Giving the Gift of Art

Giving the Gift of Art

Arts December 20, 2012 / By Jessica L. Porter
Giving the Gift of Art

Things to think about when giving the original gift of artwork to friends, family and loved ones!

Many people shy away from giving art as a gift because it is personal and subjective but so are a lot of other things people give as gifts. Giving art is just a bit scary, because it is art but it is one of the most original, thoughful and fun things you can gift (other than a puppy). Over the years I’ve helped many friends, couples and families give the gift of art through Porter Contemporary and  and along the way I’ve learned a few tips I’d like to share during this season of giving:

You Know What They Want, Now What
Most often the spark of giving art happens when someone sees something they like in a gallery or online and they share that with someone else. That is the “easy” situation. From that point, it is a matter of working with the gallery director or online company manager to arrange delivery and any special notifications. It is also important to share the information with the gallery or company because on countless occasions I’ve had someone come back to buy the work for themselves and instead of spoiling the surprise, I was able to be a part of the surprise (basically by telling a little white lie and saying the work had been sold)!

You know They Like Art, But What To Buy?
The more difficult scenario is not knowing a specific work of art to buy and this can be handled in several ways:
    1- If there is a gallery that the person frequents you may want to inquire with the director if there is something they remember the person liking. Gallerists tend to keep track of these things for follow up later and if you let them know it is for a gift, they will share this information with you. They will not; however, share with you what that person has bought in the past as this is considered confidential. They will share artists that interest the person if there is not a specific work and that can be helpful for narrowing your focus.
    2- You can use the gallery or art website to gauge interest by sharing it with them and asking if they like such and such. Unless you buy art for the person all the time as a gift the likelihood of them being hip to your plan is low because art is an unexpected gift.

Things to Consider Now That You Know What You Are Buying
No one wants to give someone a high maintenance gift so do consider the type of work you are buying for someone and whether it will need special care. You may want to avoid this unless you know it is the specific work the person wants. Also, if your gift is a photograph, print or other work on paper it is important to allow time to either frame the piece or include a gift certificate for framing as part of your gift so the person can enjoy the piece right away. Some art websites offer framing options and almost all galleries can direct you to a framer they like.

Packaging and Delivery
If you wish to give the work personally, then have the gallery or art company package the work as they normally would for safe transport and then add any decorative elements you wish. DO NOT remove the original packaging. If the work is too large or the distance to great for you to give yourself you should discuss options with the gallery or company ahead of time for any special arrangements. I do recommend giving fair warning to the receiver if you are sending something large...i.e. a card hinting that something significant is in the works. Galleries, especially, will want a guarantee for someone to be able to receive the work when delivered for obvious safety and insurance reasons.

Of course, when all else fails, a gift certificate towards art is the safest bet so someone could use it to have work commissioned or to buy something they want that you didn't know about!

Article Image Caption: "Radiance" by Anne Marchand, Courtesy of

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