, or directly on the publisher’s website such as Revue Noire. Prices may vary depending on the print edition, but some amazing pieces can be found. So, it’s worth contacting publishers who print books of artists who appeal to your tastes and interests.